Did you know? A full 57% of people claim that they feel paralyzed by stress. In other words, more than half of the people around you experience so much stress, anxiety, or tension that they’re held back from doing things they’d be doing otherwise.
With the seasons changing and a long, hard spring behind us, it’s a good time to start thinking about summer self care. Too many people neglect their emotional and spiritual health for too long, and their lives become mundane and stress-ridden, like the people we mentioned above. This especially applies to perfectionists and people pleasers. You might even be one of those who feel “paralyzed by stress.”
Summer self care might include visiting a health and wellness center. But there’s a lot more to self care and self healing than doctors appointments. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the best ways you can beat stress and enjoy a healthy, happy summer.
Have Some Summer Fun
Get in touch with your inner child and have some playful fun this summer. Think back to your best summer memories and make a list of some fun activities you’d like to experience this year. Maybe there are things you’ve always dreamed of doing, but you always seem to be too busy to do them. Well, now is your chance.
Think outside the box when you make your list. The goal is simply to come up with a few things you would genuinely find fun, no matter what anyone else might think. Some of these activities to try could include:
- Playing mini golf
- Making homemade ice cream
- Going to a local fair
- Visiting an amusement park or water park
- Visiting a nearby beach
- Having a picnic at the park, or have a picnic in your backyard and get food delivered
- Watching a sunset
- Going camping
- Feeding ducks or visiting a petting zoo
- Having a water balloon fight
If these ideas seem childish to you, think again. They can be fun for all ages, and the more simple they are, the more they can help relieve stress. Don’t hold yourself back when you make your list, and then plan how you can work some of these activities into your summer activities. Incorporating fun activities into your life is a critical part of summer self care.
Get Some Sun (But Not Too Much)
Sunlight is known to have a positive impact on mental health. For one thing, it boosts your mood and helps you feel more energized. Getting plenty of sunlight is also good for nourishing your body, and there’s nothing wrong with having a nice tan. Just be careful not to spend too much time in the sun. During the summer, it’s not hard to get too much of a good thing, and that definitely applies to sunlight. Don’t push yourself to spend time outside just because you “should” be outside; actually do it because you want to, and know when to come inside to avoid getting sunburnt or too hot. Listen to your body to know when it’s time to get back in with the air conditioning. While you’re at it, learn the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion so you recognize it when you or someone else has had too much sun.
Rethink Your Yard Furniture
As the days get warmer, it’s great to ditch the living room couch and relax out-of-doors. In preparation, you could take a look at your porch or yard furniture and think about ways to make your outdoor space more relaxing. If your yard furniture isn’t comfortable or well-designed, you might want to invest in some ergonomic chairs to replace them with. You could also work on other ways to make your outdoor area more enjoyable, such as by building a fire pit or planting a flower garden.
Don’t Do it All Yourself or Go it Alone
If you happen to exhibit perfectionist or people-pleasing tendencies, you could end up spending your summer making sure everyone else is having fun, while you deal with feeling burdened and resentful. It’s great to host BBQs, find summer camps for your children, and plan vacations for the family, but it’s also an awful lot of work. So part of your summer self care should involve asking for help when you need it.
Remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you’re married, ask your spouse to pitch in when you’re entertaining. Consider hosting potlucks instead of traditional parties so that all the guests chip something in. You know you want everyone else to relax and have a good time this summer, but you should remember that you deserve this, too.
If you’re the independent type, and especially if you live alone, try not to be too alone this summer. Not only is it important to ask for help when you need it, but you also need to surround yourself with your own support group. This doesn’t just apply to people suffering from anxiety or recovering from illnesses. It applies just as much to normal, healthy people. We all need friends we can count on, so if you’ve kept to yourself most of your life, this summer is the time to get out and meet new people. You could try online dating, begin attending church services or yoga classes, or just ask a coworker out to coffee and see where it goes. Once you find a handful of friends you can really trust, you’ll be glad you made the sacrifice of putting yourself out there.
Take Steps to Work on Your Mental Health
If you spend too much of your time feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious, you might want to seek out a mental health service this summer. More and more people beginning to take their mental health seriously, especially after the quarantine this spring. If you’ve ever suspected you may have a mental condition, even if it’s something as simple as mild anxiety, you should at least consider scheduling a counseling session. Recent medical advancements, such as CBD wellness products, can help people cope with stress and anxiety, often without resorting to drugs with unpleasant side effects.
Just because you don’t have any trouble with your mental health doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it a part of your summer self care. Counselors and life coaches can help anyone keep their feet on the ground, stand up for themselves, and pursue their goals without wearing themselves out. You should also consider pampering yourself, such as by visiting a chiropractor clinic or medi spa.
