Blue skies, sunshine, green grass, and flowers. What’s better than summertime? But if we don’t adopt a mindful approach to summer, it could be over before we know it!
Summer is fleeting. In a few months, the air turns crisp and autumn leaves begin to fall. We’d all love to maximize the joy of summer…but how?
Embrace these twelve ingredients to serve up a slow and mindful summer to remember. If you want to make this year count, slow down and enjoy the summer season.
1. Be Present and Mindful
We all get the feeling time is moving faster and faster. When we’re young, summers seem to stretch out forever. Long days are spent at the pool, playing with friends, and having adventures.
As we get older, it’s harder to experience those same joyful moments of the summer season. Time seems to speed up and the days pass quickly before we know it.
In the book The Art of Stopping Time, Pedram Shojai outlines the importance of mindfulness in our daily lives. He suggests thinking of your life as a garden. You can only plant so many important activities in your garden and still have enough space for the plants to thrive. Mindfulness allows us to deliberately “plant” our garden and allocate our time for what matters.
This idea means we need to weed out the distractions causing us to be less present and mindful. Instead of worrying about the future or replaying the past, focus on being present and engaged in the moment. Plant your life garden with deliberate, meaningful activities.
2. Practice Meditation
If you’ve never meditated before, summer is a wonderful time to start. There are plenty of benefits associated with meditation and many successful, happy people attribute their joy to meditation.
If you’re new to the practice, only attempt a short period at a time (start with 5-10 minutes). Work up to longer meditations as it becomes habitual.
For meditation newbies, there are many apps and tech tools to help you engage in the practice. A few to explore are:
You could also take a class on mindfulness or a yoga class (mindful yoga practices are often referred to as yin yoga, or there’s the ultra-relaxing practice of yoga nidra). Once you get started, add meditation to your mindful summer routine and start enjoying the benefits.
3. Incorporate Healthy Activities
Summer is all about health. Plants are growing, fruits and veggies are in season, and longer days mean more time for healthy fun.
Think of ways to add healthy activities throughout your day. These could include activities that support your physical or mental/emotional health.
A few healthy mindful summer activities:
- Journaling on gratitude
- Walking or jogging
- Exercise or movement classes
- Bike riding
- Team sports
- Playing with kids
There are so many opportunities to get active and feel healthier in the summer. An active lifestyle helps you feel more energized, less stressed, and more engaged in mindful summer living.
4. Choose Sunscreen Over Screen Time
Instead of vegging out in front of the television, spending time on your phone, or scrolling through your laptop, turn off those screens and put on your sunscreen!
In the colder months, it’s natural to hunker down and watch movies, work on your blog, or scroll through social media. But in the summer, there are so many ways to get involved in real life!
If you want to have a mindful summer but worry your screen addiction is getting in the way, it may be time for a digital detox. Check out my guide to breaking your screen and social media addiction. Limit your phone use and screen time so you get outdoors instead (don’t forget your hat and natural SPF 50+).
5. Stay Hydrated and Cool
How many of us forget about hydration in the summer? We get so busy with activities and fun, we forget one of the most important activities for our health: drinking water.
Our bodies are made up of 60% water. We need water to keep everything moving and working properly. This is especially important in the summer when we may easily become dehydrated.
Stay aware of these signs of dehydration:
- Digestive issues
If you don’t feel well, you can’t stay mindful and present. Keep your body running by drinking plenty of cold, refreshing water. It will help you beat the heat!
6. Dine Al Fresco
I don’t know about you, but I love dining outdoors. There’s something about enjoying a beautiful meal in the sunshine that feels joyful and even more nourishing. When you dine outside, you often take more time to linger and enjoy the beauty around you. You’re free from distractions (like the television), and you’re more present.
Whether you choose to enjoy a picnic on a blanket, eat on your patio, or dine at a sidewalk café, take time to sit down, eat slowly, and savor your meal. Look at the sights and listen to the sounds around you. If you’re eating in nature, enjoy the beautiful environment.
The summer is the perfect time to grill or picnic, so take advantage! Come winter, you’ll feel thankful you truly savored your meals outdoors.
7. Enjoy Seasonal Flavors
Summer is a time of bounty. There are so many fruits and vegetables available—tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines (eggplant), broccoli, corn, squash, and cauliflower, to name a few! Think of all the delicious berries, figs, and currants in season as well. Of course, don’t forget about melon and avocados!
It seems summer is the ideal time for delicious fresh salad greens and herbs. Our appetites are often lighter in the summer, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy simple, fresh, seasonal dining.
When we eat with the seasons, our bodies and digestion are more aligned with the foods. We rarely crave heavy pasta, bread, or hearty soups in the summertime. Instead, it’s all about the fresh, bright flavors.
