Summer is notoriously a season for relaxing. Not everyone gets a summer break, but the season is the time when people make time for vacations and fun. No matter what plans you have for the summer, there is one thing in common with all of our plans: relaxation.
Our wellness tip this month is to give you five ways to relax this summer. I’ll admit, most of these are pro-active, but isn’t that what wellness and self-care is about? Ultimately these tips will bring you peace of mind, body or both!
- Chill in a hammock
Yep. Do it! I’m talking about the kind of hammock that you can carry with you on a hike, or always have in your car for your lunchtime break at the park. There are a few brands out there (The classic: Eno, the budget: Grand Trunk, and the pro-hiker: Sea to Summit), but they all allow you to do the same thing: relax anywhere you are outside—as long as there are trees!
Time outside has been proven to improve your health and happiness. Studies even show that as few as 20 minutes outside can benefit you. A hammock gives you a no-excuse way to relax outside. With a portable hammock you can lounge without worrying about sitting on the ground (if that’s not your thing) or trying to chill on a park bench (not that comfortable).
Exercise is relaxing! Like I said, these tips are centered around wellness practices. Moving your body reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline according to a Harvard Health article. It also boosts endorphins which improve your mood. Overall, exercise does good things for your body, mind and heart (both the spiritual heart and physical one!).
So, back to hiking! Pairing exercise with a relaxing activity like swimming seems like the perfect combination for a way to practice self-care this summer. Find a place to swim: a lake, creek, or the ocean. Then, make sure the hike (or walk) is suitable for your abilities—short, long, strenuous, flat & easy—then grab your suit, sunscreen, shoes and a book! Get some exercise and then relax.
How much time did we all spend on our phones during 2020? The amount of screen time for the average American increased quite a bit during the pandemic. Everyone was locked down, at home, working from home, bored and connecting with friends through screens rather than in-person.
Wellness tips related to reducing screen time have been around for years. So, this tip is nothing new, but it feels more important than ever. Personally, I spent at least six hours per week for the past year on Zoom for online classes; that doesn’t include time spent on my phone, and more time at my computer completing classwork. Time on screen is probably getting close to part-time job hours for me.
Take a day, or a block of time, and turn off your phone (and maybe hide it—I know if I see it, I’ll pick it up). Give your eyes a break, your mind a break, and your emotions a break. I feel the most holistically unwell when I spend large chunks of time scrolling through instagram reels. Unplugging allows you to focus on what is in front of you. Perhaps this unplugged time is a chance for you to finally declutter your closet, or read a book, or take a walk. Unplug and relax.
4. Create a new routine
Yet again, wellness tips to relax don’t always seem the most chill, but they are I promise. I have chosen this tip as one of my summer goals. Every morning I make time for yoga and journaling or reading. I really try to do this before looking at my phone; I find that my mind is most calm in the morning before I connect with the rest of the world through email and social media.
Routines center us. Like exercise, they help manage and reduce stress. A routine can be anything. One routine I have already established is an early bedtime. I have found that if I go to bed late multiple nights in a row my anxiety skyrockets, and my emotions take control.
Perhaps you are an extrovert and want a routine that includes other people. This can be a great source of accountability. Pick a friend and schedule a weekly or monthly phone call, dinner date, drinks, or a walk. Maybe there is a family member that you didn’t get to see much during the past year. Book club? Running club? (combining exercise and routine!).
5. Make a change in your diet
At the root of self-care and any wellness tip is the idea that the heart, mind and body are all connected. We are interconnected beings. A healthy body is a happy body, is a happy mind and heart. We find it easier to relax when we are happy.
Changing your diet does not mean dieting. Diet, for the purpose of this wellness tip is what you eat. I’m not only talking about losing weight and cutting out foods; I’m also talking about incorporating new things into your diet, eating regularly and liking what you eat.
Are you ‘bad’ at eating regular meals (I am), then create an eating routine (combining this with tip #4!). I get so excited for the day that I often skip out on breakfast, but then I’m hangry by 10am and that is not relaxing. So eat more! Perhaps you want to incorporate more vegetables, or try to add a new food to the mix (hello to parsnips). I’ve been trying to eat less sugar, and drink less alcohol.
Eating healthy allows your body to relax, because relaxing is a physical sensation as well as mental.
This is an unprecedented summer—the world is stirring alive after over a year being cooped up. We’re all excited, but make sure that you are also relaxed, and well.