Raise your hand if you’ve been looking forward to lounging on the beach, eating gelato and getting lost in a good book? Make the most of the season with these 16 inspiring ideas for a happy and healthy summer!
How to Have a Happy and Healthy Summer…
1. Stay hydrated
Yes, we all know that we should drink enough water. But getting enough fluids in is especially important on warm days, when your body loses more water through increased sweating. Up to 60% of your body is made of water, and this water plays a vital role in functions like regulating body temperature, digesting foods, transporting nutrients throughout our body and protecting your cell membranes.
So have a glass of lemon water or herbal tea first thing in the morning to rehydrate after a night’s sleep and carry a bottle of (infused) water with you when you head outdoors. And if you drinking water all day is a bit too blend for your taste, try one of these refreshing drinks.
2. Take extra care of your skin
Sunshine is your number one source of vitamin D, a vitamin needed to keep your bones strong, support your immune system and protect your mental health. Too much sun exposure, however, damages your skin, putting your at risk for skin cancer. At the same time, sunscreen lotions are currently under scrutiny, because some of the chemical active ingredients they contain may be harmful to your health and the environment. How can you get the benefits of sunshine and still protect your skin?
- Soak up the sunlight in the early morning or late afternoon. Depending on where you live, the sun’s high in the sky between 11am and 3pm. It’s best to stay in the shade during these peak hours. So grab your daily dose of vitamin D early or late in the day.
- Cover up. Wear lightweight clothes and a cute hat to avoid sunburn and premature aging of your skin. Consider buying UV-protective clothes for young kids who love playing outside.
- Research the best sunscreen lotion for you. The regulations regarding sunscreen and the ingredients used seem to differ from continent to continent, making it hard to give good advice on which brands to use. Here are some US-based sunscreen guides to get you started.
- Eat your sun protection. UV rays generate free radicals in the body, molecules that damage cells. Thankfully, antioxidants in berries, leafy greens, carrots and dark chocolate help fight these free radicals. So eat a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables and stock up on antioxidant-rich spices to protect your skin from the inside out.
3. Enjoy warm-weather workouts
On bright and sunny days, swap your regular gym class for outdoor activities you enjoy. Not only is it fun and good for your body to change things up, but moving your body outside has multiple benefits. Get some fresh air and vitamin-D producing sunshine, preferably in mood-enhancing green surroundings, by playing frisbee in the park or going for a hike. Work your way up to walking 10,000 steps a day or gradually build your fitness with cycling. Swimming also gives you a full-body workout, while being easy on the joints thanks to being weightless in the water.
Just make sure you adapt your workout on hot days. Exercise early in the morning when it’s relatively cool. Take it easy, don’t push yourself too hard. And of course, wear natural sunscreen and stay hydrated.
4. Green up
During the summer months there’s an abundance of fresh fruit, veggies and herbs. No better time to eat the rainbow! Curb your sugar cravings by replacing sweet snacks with nature’s treats: cherries, peaches, mango and berries. Challenge yourself to eat veggies with every meal or make one of these health-boosting herb recipes to green up your diet.
5. Become a star at healthy entertaining
Long summer evenings were made for al fresco dinners with friends. But that doesn’t have to mean eating barbecued sausages every weekend. For a happy and healthy summer, check out this better-for-you grilling guide, or even better, these plant-based BBQ recipes. You can also serve vibrant veggie platters with your drinks or chocolate chia ice cream for dessert. And what’s better than juicy fruit, from this Mexican style fruit platter to grilled peaches with sweet cream or healthy campfire banana boats?
6. Embrace high-quality rest
What’s more relaxing than chilling in a hammock or having a lazy afternoon in the park? Summer vacation is the ideal time to slow down and live in the moment. But most of us confuse hanging around with real resting. High-quality rest means more than lying still and keeping activity to a minimum. It involves activating your body’s natural relaxation response, a state of deep rest that balances your nervous system.
So maximize your downtime by truly relaxing your body and mind. Meditation, breathing exercises and gentle movement like yoga and t’ai chi are powerful practices that slow down your heart rate, relax your muscles and clear your mind. But you could also put your phone away, potter around the garden and soak in a healing bath for summer. Whatever calms you down, recharge and revitalizes you!
Oh and if the thought of being bored terrifies you: boredom may actually be good for you. Because if you’re always connected and always entertained, when will your mind have the time to wonder freely, connect new ideas and reflect on what truly matters?
7. Try mindfulness in motion
You don’t have to sit in lotus to meditate. If being silent and inactive is not your thing, why not try meditative movement? You can take a rhythm-based dance class or simply be mindful while you run. Just be present while you do your daily activities. And if you find it difficult to quiet your mind, you could do a mindful body scan or keep bringing your attention back to your breathing.
8. Keep bugs at bay
When the sun shines, human beings aren’t the only ones coming out to play. Creepy crawlies are everywhere, and as important as bees and other bugs are for our ecosystem, few things are more annoying than insect bites. You could try these DIY natural bug repellants to keep unwanted visitors away – or make a soothing bug bite balm if you’re too late.
And when you’re heading out into nature, watch out for ticks. The American CDC recently warned that tick-borne diseases are on the rise and prevention should be on everyone’s mind. Wellness Mama shares some good tips on how to protect yourself from getting tick bites and how to safely remove them.