Visit a farmer’s market or produce market and select a few new items to eat. When fruits and veggies are in season, it’s the perfect opportunity to taste them at their peak. Even if you aren’t sure you will enjoy the flavor, give it a taste. You never know how your palate will evolve.
8. Follow the Sun’s Schedule
If you want to keep your energy up in the summer months, follow the cycle of the sun. This means going to bed when the sun is starting to set and rising early when the sun comes up.
Our bodies are naturally attuned to the rhythms of the earth. When we follow the sun’s patterns, we’re tired at appropriate times and we’re getting plenty of vitamin D.
If you’re a night owl who prefers to stay up late, consider the benefits of getting to bed and waking up consistently. Putting your body on a schedule where you get 7-8 hours of sleep per night will help you stay healthy and fresh.
About an hour before you go to bed, do the following:
- Put away your screens (blue light disrupts sleep).
- Cool the room.
- Wind down with tea or warm milk.
- Take a relaxing bath or spend quiet time reading, meditating, or journaling.
- Close room-darkening curtains (especially if the sun will come up before you awaken).
- Turn on white noise if you’re sensitive to sounds during sleep.
- Use lavender aromatherapy.
- Prepare for tomorrow (make sure your clothes, meals, etc. are ready).
- Put away your concerns for the day.
These practices contribute to a better night’s sleep and help you wind down easily. In the morning, drink a glass of water and do light stretching to help you feel energized for the day ahead.
9. Protect Your Personal Time
If you want to have a mindful summer, protect your personal time. Look at your schedule and identify areas where your obligations bleed over into your essential “me time.” What could you cancel or move to keep your schedule light?
There are so many events and commitments that arise during the summer—from outings with friends to vacations and more. It’s easy to find we’re overcommitted and running around (the opposite of the slow, mindful summer we’re envisioning).
Protect your schedule by cutting back on obligations. Last summer, my husband, son, and I moved into a tiny house for a few weeks. This allowed us to spend more time together, focused on our family. If you have the opportunity to get away or spend time in nature, I highly recommend it. Don’t jam-pack your vacation schedule or commit to too many obligations. Instead, go with the flow.
Simplifying helps us stay mindful and present. Nowhere is simplification more important than our schedule. Time is one of our most limited and precious commodities.
10. Create a Summer Wishlist
What does summer really mean to you? What is the essence of summer? It could include swimming in the ocean, building a sandcastle at the beach, walking in the sunshine, or picking a bouquet of wildflowers. For some people, an ideal summer may mean boating, going to a festival, or spending time at a retreat.
Whatever your vision of the ideal summer, make it happen. Set up your summer wish list to include those activities that really help you feel the essence of the season.
You don’t need to cram your wish list with every summer activity but put forth a conscious effort to include those important summer moments in your life.
When you find time to stargaze, camp, or go for a bike ride in the country, take time to breathe it in. Be present and mindful in the moment. Appreciate these very special summer times.
11. Engage Your Senses
Summer isn’t only about doing. It’s also about being. How do we stay present and grounded in the moment? By engaging our senses.
If you’re at an outdoor concert, for example, listen to the music. Really close your eyes and take it in.
When you’re in a meadow, smell the flowers. Savor the scent of a ripe tomato. Enjoy the smell of campfire.
I’ve mentioned enjoying the tastes of summer, but when you’re eating a seasonal food, really take time to mindfully experience each flavorful bite.
Enjoy the sights and sensory experiences of summer as well. Appreciate what you see in nature. Feel the grass on your feet or the warm sun on your face. Enjoy the feeling of a summer rainfall as it cools your body down.
Our senses keep us connected to the present. If you want to experience a slow, mindful summer, connect with the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and sensations of this wonderful time of year.
12. Grow Something Green
Not everyone enjoys gardening as a hobby, but nearly everyone benefits from growing something green. Plants keep us connected to nature. They clean the air and beautify our surroundings.
Digging in the dirt may even strengthen our immune systems and benefit our mental health by exposing us to microbes. Working in the sun increases our levels of vitamin D and getting fresh air feels good! There are many health benefits from gardening and it’s rewarding to see the literal fruits of your labor.
If you’re new to gardening, plant a few containers on the porch or windowsill. Easy (edible) summer plants to grow include:
Succulents aren’t typically edible, but they’re also easy to grow and enjoyable. If you have a small space, don’t dismiss the opportunity to exercise your green thumb.
Keep the spirit of summer alive with memories to last well into the colder winter months. This summer, practice being mindful and present. Focus on all the wonderful aspects of the season and you’ll experience the best summer ever.