For many of us, this summer is looking a lot different than what we expected or what we had originally planned for. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the most of the warmer days and longer nights—it just means we have to get a little more creative.
While keeping in mind that social distancing is still recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s a lot we can do solo or with a small group. Here are a few tips of how to make the most of your summer:
Go on a hike or walk. Whether it’s visiting your local park or going on a hike nearby, getting outside can significantly improve your summer and overall mood. It’s something you can do solo to have a more peaceful, quiet, and relaxing environment or go with a friend or family member. Remember to always follow your local regulations regarding six feet, especially if you’re going with someone you don’t live with.
“It is believed that being in nature lowers activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is involved with having repetitive negative thoughts,” says Dr. Jason Strauss, MD, Director, Inpatient Adult and Geriatric Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance. “Being in a nature setting also lowers levels of the hormone cortisol, which is increased when one has stress and/or depression.”
Try that new recipe. You don’t need to have guests to whip up something new in the kitchen. Turn on some music and try cooking that recipe you’ve been eyeing.
Work on a DIY project. If possible, put a few hours aside on your Saturday afternoon to be proactive. Start an easy DIY project, update your CV, or work on anything you’ve started and put off finishing. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment on whatever amount of work you get done and be able to go about your weekend having already completed a task.
Go camping. Going camping is one of the best ways to get your nature fix this summer. Whether you take a solo trip or go with a group, you can easily make a full and wholesome weekend out of it.
Exercise outdoors. To get out of the house, try working out outside as much as possible. The fresh air paired with getting your heart pumping will give your endorphins a good boost. “Being outside for even 20-30 minutes daily for three or four days per week can be enough to boost your mood,” says Dr. Strauss.
Running, walking, or biking are just a few of the exercises you can do outdoors. You can also ask a friend or family member to play a game of tennis, volleyball, or basketball to get your sweat on.
Barbecue outside. Seize your summer Sunday’s by safely hosting barbecues. Invite over some friends or family members to eat outside, but be sure to keep the group to the CDC-recommended 10 people or less.
Break out the board games. Binge-watching TV can get old—so If you haven’t yet, dust off your old board games and get the whole family involved.
Gardening. Whether you have a green or black thumb, anyone can take up gardening. Start small, with a few plants and see what happens. It’s a skill that takes practice, patience, and vigilance—and it’s something you can keep up with long after summer.
Explore your backyard. Although many of us have had to cancel flights, postpone and/or cancel vacation plans, we should take this opportunity to explore our own backyards. This doesn’t just mean hanging out behind your house. Look up things to do within your city or town, and explore different parts that you don’t normally spend time in.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. 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.