Let’s face it, complaining about the great British summer might be the nation’s favourite pastime – particularly when the weather isn’t playing ball! But for many of us, summer is still the highlight of our calendars.

The sun (theoretically) shines brighter for longer, flowers are in full bloom, and summer sports such as cricket and tennis are in full swing.

Saying that, there can also be some stress points. Sorting out school holiday childcare, planning and packing for holidays, disturbed sleep when the temperature rises – all of these can dampen down our joy in the sunnier season.

That’s why summer is a great time to check in with your health and well-being. Just a few tweaks to your routine can get you back in the holiday mood. Here are our top 6 self-care recommendations to support you to feel great all summer long.

1. Get into nature and (safely) soak up the light

The benefits of spending time outside when it’s sunny are well documented. Human skin naturally produces vitamin D in the sun’s ultraviolet-B (UVB) presence. Vitamin D helps us retain calcium and phosphorus, control infections and reduces inflammation.

Even when the weather is unpredictable, spending more time outside in natural light makes our circadian rhythm healthier and more aligned. The circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioural processes that follow a 24-hour cycle. One of the easiest ways to regulate your circadian rhythm is to manage your exposure to light.

Having access to more sunlight during the day (while limiting your exposure to artificial light at night, such as phones or TV screens) can make a world of difference, not only to your happiness but also to the quality of your sleep, focus, concentration, and memory.

Always apply appropriate sunscreen to minimise the risk of skin cancer and stay
hydrated in the sun.

2. Make time for fun

“All work and no play …….” – we all know how the old adage goes. Playtime is integral to our wellbeing. There are so many benefits to introducing time to play, and when better than in summer?

Playtime is said to help manage stress levels as it releases endorphins (happy hormones), improves brain function, boosts long-term energy levels, and improves relationships due to the side effects of empathy, compassion, and trust.

Playtime for children also teaches them the value of teamwork and cooperation, and enhances their social skills. It’s also a great way to bond with friends and family.

How about a big family game of cricket, twister, or Uno with friends? Even playing fetch with your dog counts as play! So enjoy, guilt-free.

3. Protect your body image

During the summer, your social media will likely be rife with hashtags such as “Beach
Body” and “Hot Girl Summer.” These trends can unwillingly be triggering for many of us, and start to damage our body confidence. It’s so easy to get caught up in how we think we “should” look during a particular time of year. There are some things you can do to avoid slipping into this negative and unhealthy mindset, such as:

  • Limiting your time on social media. Summer is the perfect time to prioritise face-to-face socialising. Fight the urge to sink into your phone at dinner; why not try the phone stacking game, where everyone places their phone face down on the table, and whoever picks their phone up first pays for dinner (or does the washing up).
  • Blocking the hashtags. On Instagram, you can tap “Not Interested” on a
    particular post, then select “Don’t Show For This Hashtag” or “Don’t Suggest”
    posts with certain words. If you can’t avoid social media, you can curate the
    content you view.

4. Learn to say no

Make sure you are taking enough time for yourself. The temptation in summer is to overindulge and say yes to every invitation you get for parties, barbecues, picnics, and concerts – but this can quickly lead to burnout.

For many people, having an overactive social calendar can feel so overwhelming that it starts to feel unenjoyable and stressful. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say no.

Sometimes it can help to decide how many social events you would like to say yes to per week or month – and once you are booked, set the intention to take some ‘me time’ as well.

5. Show your body plenty of love

It goes without saying that the best thing you can do for your body in the heat of peak summer is hydrate, ideally 2-3 litres per day; but did you know that certain foods are healthy and can also cool and reduce body temperature?

These foods include but are not limited to:
Green leafy vegetables
Avocado
Mint leaves
Yoghurt

Exercise is also known to boost mood and comes with various health benefits, but follow our tips for exercising in hot weather to avoid headaches and dehydration. If you want to stay cool, just before sunrise or after sunset can be a beautiful time for gentle exercise.

6. Practise mindfulness

Stop to smell the flowers – literally! Take time to hear the birds singing, to enjoy the sun’s glow on your face (or, being realistic, maybe some cooling rain) and the breeze on your skin. Allow yourself to soak up some mindful moments!.

It can be as simple as having a conversation with a friend with no phones – maybe even a spa afternoon – or savouring each and every mouthful of an ice cream. Focusing on the present moment can have such a huge benefit both physically and mentally – reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, even lowering blood pressure, and improving sleep.

Having a summer of mindful moments – what a beautiful gift to give yourself!

Boost your mood even more with our feel-good summer workout playlist.

Words by Carlie Barlow