Summer is often a time for play, vacation + relaxation. And man, do we need it! In our fast-pased society we can lose sight of the benefits of slowing down and taking time to rest. Packed lunches, play dates, sports, work projects, birthdays, volunteer works - and capturing it all on social media. AHH! #toomuch
This past year was a big stress mess for me personally. I was working 3 jobs as a stay at home mom, our oldest started Kindergarten which meant more activites and homework every night, and my husband's job picked up which caused a lot of OT for us both. We made sure our weekends were kept for mostly fun and serving at our church, but once summer hit I realized just how crazed we had been since last August.
Stress is a HUGE factor in sickness.
The American Psychological Association says, "When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period, it becomes even more dangerous. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for both your mind and body." If you check this fact sheet , it's pretty obvious stress leads to tons of health problems, most irreversible!
Let us tie this back into summertime, when the livin's easy(ier). Many of us use the summer to rebuild our reserves for the rest of the busy year. Smart. That is what I knew I needed to do this year in particular. I could not succeed at anything and keep my health if I did not slow down. So early pool mornings with the boys, working during nap times and dinners on the beach have truly helped me regain my brain.
What about you? Even if your schedule doesn't change much in the summer, you can add relaxation into your daily routine.
• Set the alarm a bit earlier (didn't you say relax?) and read a book you've had on your nightstand for months. Go to the park and read under a tree. Or on a hammock! #dreams
• Try to eat as many meals as possible outside, away from TV + your phone. Breathe in the air and stare at nature. I got off all personal social media in January and it was one of the best decisions I've made. If you feel you can't break away from it all, at least leave your phone in the car while you stare at the ocean.
• Exercise. I'm not saying regular New Year's resolution gym style, but something you actually like doing. It’s time to enjoy the powers of reconnecting to your body through both movement and relaxation. Our bodies loves to move.
Even though our body is healthiest when it is getting appropriate physical activity, we often feel dread when we hear the word “exercise”. Think for a moment of what type of movement you would consider fun as opposed to torturous. Perhaps you hate the idea of a gym, but want to try yoga. You could play touch football with your kids, walk with a neighbor in the mornings or go for a swim. I try to not beat myself up about not making all my traditional gym trips and replace some workout days with stand up paddle boarding or pool workouts. The summer offers so many choices – it’s simply up to you to choose which style of movement suites you. Your heart will thank you, your mind will be gratified, your limbs will be more fluid and you’ll sleep much better at night.
So while summer is with us, strap on your sandals and enjoy the rich elements of sun, wind and water...along with the nourishment they bring.
Sources and Additional Reading:
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, 2011