There is a special day you can celebrate without getting up from the sofa. Lazy Day (10th August) is an ideal excuse to take a break and enjoy some precious “me” time, without feeling guilty about it.
It’s your chance to stop running around doing chores and organising activities for the kids. Sit down and relax, or go back to bed for a nap. You could even mark the occasion by pampering yourself with a massage treatment or Reflexology– if getting there doesn’t seem too much like hard work, that is.
The phrase “lazy days of summer” feels like an indulgence in a time when our warm-weather weekends are filled with as many activities, road trips, workouts, and paleo-friendly BBQ’s as possible. (No wonder researchers have found that women’s stress levels spike in the summer.)
Clearly, taking time out for summer self-care is essential to stop burnout. Balance your summer by planning activities that allow you to recharge while still taking advantage of everything that’s so great about the season. What that means is simply choosing to treat yourself with the same care, kindness, and willingness you treat other people you have relationships with, be they friends, family, or spouses.
Self-care plays an important role in showering yourself with love and attention, and this doesn’t mean using all your savings up on a shopping spree. Self-care is much more fundamental than that, and there is no better time to practice a little self-care than in summer.
Check out this list of 7 fun and creative self-care ideas:
Soak up some Sun
Soaking up some rays shouldn’t be a by-product of your pre-scheduled summer plans like going to a festival or taking the kids to the park.
Even simply sitting in your garden for breakfast, or a quick walk at lunchtime, embracing the warmth and light, encourages reflection and boosts your health.
Your body converts the sun’s rays into Vitamin D which helps your cells absorb calcium to keep bones healthy as well as potentially helps prevent some chronic diseases.
Take a break from technology
“Everything seems to slow down a little bit in the summer, so it might be a good time to try experimenting with different ways to take a break from the constant motion of the hectic work schedule of the rest of the year,” said Carla Naumburg, a clinical social worker and author of the blog Mindful Parenting.
For instance, she suggests experimenting with not using technology, such as your smartphone, laptop or tablet, an hour or two before bed. This technology break will lower your exposure to blue light and help you get in touch with your natural circadian rhythms.
Also, try taking an entire day off from technology either each week or on your summer vacation. “Let your co-workers and family members know ahead of time that you won’t be on email during that time, and give yourself a chance to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones,” Naumburg said.
Schedule in a technology free day, unplug from the virtual world and cherish your human connections and your relationships with friends and family.
Nourish your mind and body with seasonal food
If you wake up suffering from the effects of one too many Gins, a dose of healthy, whole foods will help you to feel better all day long. Holistic health coach Molly Alliman suggests beginning your morning with a chilled smoothie since it’ll give you a big hit of nutrients without much effort. Plus, when you feed your body with healthy foods first thing, you’ll be less likely to crave the sugary treats later on.
In the summertime, many delicious fruits and vegetables are in season. Challenge yourself to try a new fruit or vegetable every week. Adding colour to your diet will ensure you get a rainbow of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, so experiment with new variations of basic fruits and veggies like purple carrots.
Spend time outside
“A recent study found that there was around a 50 percent improvement in people’s mental health if they were physically active in the natural environment,” says Jacquelyn Casado, Equinox Tier X Trainer. “Research has shown that the brain likes to be outside. Whether you are in a forest or concrete jungle, you will automatically turn down your stress response, stimulating your endorphins.”
What you do once you get out of the house is entirely up to you. Pick an outdoor activity that brings you joy (and doesn’t feel like a “chore or obligation”). Ideas for outdoor activities include gardening, hiking, biking or swimming. Other ideas are golfing, berry picking and exercising outside. Look out for gyms, boot camps and yoga studios that offer outdoor classes.
The important thing is not to take your activity of choice too seriously. “Go outside and become a kid again,” Casado stresses. “Find a swing set and swing, do some flips in the pool, ride a bike around the city with no destination in mind. Just move, smile, and have fun.”
Whatever it is, connect to your inner child and do it.
Give your skin some summer rituals
Save the facial steams and hot baths for the colder months. On a summer self-care day, cooling skin-care rituals are more beneficial.
“One of the unintentional mistakes we make in the first few weeks of summer is not transitioning our skin into a more heated environment,” says Therapeutic Skin Coach founder Hayley Wood. “Some of us regulate heat better than others, and if you don’t release it fast enough, it could eventually turn into inflammation.”
Her favourite way to achieve this is by freezing freshly-brewed chamomile tea in an ice cube tray. Just wrap a few cubes in a thin paper towel and massage them into your face—giving extra love to areas with breakouts, redness, or sunburn.
The aesthetician also suggests taking a cool shower once you’ve returned home for the day. “I like to follow it up with a self-massage using coconut oil or avocado oil,” she says. “The massage helps calm the nervous system and assist the body’s natural rhythm of detoxification, while the omegas [in the oil] help to soothe and restore dehydrated, damaged skin.”
Sleep, drink water and hydrate your skin this summer and you’ll find you’ll be more comfortable in your skin.
Self-care comes into its own in mindfulness practices like yoga. By integrating gentle stretching, poses, deep breathing, and meditation, yoga practice helps you feel both healthier as well as more positive and less stressed.
Prep for bed with a cooling yoga routine
Deep sleep is the ultimate self-care practice, but if your room is too warm, it can be tough to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep cycles.
To help improve your sleep, yoga and meditation instructor Lindsey Valdez recommends a three-part bedtime ritual that combines cooling breathwork with soothing yoga poses. (A recorded version is available on the Yoga Wake Up app, along with tons of other a.m. and p.m. yoga routines that can be done from the comfort of your bed.)
First, Valdez says, start with Sitali pranayama while laying with the soles of your feet together and your knees apart. “Making an ‘O’ shape with your mouth, curl the edges of your tongue inward like a taco,” she says. “Begin inhaling through your curled tongue as if you were sipping water through a straw. To exhale, pull your tongue back into your mouth, closing your lips gently as you slowly breathe out through your nose.”
Once you’ve repeated these eight to ten times, she says, drop your legs down to the left while you twist your torso to the right, keeping your arms overhead in a V shape. Reverse your twist, and then situate yourself so you can lie with your legs up the wall for another eight to ten rounds of Sitali breath. “Once you’re done, relax here for another two to three minutes as you seal in your gratitude for the day,” says Valdez.
Scents have a powerful ability to affect mood, concentration, and memory. Try a little aromatherapy this summer by burning a candle with a smell you love while you go about daily chores, or diffuse essential oils with an aroma diffuser (check out the range of Neals Yard Diffusers here).
Essential oils including lavender, sandalwood, and frankincense have been shown to aid feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety while peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and sage promote focus, mental clarity, and memory.
Self-care means permitting yourself to pause.