Summer is finally here! Summer is made for fun in the sun and for making memories that will last a lifetime. After over a year of quarantines, lockdowns, and social distancing, it might be challenging to navigate how to take advantage of this time and reconnect to the world around us. Maybe you're looking for unique ways to bond as a family and stay entertained during the long Summer break. To help take some of the pressure off, here are ten simple, cost-effective, and stress-free ways you can make the most of your Summer.
1. Take a break from tech and devices.
Vacations come in all different shapes and sizes, so how about embracing a tech break. For you, that might be making a conscious effort to reduce time spent scrolling social media or maybe cutting an hour of TV in favor of a different activity like reading. This can be hard to do at first, but research shows we gain so much from denying ourselves the instant gratification of tech: you may notice increased awareness of the present moment, improved sleep quality, and even increases in overall productivity and contentment!
2. Create a summer tradition.
We all remember the Summers of our childhoods. Maybe that meant a long weekend camping with the family, pool days with ice cream and burgers, perhaps even a trip to the local water park to beat the heat! Try carrying that love of Summer into your life as an adult, and create a Summer Tradition with intention and dedication. This could be a cookout with friends with lawn games (your own little Summer Olympics) held around the same time every year. Traditions have the power to bring us together and create a sense of continuity in our lives, so why not make some of your own?
3. Spend time outside daily.
Humans were meant to be outside! Our bodies crave fresh air, sunlight, and the grass beneath our feet. This doesn't need to take the form of a significant lifestyle change. Simply going on a walk around the neighborhood or through a local park can do wonders for our mental health. And it's not just our mental state that improves! Time outside has been known to impact our physical health in profound ways. Our bodies need vitamin D, but most of us are unaware of just how little we actually get most of the time due to our modern lifestyles. Time spent in sunlight literally fuels our bodies. Believe it or not, time outside (even if it's simply sitting on a bench and enjoying the wind rustling the leaves of a tree) can actively lower our blood pressure and reduce stress-related hormones like adrenaline or cortisol. So get out there and smell the roses!
4. Go local - visit your local farmers market.
Going local is a great way to support your community this Summer, and there are lots of ways to enrich your life through what your town has to offer. You can choose to shop at a local independent bookstore, intentionally shop at small businesses or restaurants. You can even find a local farmers market to incorporate regionally grown veggies and produce into your diet. Going local is a great way to feel connected to your community, support your neighbors, and you can make a whole day's adventure out of it!
5. Fitness - try a new sport!
Taking on a new hobby, especially one related to fitness, can feel overwhelming. Not knowing what to do in the gym or the exorbitant cost of memberships might be enough to lead you down that "I'll wait till next year" path. But there are plenty of ways to be active that take some of that pressure off. Consider joining an intramural or recreational sports team. You'll have the chance to gather with a new group of people, potentially meet new friends, and discover a new hobby that's as good for the body as it is for the soul! The point of these local leagues isn't about competition but to have fun - and isn't that what Summer is all about?
6. Go camping.
Camping is a great way to embrace the joys of Summer. According to the National Park Service, most Americans live within a hundred miles of a National Park - meaning chances are, there is one within driving distance of you! Spend time roasting marshmallows by a fire, tell stories, and take time to appreciate a starry night sky. If roughing it isn't your style, there are plenty of reasonably priced vacation rentals - from cabins in the woods to lakeside cottages - maybe even a yurt! Car camping is also an easy and cost-effective option for those of us that aren't quite outdoorsy enough to justify buying fancy gear.
7. Become a tourist in your own town.
Seek out historical landmarks, local art museums (and non-art museums), botanical gardens, and parks for endless summer adventures. Our local communities are filled with hidden treasures. Chances are there are endless local events and activities scheduled in your area for both kids and adults - municipal message boards and newsletters are a great place to find these opportunities. Being a tourist in your own town can connect you to your community in a whole new way. You might even find a new appreciation for spaces you've completely overlooked in the past!
8. Set aside some time for an act of service.
Acts of service can take many forms and enrich our lives profoundly - doing good for others does good for us too. Volunteering for a local charity, animal shelter or finding volunteering opportunities through your chosen place of worship are great options. But our lives are busy, and not everyone has the time to dedicate a regular number of hours per week to a particular cause. That being said, there are small things you can do to be of service in seemingly mundane moments. Going to the beach or your local park? Bring a trash bag with you and clean up any litter you come across throughout the day.
9. Update your outdoor space.
If you're lucky enough to have access to an outdoor space of your own - take time this Summer to update it. The better your space looks and functions, the more likely you are to spend time in it! Treat yourself to some special outdoor string lights, clean up that neglected balcony, do some gardening, or hang a hammock for some afternoon reading (or napping!). Giving our spaces a little makeover can radically improve our mood, and what better time than Summer to create an outdoor haven you'll love to be in?
10. Show a friend how much they mean to you.
This past year has been particularly stressful for many of us. With the drastic change in our lifestyles and the need to socially distance, despite our best efforts, some of the friendships in our lives may have been neglected. Summer is the perfect time to reconnect with our near and dear. Even if you are physically separated from those you care about, we can always find little ways of letting them know just how much they mean to you. Set some time aside to schedule a long FaceTime catch-up, or check out The Future You Project shop for a unique way to show someone special to you that are thinking about them. This Summer, reach out to the ones you love and set aside time to nourish those relationships.