Posted in D.I.Y's and Advice, mental health

Gear up for a healthy summer

Take a breath: in, then out. Then repeat. Imagine yourself running- maybe you’re in a lavender field that fills you with the sweet, refreshing and flowery yet relaxing scent of the purple flower; maybe you are running up and down the salty sea at the beach,  wet sand between your toes. Imagine bliss: a sun-filled sky, a soft breeze that makes your hair flow back over your shoulders and the sun warms your skin without causing you to break a sweat.

It’s perfect. And if you haven’t figured it out already, yes, I’m talking about summer.

Whether or not your ideal summer day looks like mine, we both know that sometimes, we can’t enjoy the summer days the way we wish to. But I think we can also agree that one of the reasons we all love summer because it presents a great opportunity to excuse yourself from your ever-busy life to relax, even if it’s just for a few days. For me, this means taking time to be reflective about my last academic year, and using my three months of freedom to learn something new, work on taking care of myself and get myself refreshed and ready for the next academic year.

But, as a university student, the summer also means time to chase down opportunities I don’t necessarily have time for during the academic year. This means that I need to find time to relax while still being on the go. Luckily, I’ve been able to discover a few easy tricks to help myself relax even while I’m busy. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Set Goals for yourself

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Summer time is great for trying all of those things that you wanted to do during the rest of the year, but that you just didn’t have time for. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds or maybe just change your eating habits; maybe you want to get your hair done, or write a book, or travel somewhere you’ve never been before. Doing any of these things, or even all of them, is possible. But what is required is good and thorough planning.

This means you need to spend a good chunk of time brainstorming. Ask yourself: how are you going to reach your ultimate goal? What are things that you have doubts about? Where and when are you going to need help and who can you ask?

The trick to getting anything done is to work towards it gradually and efficiently. Maybe this means that you won’t get the results you desire as quickly as you want, but remember that it also means you are taking less of a gamble at your chance at receiving your results. This is one of the toughest trade-offs for those of us who are trying to lose weight. It’s tempting to go to extremes and try liquid diets or no sugar diets, but remember that once you quit these diets. the weight comes back.

So, don’t risk it. Plan to make small and gradual changes, and work your way towards your goal instead of trying to jump hoops for it.

2.Get off the computer and find a book

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As a student who is used to carrying around her laptop all the time, this was one of the hardest things for me to do. Using a laptop at university is great for getting work done on the go, but it also presents more opportunities for distraction than you might think. Like for me, having my laptop allowed me to stay on campus and get my work done before going back to my dorm early in the day, but it also allowed me to waste time in online shopping more often than I should have, or waste time that I could be using to work in watching YouTube videos or shows on Netflix. What were the results of this decision? My wallet was empty and unhappy, and I was stressed because I had both wasted work time, and my eyes were strained after staring at the computer screen for hours on end. 

I have discovered a way around this, however, and the summer is a great time to see if this little trick works for you too.

Get off your computer, and leave it at home. Ask your friends for book recommendations, and pick one that sounds interesting to you. If not a story book, find a magazine, a non-fiction informational text, a puzzle or joke book; any printed text that you can get your hands on will suffice. When you get bored or tired throughout the day, spend 10-20 minutes reading instead of staring at your computer screen. Get absorbed in it, and ignore everything else for that time. If it works for you like it did for me, you will find yourself feeling much more relaxed. Your eyes will be less stressed, you might lose that migraine you always get after being on your computer for so long, and you will find yourself wasting much less time and, in my case, money.

3. Find a favorite place to take walks

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Maybe you are working an office job during the summer, and this doesn’t leave you a lot of time to work out, maybe not even to just move around. A great way to combat this lack of exercise time is to find a place near your work and home that is perfect to take a walk once or twice in the day. Leave your phone in the office, and spend 10-15 minutes just with yourself. Close your eyes if you need to, or talk to yourself if that is what it takes to make you feel relaxed again. Or you don’t feel like walking around, just visit a place, preferably outside, and take some time to yourself.

4. Eat healthy

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Summer brings plenty of excuses to stuff our faces into large bowls of ice cream, chow down popsicles, drink dainty berry-flavored lemonades, or, when we are in the mood for it, sip those delicious, tropically-flavored margaritas and mimosas. As someone who who has a huge sweet tooth, I know how difficult it can be to not give in to these temptations. And to be honest, eating healthy in the summer doesn’t mean that you should give up on sweet temptation. Give in to it if you must, but make healthy choices when you do. Replace that large bowl of ice cream with home-made sorbet, made from summer fruits and berries like watermelon, strawberries, lemons and lime, and sweetened with natural sugars, like honey or agave or maple syrup. Eat healthier fats, like avocado. Research some vegan recipes that might work for you. Goodful from Buzzfeed is great for finding recipes like this.

5. Make new memories with old friends

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Take time to see those loved ones you might not have gotten a chance to meet throughout the rest of the year. Thinking about old memories and making new ones is a great way to get yourself feeling more rejuvenated this summer.


Takeaway

Stay balanced

balance

Although you might be busy, it is really important to stay balanced. You are just a person, after all, and you deserve time to do all of the things you love and be with the people you enjoy spending time with. Getting healthy in the summer isn’t just about learning to take better care about your body, it’s about taking care of yourself, meaning all parts of you- it’s about making piece with your physical, mental and emotional states and getting ready to face bigger challenges, no matter what they might be.

Author:

I am an undergraduate student, I am an aspiring psychology and global health research professional, and I'm devoted to spreading the message that Mindset Matters.

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