Summertime and the livin’ is easy…right? School is out, the weather is warm, and the sun is bright. Flowers are blooming and everywhere you look there appears to be an abundance of growth and change. As the summer season swings into full gear—June 20th marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year—energy levels soar with excitement. The days grow longer and the tempo of life speeds up.
While the summer season is naturally energizing, it can be equally draining. If you’re like me, having more hours in the day means more time to load the schedule with even more outdoor activities—more BBQ’s, more festivals, celebrations, weekend trips, work-related events…more, more, more! Even though the days are longer, it can feel as if there just isn’t enough time. If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Yup, that’s me! You’re preaching to the choir!” know that you’re not alone, and you’re in luck—there are some excellent (and simple!) ways to rehydrate your sun-drained soul.
Taking on new practices or activities can be exhilarating, and summertime is a great time to reshape your day-to-day. But even if the newfound activity is a ‘healthy’ one, it’s good to pump the breaks and slow down a bit before “more”-syndrome leads to burnout. There’s no rule that states that self-care has to be a huge undertaking, a serious time commitment, or an entire lifestyle change. Maybe the thought of doing 108 Sun Salutations to welcome the season isn’t an appealing ritual for you. But maybe you have been dying to try out a new outdoor yoga practice, or learn how to meditate. So, go for it! Self-care may not always be easy, but it can be simple. Here are some suggestions:
- Schedule 20 minutes of “just me” time for yourself.
Light some candles, soak in a bath with soothing Epsom salts and lavender or eucalyptus essential oils…listen to Enya, sing Kumbaya. Okay, I’ll admit that might be taking it a bit too far. But maybe doing something over-the-top relaxing for yourself isn’t all that ridiculous.
- Take 10 minutes a day to meditate.
For a long time, I believed that in order to meditate I had to sit down in lotus position with my thumb touching my pointer finger, while remaining 100% silent and still for long periods of time—void of any conscious thought or emotion; stone-cold, frozen stiff, but Zen AF. I could not have been more wrong! Seriously though, I was epically mistaken. After years of practice, I’ve discovered there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to meditate. So, let’s let go of those constricting labels. Invite yourself to just “be” with yourself for 10 minutes—tune inward, away from distractions. Simplify it: Try to focus on listening only to your breath. Don’t judge, don’t attach to or follow any wandering thoughts, just give yourself a moment of patience and grace.
- Repeat after me: “No” is a complete sentence.
Let go of the idea that you must do everything, all of the time. Easy does it. Once I learned (and continue to learn…I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do this one well) that it is completely acceptable to say no to things, I felt much more free. Maybe you will, too.
- Practice being Mindful; Savor the precious moments.
Take a moment to appreciate the little things in life that fill you up with inspiration or awe. Use and be grateful for all of your senses. If you’re a morning person, go outside extra-early and watch the sunrise as you drink your morning java. If you’re more of a late-night spirit, watch the sunset from a nearby park and breathe in all of the colors. Give thanks for the ability to witness beauty with your own eyes. Honor your ability to taste, to touch…to walk…to love. Gratitude and mindfulness are unbelievably powerful tools for self-care. What do you have to lose?
Photo by Kim Marquez