Take a Break from Technology
From eye strain to emotional overwhelm, devices and social media can sometimes seem to do more harm than good. While we need our computers and smartphones to do our work and stay connected, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being too connected, for too long. This summer, plan on taking a fast from technology at least once. You don’t need to go a whole week without watching TV or looking at your phone: just spend one weekend, or even one day, without using any form of technology. Doing this a few times over the summer is better than trying to go a whole week without technology just once.
Even if you don’t go on any “technology fasts,” you should at least set healthy limits for your tech use. Maybe your attention is spread across too many social networks and news sites, and you need to cut back to using just one or two. You could limit your time on Facebook to one hour in the morning on your computer, and delete the app on your phone to avoid getting sucked into the ever-tempting newsfeed. You should also stop using all screens at least half an hour before you plan to go to bed so you don’t have trouble sleeping.
Plan a Vacation (or Staycation)
It’s basically a tradition for people to plan vacations for the summer, but if you live a busy life or mostly keep to yourself, you may not have been on a vacation in a couple of years. Vacations don’t have to be expensive trips to exotic locations — you could take a road trip to a place that’s especially beautiful in the summer, such as Chicago or Minneapolis.
If you’re simply unable to travel, consider the activities your own town is offering. Many cities have summer festivals and other events happening during the warmest months of the year, and you don’t have to travel far to get to them.
If you simply don’t like getting out and want a break from the world, consider a “staycation” where you spend a few days at home, simply doing things you enjoy. Skip the meal prep and chow down on deliveries and healthy frozen foods for a week. Catch up on the books, movies, or TV shows you’ve been wanting to check out all year. A quiet week spent at home can be even more rejuvenating and enjoyable than an elaborate vacation.
Don’t Stress About Your Size or Appearance
If you’re honest, you’ll have to acknowledge that most people don’t have “beach bodies” or look anything like supermodels. So why have those kinds of expectations of yourself?
However you think you look, don’t let it stop you from putting on a swimsuit, shorts, tank top, or whatever outfit feels like summer to you. Most people are too self-critical, which means two things: first, you’re not alone if you feel self-conscious; and second, most people are too busy thinking about how they look to judge your appearance. This kind of knowledge is power — use it to let loose and enjoy summer. Self-acceptance can be the best form of summer self care.
Summer is a big time for charity activism, church events, and every kind of party and festival imaginable. It’s not hard to get sucked into these events and the preparations leading up to them, with people inviting you to get involved and asking for a helping hand.
This being the case, setting reasonable boundaries may be the most important form of summer self care this year. It may seem selfish to turn down requests for help, but it really isn’t: boundaries allow us to prioritize our health and wellbeing, and to focus on what we think is important. If you’re a people-pleaser, you’re probably used to signing up for things just because others want you to. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for becoming burnt out, stressed, and resentful towards the people you’re supposed to be there helping. This in turn can lead to guilt and even more burnout.
This summer, choose to focus on your needs first, and help others with the extra time, energy, and money you actually have — not the time or money they want you to have. In other words, fill your cup first, and give to others out of your overflow, not from your cup. This won’t just keep you healthy and happy. It will also empower you to do more for the people and causes you care about most.
Don’t Forget Your Physical Health
While we’re on the subject of summer self care and mental health, let’s not forget that it’s as important to care for our bodies as our minds. Many people get overwhelmed with life, and before they know it, it’s been months since their last family medicine checkup.
Make sure you schedule and attend any doctor’s appointments or checkups that are due over the summer. If you have a nagging condition or sickness that you’ve been ignoring, such as a toothache or sore back, it’s a good idea to take note of it and get checked out.
You may not need to see any physical therapists, but you still need to take care of your health.
While you’re at it, make sure you remember to eat healthy during the summer. It’s okay to splurge on summer snacks and frozen treats, but don’t let this be an excuse to overlook your diet. Place special emphasis on your daily breakfast: if you get all the nutrients you need in your first meal of the day, not only will you enjoy better health in general, but you’ll also be covered if lunch and dinner get out of hand. You’re not always able to eat three healthy meals per day.
Having good health has a lot less to do with health care services, and a lot more to do with healthy daily decisions and good habits. Make building these habits a part of your summer self care plan.
Be Okay With Things Being Imperfect
Finally, our last tip for summer self care is to accept imperfections now and then. Some people want their summer to be “just perfect,” not unlike weddings. It’s a romanticized time when everyone is expecting to have fun and hoping to be attractive. But don’t let that detract from your summer experiences: your emphasis should be on fun, starting by living in the moment, not on trying to make things perfect.
That applies to yourself, too. You probably show compassion to other people when they show shortcomings or weaknesses, and you should extend the same compassion to yourself. Don’t ever demand perfection of yourself.
Hopefully, this article has given you some inspiration for how you can prioritize your summer self care this year.