Summer – the season we’ve all been waiting for – is here at last! But somehow June-through-August calendars seem to fill up before the season officially begins and it flashes by in a blink of an eye.
With so many commitments, it can feel like a frenzied rush to fit everything in, leaving you worn out and not always able to enjoy each moment to its fullest. That’s why it’s so important to schedule in time for just you this summer.
Yes, we’re talking about self-care. The ubiquitous term that’s been used so much that nobody truly knows what it means anymore. So don’t take it from us, take it from the pros. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Self-care has been defined as providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness.”
Translation for all of you that tend to take on the world and put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own: This means carving out time just for you and making yourself an equal priority to everyone else in your life—and on a regular basis—in order to recharge your body and mind.
So, here are 15 easy ways to give yourself some much-needed self-care this summer so you can show up as the best version of yourself all summer long!
Try These 15 Easy Self-Care Practices
Rest and Relax
R&R may sound like an obvious way to unwind and destress, but if plopping on the couch with a glass of wine and the latest season of your favorite reality TV show is your idea of R&R (we’re not judging, there’s a time and place for it!) we have some other self-care options for you to try that will up the zen factor tenfold.
- Spend some time in nature. You may have heard of “forest bathing,” which is a fancy term for spending time in nature for elevated well-being. Spending time outdoors and even exercising al fresco has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, restore mental fatigue, and boost mood and self esteem.
- Snuggle a furry friend. Research has shown that petting a dog not only reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, but it also boosts oxytocin, one of our four feel-good hormones.
- Take a nap. It may feel lazy or shameful to take a midday snooze but there is plenty of science around the benefits of a cat nap. Naps have been shown to be even more powerful than a cup of coffee when it comes to learning, memory, performance, and thinking.
- Take a few days or a week off for a summer staycation or travel. Book a weekend trip, road trip, camping trip, or a hotel in your own city for a luxurious staycation where you don’t have to cook or clean.
- Try something new! Take up stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, charter a boat with friends, family, or for a romantic date—anything summer-centric you haven’t done before for a fun adventure. Studies show that participants who embarked on adventures in nature reported a heightened life satisfaction, happiness, mindfulness, and less stress.
- Unplug. Whether it’s for a few hours, a full day, or even a week, taking time away from screens and devices can improve various aspects of health. The practice of digital detoxing has been shown to make individuals more present, sleep better, have deeper connections with those around them, and improve productivity in the long run.
Work On Self-Development
- Take up some mindfulness practices. Mindfulness, through meditation, higher-self journaling, gratitude, and other spiritual practices have decades of science supporting their effect on instilling calm and peace of mind, reducing stress and anxiety, and enhancing joy. In one study that focused on advanced cancer patients, gratitude journaling positively affected the state of suffering, psychological distress, and quality of life, which speaks volumes for the potential benefits of the practice and its efficacy in such challenging mental states.
- Practice breathwork. What if we told you a simple breathwork routine could alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion? Scientists have proven it to be true. Look for in-person breathwork workshops near you or try an app in the comfort of your home to reap the many benefits.
- Start a morning routine. Waking up at a set time and following a series of wellness practices such as lemon water, yoga, prayer, meditation, and more has been shown to elevate the quality of life for many. There is a body of research around a consistent morning routine for improved productivity, health, and happiness.
- Craft a vision board. Take a break to reframe where you’re headed in the future by creating an inspirational vision board. Your board can include everything from your love life, career success, travel, financial stability, and mantras that make you feel powerful, capable, creative, and more. Here’s an article on how to do it, as well as some interesting facts about this manifestation tactic.
Take Thoughtful Care Of Your Health And Nutrition
- Prioritize nutrient-dense, whole foods. Did you know that a few too many cheat meals and not enough deeply nutritious foods could be making you anxious and moody? That’s right. According to the Mayo Clinic, prioritizing protein at breakfast, choosing complex carbs over refined carbs, getting plenty of fruits, veggies, and water and limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink will go a long way towards improved mental well-being. One easy way to effortlessly take in a wider variety of produce is to schedule regular visits to your local farmers’ market and load up on a wide and colorful variety of seasonal goodies.
- Move your body: Whether you take a yoga class, hit the gym, or join a running or cycling group, there’s no denying the power of movement for mental health, well-being, and lowering stress. The Mayo Clinic calls exercise “meditation in motion” and says it improves mood naturally by pumping up the body’s production of endorphins, our feel-good neurotransmitters.
Socialize And Pamper Yourself
- Get a massage, facial, pedicure, or go all out and book a spa day. You deserve it! Whether you opt for a deep-tissue massage, relax in the sauna, or get a treatment with essential oils, there are proven benefits from mental relaxation to reduced risk of some diseases that are associated with various spa treatments and spa amenities.
- Make time to catch up with friends. As social creatures, the need to relate, bond, and form relationships is innate. If you look at American Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, intimate relationships are valued so high they are positioned above our most basic needs for food and shelter. Translation: Not only do we like to be social, we actually need companionship to thrive. According to the Mayo Clinic, socialization fosters feelings of happiness and well-being and is also attributed with living longer.
- Laugh more. A good belly laugh goes a long way for self-care and is an excellent way to relieve stress, but it also has some pretty cool proven health benefits. While you’re trying to catch your breath from laughing hard, your body is actually taking in more oxygen-rich air than usual, which benefits your muscles, heart, and lungs. And as far as your mood goes, your brain is releasing more feel-good endorphins—the same ones you get from a good workout—which last long after your last giggle. Laughing can also counter the effects of depression and anxiety, all while improving mood and self-esteem. So, call up your funniest friend and make a date to cross off the last two points at once for a double whammy of self-care.
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