While you’ve likely been fed a fib that summertime is a “relaxing” period, that is not the case for most people. You might feel your stress levels rising as the kids are out of school for three months and around 24/7, you’re traveling on family vacations, you’re wearing fewer clothes, or you’re sweating bullets just walking from your home to the car.
Karla Ivankovich, PhD, a clinical counselor at OnePatient Global Health in Chicago, calls summertime “go-time,” not downtime. She says plenty of people and their families maintain a packed schedule, leaving little alone time to refuel tired bodies, skin and healthy routines. Don’t let all the stress get to your sense of well-being; carve out time for summer self-care with these tips.
Get yourself a great new outfit (or swimsuit). Social media, magazines and outlandish societal ideals of beauty have made it historically difficult for women to maintain a positive body image. Thankfully, things are finally changing. “We now recognize the varied beauty of the body, no matter its type,” says Ivankovich. “Be proud of and spend some time admiring the assets you were given.”
But that doesn’t mean you’re not prone to the occasional bothered moment, especially in the summer when you’re wearing less and pulling out clothes from a year ago that may fit differently. “If clothes make or break how you feel, consider purchasing a few new outfits that make you feel amazing; purchase the swimsuit that looks great on right now, this season,” says Ivankovich. “Make sure the clothing you buy does something for your ego as well as your wardrobe.”
Explore your own city. It’s amazing how many people don’t visit destinations within their own city, even if they really would love to explore them. Maybe it’s a great nature preserve, park, lake or hiking trail, or a museum, famous bookstore, or off-the-beaten-path ice cream joint. “We forget how important it is to be a tourist in your own town,” says Ivankovich.
While you probably often “go out” about your town with others, taking their preferences into account, Ivankovich says to do some research or simply “be on the lookout” for something you would like to do all on your own. “What you are really looking for is a location that is serene,” she says. “One that makes you feel alive.” Make an afternoon of it. You decide where.
Socialize effortlessly. The older you get, the less you probably want to make an event about socialization; it’s better to preserve your energy and keep social time stress-free. Kill two birds with one stone; mindlessly multitask folding laundry and drying dishes while calling your best friend. Ivankovich often does four or five-way calls with her friends, while everyone is doing chores.
“It’s difficult today to get time for yourself,” she says. “Every moment you spend on yourself, there is an equal amount of tasks beckoning. Fulfilling both friend time and chore time is a way to give you the relief, and make the mundane and even annoying tasks, more tolerable.” Not to mention… you can have a girls’ night in sweatpants from the comfort of your own home.
Relax about the chores. Tons of people prioritize dusting and vacuuming over rest. This summer, try delaying the chores. “If you have small children, summertime can be exhausting,” says Ivankovich. “Consider letting the laundry sit until after your child—and you—have taken a nap break. When a toddler or young child has naptime, many parents use this as a way to spring into action; when you are already running on negative energy, what you really need to do is nap.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a quick 20- or 40-minute nap can increase productivity and improve performance anyway. So, get some Zzz’s.
Go for a walk. Exercise is crucial for self-care and feeling your best. Even if it feels like you need a gym to get there, you don’t; just 30 minutes of walking around five days a week is great for your heart and lowering disease risk.
“If what you are really missing is some serious alone time, go out for a walk in the morning or evening—when it’s cool,” says Ivankovich. “Low impact walking offers incredible benefits, and can assist in toning up the body and releasing stress.” Research shows exercise provides tons of mental health benefits, as well, like reducing anxiety, depression and low mood, while increasing self-esteem and brain function.
Carve out time for a beauty routine. Yes, work up a sweat—but make sure you take care of your skin in the process! “While summer can be exciting, nothing feels worse than being hot and miserable; spending time in a sauna can be a good thing, but perspiration is not always great for people with sensitive skin,” says Ivankovich. “Consider taking some time to pamper yourself with an at-home facial.” Cooling face masks are widely available in most cosmetic departments or online, or easy to make at home, and may reduce any skin inflammation from the heat. They also feel so soothing.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.