What does “self-care” look like?
When we talk about preserving one’s mental health, often times the term “self-care” gets brought up. What does it mean? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care means, “Taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.” Typically, some everyday self-care rituals we can practice include things like drinking enough water, getting a good night’s sleep, or practicing gratitude. However, with the onset of summer, there are some self-care rituals that might only be available (or, best enjoyed) during warmer months and longer days. Here are a few we recommend:
Add fresh fruit to your water bottle
While fruit may be available year-round in the supermarket, some of them really do taste better during the summer months. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches and cantaloup are just a few of the many fruits that are much more enjoyable better between June-August, when they are ripe and fresh off the vines.
Schedule weekly visits to your local farmer’s market
As if the above ritual of adding fruit to your water bottle didn’t convince you enough, summer months are also the best time to enjoy most vegetables at your local farm stand. Corn, tomatoes, asparagus, lettuce are all fresher and taste better when purchased from a local vendor in your region. In addition, many farmer’s markets offer specialty hand-made items not found in your grocery store (think: organic soaps, candles, and honey made from local bees). Carve out extra time to visit these markets weekly in your area and allow your senses enjoy what they have to offer during the summer months.
Ride a bike each day
While this can be done during any season, bicycling is best enjoyed in nature when the sun is shining and the daylight hours are abundant. Many state parks offer recreational bike trails where you can see birds, deer, and other animals in their natural habitat during the warm season. If you’re intimated by off-road biking, then try pedaling around your neighborhood to a local park or along a riverfront. Biking is also a great social activity and there might be groups of people in your area who meet up just for the purpose of enjoying a bike ride in summer. A quick web search should help you find any such groups.
Take a month-long break from social media
We know social media is bad for your mental health and yet, so many of us have a hard time staying off. Challenge yourself to delete social apps from your phone during one (or all) of the summer months and experiment with living your life and having thoughts and opinions that are NOT shared with your friends and followers. In addition, think about how muting the daily amplification of your friends’ and followers’ thoughts, opinions and daily activities might improve your mood and give you back the free time you need to be present for what is happening around you in real time.
Grab the local library’s summer reading list
Did you know most local libraries offer a summer reading list for people who need book ideas? If you can’t remember the last time you read a book and want to dive back in (Because, after all, you are taking a break from social media and now have time, right?), we suggest you start with recommendations from the professionals. If you’re intimidated by going to the library, you also might be able to get their book recommendations on their website and download the digital versions for free to a Kindle for a period of time (just like borrowing hardcover books).
Make time for summer self-care
For best results, rituals of self-care should be practiced year-round. However, be sure to also make the most of the summer months and add some warm-weather activities and pleasures to your routine. Your mind and body will thank you!