No matter the season or day of the week, it’s time to put yourself on your to-do list and give yourself the same love and respect that you give to others.
Below, I share ten summer self-care ideas, but many of them will work any time of year. (I’m simply focusing on summer self-care because it’s summer.)
Of course, self-care shouldn’t be reserved for the summer or when we have time for it — it’s something we need to do continuously to stay healthy and restore our energy. However, summer schedules tend to be a bit looser, many of us take time off from work, and there’s more daylight during the summer, so it’s a little easier to put self-care at the forefront.
What is self-care and why is it so hard to practice?
Self-care is anything healthy that we do to meet our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Many of us have trouble prioritizing self-care even though we know it’s good for us. We’ve spent so many years trying to please others, putting their needs first, and sacrificing our own needs, that it feels strange and uncomfortable to do things for ourselves.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and it’s true; you can’t continue to take care of your family, achieve your goals, and live in alignment with your values if you’re burnt out. We have to prioritize self-care because we deserve to be healthy and happy. There is no perfect time to start – so, why not start today?
You can start to practice better self-care by doing just one small thing for yourself today. It doesn’t need to be monumental or expensive.
Self-care meets our needs. So, it can be helpful to ask yourself: “How do I feel right now? What do I need?” This is a good way to start tuning into yourself and figuring out if you need connection, rest, or nourishment, for example.
10 Summer Self-Care Ideas
- Have some summer fun. Get in touch with your playful, creative inner-child and make a list of fun summertime activities. Then make a plan to do some of them this summer! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- play mini golf
- make homemade ice cream
- go to the county fair
- go to a water park or amusement park
- take a trip to the beach
- have a picnic in the park
- watch the sunset
- go camping
- feed the ducks
- have a water balloon toss/fight
- Don’t stress about your appearance or size. Most of us don’t have “beach bodies” or look like supermodels. Don’t let this stop you from putting on a swimsuit, shorts, or a tank top and enjoying summer. We are all far too self-critical and most people are too busy worrying about their own appearance to notice what you look like in your bathing suit.
- Don’t overcommit. Boundaries are one of the most important forms of self-care. They allow us to prioritize ourselves and not overcommit or sign-up for things we don’t really want to do. Without boundaries, we become physically and emotionally exhausted, stressed, and resentful. Self-care is choosing to take care of your needs and recognizing that you can’t do everything – you simply don’t have the time, energy, or money; we all have to make choices and set our priorities. As Paulo Coelho said, “When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you aren’t saying ‘no’ to yourself.”
- Read something for fun. Summer’s a great time to grab a copy of that best-selling novel you’ve been dying to read or make some headway on the stack of books you’ve already bought (and haven’t had time to read). Not sure what to read? Check out this summer reading list from Goodreads. Or if you’d like to read something for personal development, I’ve got a long list of self-help books on my website. And don’t forget, audiobooks are a great option if you’re taking a road trip or just prefer to listen.
- Spend time with friends. Summer is also a good time to connect with your friends. Perhaps you’d like to invite a friend along on one of your summer adventures or just try to have lunch (or even catch up by phone or Skype) with a different friend once a week. Alternatively, if you’re running a bit low on friends, make an effort to meet some new people (perhaps try some Meetup groups or a class at the community center).
- Enjoy more fresh fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of the abundance of delicious (and cheaper) produce during the summer. I just bought the sweetest strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. Yum! And summer tomatoes and corn on the cob – they’re so good, and good for you! A trip to the farmer’s market is also a great summer self-care outing.
- Take a break from social media or technology. Taking even a short break from social media, the 24-hour newsfeed, intrusive text messages, and so on, can give you some much needed emotional respite. You don’t have to take a week-long hiatus; maybe try turning off your phone for a couple hours or deleting the Facebook app so it’s just a little bit harder to get your fix.
- Get some sun (but not too much). We all know that sunlight has a positive effect on mental health, particularly your mood. But, in many places, it’s really hot and humid in the summer! So, don’t push yourself to spend too much time in the sun simply because it’s summer and you should be outside. Listen to your body; it will tell you when you’ve had enough sun. And it’s always good advice to drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and know the signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Sometimes the best form of summer self-care is staying inside and soaking up the air conditioning!
- Don’t do it all yourself. If you have some perfectionist and people-pleasing tendencies, as I do, you might spend your summer making sure everyone else is having fun, while you’re feeling burdened or resentful. It’s certainly nice to host BBQs, find the perfect summer camps for your kids, and plan family vacations, it’s also a ton of work. Please remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself! If you’re married, ask your spouse for help or if you’re entertaining, make it a potluck. You deserve to relax and enjoy the summer as much as anyone.
- Let things be imperfect. In addition to asking for help, we also need to let go of our controlling tendencies and the need for things to be just right. Often, we have a vision of how thing should be and when reality doesn’t measure up, we feel disappointed and angry. The alternative is to go with the flow, loosen our standards, and try to enjoy the present moment – imperfections and all.
I hope these self-care ideas will help you take care of your needs and have a relaxing, fun, and refreshing summer.
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©2018 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
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