9. Pick up healthy habits from around the world
Going abroad is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture. During your travels you might also catch a glimpse of what people all over the world do every day to lead healthy and happy lives, from the longevity secrets of the Blue Zones to countless medicinal foods. So bring home a lasting souvenir by picking up a few healthy habits from your destination. To get you started, here are the 8 best health tips from around the world.
…. Even If You’re Chronically Ill
10. Design your summer
Summertime isn’t a joyful season for everyone. When you’re living with chronic illness, it can be confronting to see your friends going to the beach, visiting festivals and sipping cocktails in the sun, while you’re stuck at home. But just because you can’t join all the fun, doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun.
So what do you really want to do this summer? Which activities would make you feel happy and alive? First, make a long list, looking at your heart’s wishes instead of practical limitations. Next, take a close look at the things you’d love to do most. Is there any way you could make it happen, with some serious planning? If not, what is it about that activity that you’re longing for? For example, do you wish you could have more adventure and excitement in your life, or time spend with friends. Now, how can you satisfy those underlying needs, even if it’s in a different, unconventional way?
And lastly, are there any small summertime rituals you could create to get that summer feeling? Simple pleasures like sipping your morning coffee in the sunshine, eating fresh strawberries on Sundays or walking barefoot could give you an easy happiness boost.
11. Make traveling with chronic illness (a little) easier
So you’ve booked a relaxing vacation, but getting to your destination when you have chronic health problems can be a challenge. Luckily, there are things you can do to make your journey a little more comfortable. Take plenty of rest beforehand, plan ahead and ask for assistance around the airport. During your flight or drive, bring neck pillow for support, wear layers of clothing to stay comfortably warm and keep your blood flowing. Check out more world-class tips for traveling with chronic illness to have a great getaway despite the obstacles you may face.
12. Enjoy a staycation
You don’t have to leave home to get those vacation vibes. Ok, to take a real break from daily life you have to set some ground rules. But with a little planning, you can give your home that relaxing resort feel or even turn your bathroom into a home spa. If you’re well enough, play tourist in your own town and shake things up with mini adventures. And even if you’re housebound, you can bring the world to your doorstep by going on an armchair journey or cooking exotic cuisines. Have a look at these 38 staycation ideas for a happy holiday at home.
13. Beat the heat
Not everyone is thrilled when the weather forecast predicts tropical temperatures. Especially for people with heat sensitivity, warm weather can be unbearable. But also if you suffer from other chronic health problems, it’s wise to protect yourself against the heat:
- Ventilate your home during the cool early morning hours or late evening. Keep your windows and blinds (semi)closed during the rest of the day.
- Stay indoors or in the shades during the hottest times of the day. Avoid heavy activities during peak hours too!
- Keep hydrated. Make sure you drink enough (coconut) water or other refreshing drinks. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it’s best to avoid ice-cold beverages. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, cold drinks force your organs to work hard to warm up the liquids so it can be used by your body, where the core temperature is around 37 C or 98.6 F. Reasoning like this, sipping icy drinks would actually make you warmer and more tired – not what you were aiming for!
- Eat cooling foods. Cool off by incorporating hydrating foods into your menu, like cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, and gazpacho.
- Wear lightweight clothes, in light colours and made from natural materials, to avoid getting to warm.
- If you’re overheated, cool down quickly by splashing water on the body parts where your skin is thinnest: your wrists, behind your ears and under your knees. Putting your feet in a cooling foot bath can also help to get a good night’s sleep when it’s hot.
For more tips, check out Greatist’s 24 Tricks to Survive Hot Summer Night’s (Without AC).
14. Overcome summertime loneliness
When you think of loneliness, a sunny day probably isn’t the first scenario that comes to mind. And yet, summer can be a lonely season for anyone who isn’t able to go on vacation, swim in lakes or picnic in the park. In this article, I share some practical things you can do to overcome summertime loneliness.
And if you’re content to make the most of your alone time, have a look at these 30 things to do by yourself this summer or 28 fun things to do when you’re bored and sick at home.
15. Sticking to your healthy habits when everyone around you doesn’t
Summer is the time to get out the grill, drink cocktails and eat one too many ice creams. But when you have serious health problems – whether that’s diabetes, food allergies or medical diets to support your recovery – you can’t just give in to every food temptation that comes your way. Thankfully, The Everygirl shares great tips on how to eat healthy when everyone around you isn’t. Additionally, if you want to bring your own nutrient-rich twist to pizza, pancakes or burgers and fries, browse the food archives for deliciously healthy recipes.
And in case you do “fall off the wagon”, here are some science-based tips to get back on track with a healthy lifestyle again.
16. Practice the art of savouring
There are two ways to feel happier: do more things you enjoy or make the things you do more enjoyable. Chronic illness may stop you from doing fun activities, but it’s an art of living to find pleasure in the situation you’re given. Savouring means noticing and appreciating the positive things around you, by engaging all your senses. Instead of mindlessly drinking your cup of coffee on the go, slow down and really taste your java. Notice the smell, the warmth of the mug in your hand. Every time you pay attention to small pleasures in your day, you create a vivid memory that boosts your long-term happiness. So make an effort to cultivate more positive emotions by relishing the moment.
What’s your best tip for a happy and healthy summer?