As I sit on my deck enjoying my breakfast and coffee, I think, “Ah, summer is really here at last.” Breakfast on the deck is one of the luxuries I savor in the summertime.
One of the challenges of being a career at home professional is that if I don’t have a networking meeting or lunch date setup, it is easy to go an entire day without stepping outside. So I make it a point to spend some part of each day in the fresh air. Since it’s entirely possible that by lunch it will be too hot to sit out, summer means breakfast on the deck.
This is only one of the rituals I employ to make sure that the summer truly is a unique part of the year. We wait for it all winter, and then it flies by so quickly. I want to make sure in September when asked, “How was your summer?” my answer will be “Great!”
So often I hear others respond, “It was fine. You know, working away just like any other time of the year.” That is an unfortunate response, because summer is different. There are opportunities that come around in the summer that won’t again, unless of course you are lucky enough to live in a climate with balmy temperatures all year long. But even then, with a little effort, it is possible to create summers that truly stand out from the rest of the year, and are filled with fun and healthy endeavors.
Here are some tips to help you create a healthy fun summer.
- Visualize your ultimate summer. What would you love to do this summer that you couldn’t do during the rest of the year? Jot down your ideas both big and small. Go to the beach, host a barbecue, go on a picnic, or learn to surf! Think about the things you did as a kid that made summer special. Bike riding, treats from the ice cream truck, reading in a hammock! Keep the list visible and begin scheduling some of these things into your calendar. If they are only thought about, there’s a good chance the summer will fly by without them happening.
- Spend as much time outside as possible. Research has shown that sunshine can lift your mood by triggering secretions of mood improving chemicals and reducing or stopping the secretion of melancholy-producing hormones. The choices are endless. Meals al fresco, coffee breaks outside of the office, walks after dinner. Switch your indoor exercise sessions to outdoors. Perhaps even try something new such as rollerblading, tennis or swimming at the town pool.
- Savor summer fruits and vegetables and support your local farmer’s market. The abundance of in-season produce available at this time of year makes eating healthy during the summer a breeze. If you are luck enough to have a local farmer’s market, it can make grocery shopping fun rather than a chore. Vendors love to share recipes, so don’t be afraid to ask and experiment with some of the less well-known varieties of produce you’ll find.
- Plan a vacation, even if it’s just for a day. There is nothing like time off to refresh and rejuvenate you as long as you truly make it a vacation. Set the auto-respond message on your email stating that you are out of the office, leave the trade magazines behind and grab a juicy novel, and let your office and colleagues know that you are unavailable. If you can’t escape for an extended vacation, take a mini one. One day away can do the trick, and local hotels often charge a minimal fee to spend the day at their pool and spa. Take a long weekend by the beach or in the mountains. Check out park and recreation departments in your neighboring towns, and you might find some hiking and biking trails you didn’t know exist.
- Lighten up! Swap your go-to perfume or cologne for a lightweight fruit or citrus based scent. Replace heavy makeup with tinted moisturizers and lip-glosses. Enjoy easy or no-cook light meals such as salads, cold soups, sandwiches, or even breakfast fare for dinner. Put away heavy comforters and enjoy a lighter blanket or beautiful sheets. On cooler nights, open the windows and shut the AC. You’ll save on electricity and reap the benefits of fresh air. And if at all possible, take advantage of clients and associates on vacation, and lighten up your workload.
- Stay healthy. Make sure to use sunscreen, exercise in the early morning or evening to avoid the excessive heat, and increase your water consumption. If biking, hiking, or camping in woodsy areas, use bug repellent sprays and check your body from head to toe when returning indoors. When gardening, wear lightweight long sleeves, pants and gloves. Know what poison ivy looks like, and check around the area before plunging in. Heed warnings of rough tide or jellyfish at the beach, and don’t dive into lakes or streams that aren’t cleared for swimming.
Come September, I hope you’ll look back and have memories of a great summer. Remember, they don’t magically occur. Plan for it and the next two months will be filled with good health and tons of fun.