How to Enjoy Your Summer
Remember when you were a kid and summer vacation was right around the corner? You probably had a countdown going on the back of your hand, reflecting how many days were left in the school year as “School’s Out for the Summer” was on replay in your head. You anxiously awaited summer’s arrival and imagined days filled with swimming pools, later curfews, camping, vacation, baseball games, friends, and fun. Back then, summer meant freedom. You were officially free for a few months, until school began again.
Fast forward to your adult life and the mere mention of summer causes your blood pressure to rise. Whoever said adulting isn’t easy was probably working a full-time job and raising kids and seriously grieving the loss of their childhood summers. It’s true, if you have any sort of responsibility, like a job, or kids, you don’t necessarily experience that same elated feeling. Am I right?
As an adult, we can quickly become overwhelmed with family vacations, later bedtimes, more socializing (aka backyard bbq’s), and if you have children; summer vacation. Read that last sentence again and what do you feel? If you said stress or pressure, you’re not alone. Summer can often mean a lack of structure, but that doesn’t mean we have to forfeit the joy this season once allowed us. I’m gonna share some simple tips that will help you to live in that summer lovin’ season, dancing barefoot in the grass, and enjoying an ice cream cone.
So, April has come and gone, taking her rain (and snow) showers with her — thank goodness and spring slowly blossoms into summer during the month of May. The days become longer, the sunsets a little sweeter, and the air a tad bit softer. Before you find yourself knee-deep in the humidity of July, start to think about doing a little spring cleaning.
During the summer months we may be torn between the desire to celebrate the season; be outside more often, the ability to swing by a friend’s bbq last minute, etc., and the duty to take care of projects and cleaning around the house. If we set aside some time in the later spring to do that deep cleaning, purge the closet, organize the cupboards and finish up that patio project that has been nagging at us since last summer, we will open up windows of opportunity. These windows include: time freedom, less guilt, and of course, less stress. So, when you’re at the park or beach enjoying sunset you can bask in the moment, instead of listening to your to-do list on repeat in your head.
How often do you find yourself sitting at your desk at work daydreaming about a fun event you have planned for your days off? Or maybe you’re getting your kids ready for bed and all you can think about is pouring yourself a glass of wine when they are finally asleep. Look, I know we are all guilty of daydreaming, but there is a difference between this and feeling anxious because you can’t stand where you are currently. When it comes to having a carefree, stress-free summer there is some work that needs to be done in regard to living in the moment.
Sure, it’s super easy to live in the moment when you’re at a fun party, dancing the night away with your best friends, or sitting in silence on a comfy chair reading a great book, but we will be able to flow through life much more easily if we can find gratitude in every moment.
Next time you find yourself stressing because you are here and not there, take a breath and come up with a few things you are thankful for in that specific moment. If you’re at work, express gratitude for the financial support your job provides, or the friends you’ve met at work. If you are at home, take a moment to give thanks for shelter, for your fully stocked fridge, or a place you feel safe. By practicing gratitude for every situation in life, we eventually become happier because we are less focused on the negative. I know, so simple! This practice will also help to shift your mindset when you get a last-minute invite to a bbq and you need to bring a dish to share.
Rather than allowing stress to take over, think about the positives. You are able to have a break from your normal routine, you don’t have to cook an entire meal or clean up the kitchen afterward, and someone cares enough about you to invite you to their home. Shifting our perspective and practicing gratitude can have life-altering effects, help us to be more present in the moment, and allow us to experience more joy as we move through the summer and our lives!
Finally, when it comes to summer and really allowing yourself to feel light, have fun, and minimize stress remember to find your balance! I don’t mean to start practicing pistol squats, although those are an amazing exercise, rather keeping all parts of your life in check.
Maybe you are someone who has a full plate; a job, a side hustle, kids, friends (that you never see), and you barely have time to shower let alone enjoy the highlights of the summer season. Maybe you are single, without kids, you have a job, but just don’t seem to find the time to have fun. The point is, if you are eagerly anticipating summer’s arrival for whatever reasons, you’re going to have to make time to enjoy the season, regardless of your schedule.
A great way to ensure you find time for fun is to block it out. Have you heard of time blocking? This simple practice makes such a difference for so many people (busy or not). By blocking out our time, as in adhering to a schedule, we often find we have much more time in the day than we thought because we are more organized. For instance, block out a half-hour in the morning to get organized, a half-hour for breakfast, etc. If you work a full-time job, block that time out, but if you get a lunch break, block out that time to do something productive or to get outside for a bit. Block out hour chunks in your evening and stick to them! Set timers, or reminders on your phone to keep you in check. Give it a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose (only more time to gain)!
Summer is such a great time of the year to be able to flow with ease and enjoy the season! Start with these simple tips to maximize pleasure and minimize stress this summer, and don’t be surprised if these habits stick with you and give that stress a nice, long vacation!
Monica Mikolajczyk is a NASM certified personal trainer, specializing in corrective exercise and pelvic floor and core training. She designs programs for postpartum women (no matter how many years postpartum) to help them regain strength and function in their bodies. Monica is also a nutritionist, and has her Master of Science in Nutrition. She blends nutritional consulting with motivational interviewing and health coaching in order to help clients set and achieve their short and long-term health goals.
She is passionate about empowering people, and helping them to attain optimum health and wellbeing. Monica is the owner of Integral Health NC, LLC an online and in-person, personal training and nutritional consulting/coaching business (visit www.integralhealthnc.com for more information).