Now that summer is here, some of us may head off to the beach or a cottage, some may be working in the heat of summer, while still others may be getting comfortable near a fan. As noted in the acrostic above, summer is an opportunity for us to do a few things to keep ourselves calm and relaxed as we unwind this summer. And let’s face it, we deserve it after the year we’ve had!
Slowing the pace
By taking the time to stop what we’re doing, or interrupt the daily cycle to listen, take a breath and live in the moment, even for just a minute, we can gain tremendous benefits such as lowering stress levels, lowering our heart rate and improving our mood and psychological engagement. Lifehack.com has a list of ways to slow down in a fast-paced world.
Unwinding and unplugging
Try going a day (or longer) with no technology, explore the magic of un-plugging. That means no phone, no television, no media of any kind. Instead, why not try taking a relaxing bath, read a good book (preferably made of an ancient fiber called ‘paper’), playing music or painting, or any other activity one would consider “old school”. By taking note of how you feel at the end of the day or more with no technology and note if you had an unwound day without it. Getting in touch with some of the old ways of doing things can make a difference in one’s day and it can actually help you feel mentally refreshed. A colleague mentioned when she needs to unwind, she bakes some bread but doesn’t use machines to make it. Just a bowl, spoon and her two hands. She swears by it as a stress reliever. Personally, I knit dog sweaters throughout the year – it’s very meditative and I find I process information and solve problems while the needles are clicking away…
Meaningful time for us
Don’t feel guilty about taking some much-needed quality or meaningful time out just for you. How we define that time may be different for everyone. Perhaps it means to be alone to collect your thoughts without interruption, or it may mean making time for family and friends. Just remember to not feel guilty about taking that time back but if you need some convincing on why it is important to take the time for yourself, Psychology Today runs through a few reasons to not feel guilty about solitary time for you and Time.com talks about the importance of meaningful time with those around us (socially distanced, of course).
Motivation to move
So far, we have talked about slowing down, unplugging, unwinding and taking time for ourselves. This all sounds pretty relaxing, but what about the importance of getting up and moving? While this almost feels counter-intuitive to the strategy of relaxing, exercise can make that relaxation all the more impactful by adjusting our body chemistry to reduce stress and boost mood, allowing us to better make use of our previously discussed methods for relaxation, as mentioned in Harvard Health. Alternatively, if the heat has got you down, taking a dip in the nearest pool or lake is another great way to stay in shape.
Explore our environment
While you’re getting up to exercise, why not take it outside. It’s summer after all! This gives you a wonderful opportunity to mindfully take in nature within your neighbourhood, or local trails. In our busy days, we don’t always get to take in the beauty of our environment.
Finally, some days just feel like chaos rests at the top of our minds. This is the perfect chance to try some meditation exercises (check out the ‘Calm’ app) to quiet the chaos, reduce stress and bring us back to that place where we can once again enjoy a slower pace by unwinding and making our summer a meaningful one.
Have a wonderful summer everyone!