Life can be hectic at times, and if we don’t take the time to prioritize our physical and mental health and well-being, we face many health risks.
Too much action without time to rest and recharge increases our risk of stress-related conditions like depression and anxiety, sleep problems, heart issues, and burnout.
No matter what time of year it is, it’s always important to prioritize your wants and needs with an effective self-care routine.
Still, summertime calls for a little switch up to your self care routine. The sunshine, the long evenings, the warmer weather, and the upcoming holidays offer a chance to practice self care routine that will keep you glowing even when the sun isn’t shining and will help you have an unforgettably amazing summer.
In this article, we’ll suggest some summer self-care practices to help you take advantage of the longer days and the warmer months.
Each of these tips is sure to drastically improve your overall well-being, so make sure to add them to your daily routine to nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
1. The sun is medicine
Sunshine really is medicine. While it’s true that too much sunshine on the skin can be dangerous, that doesn’t mean you need to hide away from it completely.
Getting out in the sun for even 30 minutes a day can offer a range of health benefits that will help you flourish in mind and body over the summer season.
Research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives highlights the powerful health benefits of soaking up the sun. According to the researchers, sunlight has the “ability to boost the body’s vitamin D supply; most cases of vitamin D deficiency are due to lack of outdoor sun exposure.”
They go on to explain the importance of vitamin D’s role in regulating the body’s systems. “At least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body are now thought to be regulated by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]D), the active form of the vitamin, including several involved in calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning.”
Not only is it good for your body, including your immune system and your neuromuscular functioning, but it also helps your body produce more serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in our lives – it governs our mood and emotions and promotes feelings of happiness and well-being.
Remember to wear sunscreen!
If you’re heading out to soak up some sunshine, don’t forget to bring your sunscreen. You may want a nice tan and be glowing for the summer and all the parties you have coming up, but part of any good self care routine is taking responsibility for your health.
Too much exposure to the sun’s damaging UV rays can lead to problems such as actinic keratosis (rough, scaly patches on the skin) and melanoma. So, make sure you load up on sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wear it anytime you’re in the sun for longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Sleep is your best friend
Summer months bring along a change in how many hours of daylight we experience each day.
The days are longer in summer, which means that it takes longer for our bodies to release that melatonin necessary for sleep, which would have been released earlier in the evening during the darker months.
Melatonin is often referred to as the body’s sleep hormone. When released, it signals to the body to get ready to wind down, rest, and get some much-needed shut-eye for the night.
The body observes the change from day to night by the amount of natural light available, so when it gets dark, melatonin is released.
Since summer days are longer and brighter, the body releases its melatonin later than it’s used to. This delayed-release can affect your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep-wake cycle. As such, it’s important to make sure you get enough sleep.
Make any necessary changes or adaptations to your sleep schedule to ensure you’re still getting the CDC-recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
3. Nourish your body
Summer self care won’t be complete without healthy but delicious food.
“Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.“ – William Shakespeare.
The food we eat has a direct influence on how we feel.
This summer, practice self care by focusing on eating high-quality foods containing all the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your mind and body functioning at an optimal level.
Healthy habits like eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods every day, and drinking plenty of water is highly beneficial and your summer self will thank you.
Depending on where you live, the heat of the summer may mean you’re going to sweat a lot. To avoid dehydration, try to drink two to three liters of water every day, depending on your body weight and size.
Above, we mentioned the importance of serotonin and how its stores in the body are replenished through sunlight. The same applies to healthy, gut-friendly bacteria found in food.
Up to 95 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut microbiome. If the quality of food we eat is low, then our serotonin stores won’t be as healthy and functional as they could.
If, on the other hand, we nourish our body with healthy foods, our gut-microbiome reaps the benefits and produces more serotonin. The serotonin in the gut then travels to the brain and helps us regulate our mood to feel content and happy.
4. Make a delicious summer salad
When the days are hot, you may not feel like cooking a roast dinner, spending hours in the kitchen with steam and hot food with gallons of sweat seeping from your forehead. Lighter foods that are easy to prepare is the way to go in the summer months.
Instead of spending all that time over the stove or even turning on the oven, visit a farmers market and buy yourself some of those fresh produce. Make yourself a summer salad and your blood pressure will thank you.
Salads are a great option for summer dinner because they don’t usually take long to prepare and are extremely versatile. Add some chicken if you’re a meat-eater or tofu if you’re vegan.
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber chickpeas, quinoa, dressing – there are so many potential ingredients to put in your salad that; it’s possible to have a different combination for every single day of the summer!
5. Plan a holiday
If you’ve got a summer break from work, or you’ve handed in an advance request for a holiday, use your time wisely. You may be tempted to do something crazy and adventurous on your days off, but remember that it’s important to rest and recharge, too.
Plan a holiday, at home or abroad, but make sure you fit in some time to relax.
For example, if you’re off to the Caribbean, you may want to party a lot and do lots of water sports. Don’t exhaust yourself either; between the parties and the adventures, take some time to sit back and simply enjoy your free time.
“It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.“ – Diane Von Furstenberg.
6. Meditate outdoors
Mediation is a great addition to your toolkit when it comes to practicing self care.
If you already practice self care with mediation, then spend time over the summer with mediation outdoors. You may have been meditating indoors throughout the winter, and that’s great, but when we’re indoors, and the doors and windows are closed, we usually breathe in recycled air.
Taking your meditation practice outside and replenishing your lungs with fresh air, as well as letting the sunshine kiss your skin, is a great way to increase your oxygen levels, reduce stress, and make the best of the summer while it’s here!
7. Reorganize your space
If you can find the time, use the summer to give yourself a brand new home, in your existing one. This can be achieved by the simple act of shifting some furniture around and adding some fresh flowers, rugs, lights, candles, or other simple but beautiful decorations.
The ancient Chinese practice of feng shui is still used today to help people organize space so that they can live in harmony within themselves and their environment when they rest in their space.
Have a look around your house and see if there’s any clutter you can throw out, clothes you can give away to charity, and other items clogging up your internal and environmental energy.
Try moving couches and beds to different angles or different parts of the room and see how much it opens up your space. It sounds simple, but just a few small changes can completely transform a space.
8. Make a summer bucket list
This summer, don’t wait any longer to do things you’ve always wanted to do. Always wanted to start writing that book? Climb that mountain? Run that marathon?
You can even get your friends to join in. Show them your bucket list and ask if they have one. Compare to see if you have any mutual list items you could do together.
Summer bucket-list ideas
- Go for a picnic with a friend or partner (or both!)
- Head to the beach and swim in the sea
- Get a suntan
- Visit somewhere you’ve never been
- Grow vegetables and herbs in your garden
- Disconnect from technology for a whole day and night
- Go fishing (learn to fish)
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
9. Try some new hobbies
With warmer days and brighter evenings, summer is a great time to get started on a new hobby.
Whether it’s playing an instrument, taking up a sport, painting, writing, or any other creative outlet, let this summer be filled with new hobbies. You don’t have to follow through with everything you try – unless you’re a superhuman who can commit to that many things!
It may even turn out that you don’t want to keep any hobby you picked up over the summer, and that’s fine. However, it’s much more likely that you’ll find at least one that you love, something that you may even be able to take with you into the colder months and keep upskilling.
Self care isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.
You don’t have to spend lots of money on the latest products, clothes, or expensive holidays to make the best of your summer and reap the benefits of an effective self care routine.
The main goal is to prioritize your needs so that you get enough time to rest, eat well, look after your mind, and do things you love.
If you can allow yourself to do all these things, then everything else you have to – responsibilities, duties, caring for others – will all fall into place and become a whole lot easier.