This is the season when children are home from school, and we feel the energy of longer days inviting us to be active longer, stay awake later, and be more productive. While this is a great time of year to take advantage of this energy, we also need to make time to pause, do nothing, and be introspective. This balance is needed to support mental well-being. Here are some ideas to try, or perhaps they could spark new ideas for you.
Carve Out a Half Hour at the End of the Day for a Review
As you plan your day, set the intention to have fifteen minutes to a half hour at the end for a review. The longer daylight hours can make us want to stay active later at night. As part of your nighttime routine, encourage yourself to slow down and review your day, not just the activities you accomplished but also how you felt.
- Sit in a comfortable position facing a window.
- Observe what you see outside and how the sunlight shines in the evening this time of year.
- Simply observe the sights and feel your breath flowing in and out for several minutes.
- After you feel calmer, with eyes closed, review your day.
- Without pressure to remember every detail or the exact order of things, allow yourself to remember what you did. Start with what it felt like to wake up. If you cannot remember, that is all right. Notice if you can remember what you had for breakfast.
- As memories of the day come up, notice how you felt. Feel free to skip around with memories, if they do not come in order.
- Acknowledge the feelings you felt. Give yourself time to be with feelings in case they were not resolved earlier.
- Welcome the feeling, be with it, and notice the sensations that accompany the feelings.
- Do not get attached to the feeling, simply notice and allow it to flow through you.
- Repeat this as you think about your entire day, holding yourself in deep compassion and love.
- At the end, take a deep inhale and exhale, then slowly head into the rest of the evening.
The point of this is not to check things off a list. The point is to allow yourself time to process all that happened and to help you deal with emotions and experiences that could feel more heated this time of year. After you process the emotions, you will cool off, sleep better, and feel more at peace.
Use Time Off for a Staycation
If you have a job, plan to take some vacation days in the summer that are not planned full of to-dos and sightseeing. A staycation can be the perfect way to calm down. To do this, schedule the time off so that when those dates arrive you can see what you feel like doing day by day.
Maybe you will have energy for day trips or maybe you will want to spend time relaxing in ways you have not made time for in the past. Think back to when you chose the location where you live; you probably did so with intention. So what can you do to enjoy local events, hikes, or spa days? Enjoy the local sights and experiences.
If you live alone, perhaps there are new recipes you have been wanting to try, or you have been meaning to rearrange your space. If you live with family, perhaps you all have been wanting to do something together that you never had the time and energy for. Letting the days unfold without a plan can help you relax at this time of year and get back to the simplest of joys, make space for naps, and have more meaningful conversations.
If taking time off doesn’t work for you in the summer, then use this time to plan when you will be taking time off. It is essential for your mental well-being to take days off.
Make Time for Good Friends
Family time is very important, and so is friendship-time. Our friends are our chosen family, and we have found them for a reason. Make time to connect with them on the phone, on zoom, or in person if that is possible. Even though people have busy schedules, if you can set aside a good hour or two for a real catch up with a dear friend, it can offer support and ease.
To beat the heat of summer, of tense relationships, or of deadlines at work, catching up with a dear friend can be the refreshment you need.
Beating the heat is not always about cool treats like popsicles and lemonade. It is also about taking care of our mental well-being by balancing activity with downtime, productivity with rest, and intensity with restorative practices.
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