Summer’s finally here – at least where I live! It evokes childhood memories of long, lazy, light days; freedom from schedules; outdoor explorations, and holiday adventures.
Yet in adult life it’s easy to lose that summer feeling: Holidays are shorter, work doesn’t stop, families still need to be looked after, and commitments don’t go away.
So read on for my Simple Summer Ideas – there’s about 43 in this post – for getting into and keeping up that summer feeling!
I rode my bicycle through a flooded riverside path today. The water submerged my sandaled feet, and splashed onto my skirt. But I didn’t care: It’s summer. It’s sunny. Sandals and skirt will dry quickly in the warm breeze. And I enjoyed the coolness of the river water on my skin.
This is what the summer brings for me: A welcomed chance to re-connect with that childhood memories of “school’s-out-for-summer”. Long, lazy, light days, freedom from schedules, playful outdoor explorations, summer holiday adventures…
Sadly, I find we can easily lose that summer feeling in adult life: Holidays are shorter, work doesn’t stop, families still need to be looked after, and commitments don’t go away.
Yet, while in summer the sun is at its strongest, and nature’s growth at its most exuberant, there’s also this sense of slowing, stopping, breathing, and simply being. Not for nothing do schools (and many businesses) take a break.
And now even research proves that sunshine and warmth lower our productivity and motivation for work, as we’re feeling the pull to be outside. Our attention, energy, and critical thinking also diminish. It’s as if our brains ‘wilt’ in the summer – the warmer it is, the more.
On the other hand, our perceived life satisfaction is never as high as in the summer. It seems that summer is indeed the happiest season – and meant to be enjoyed!
So, whether you’re just back from holidays, staying put, or feeling overwhelmed by a busy life despite the good weather: If you’re struggling to get into that summer feeling, here are some ideas – I think they’re about 43 🙂 – to help you connect with it, and make the most of your summer!
Disconnect and do nothing. At least for a bit.
Consciously disconnect from work or other obligations – at least for some of your time: Keep your evenings free. Take an afternoon off, or plan a long week-end away on overtime accumulated at work. And in that time, stay away from computer, email and smartphone.
This can be a bit of a challenge, as the many things we ‘need’ to get done tug at our mental strings. If that happens to you: Just make a decision to let them be for now. Allow yourself to slow down. Calming and centering practices like walking, yoga, deep breathing, or meditating can help here.
Then discover the pleasures of a leisurely pace, or doing nothing at all:
Potter about the house or the garden – in the early morning or late at night. Leave home earlier in the morning, and walk part of your journey to work – slowly. Take a nap during the hottest time of the day – I have a friend who used to do that in her lunch break at work – lying down on a yoga mat under her desk! Or sit in a cafe and watch the world go by.
Again you have the the blessing of research in doing this. It shows that giving our brains a rest from our fast-paced modern lives is crucial for our health:
Clearing out unnecessary ‘noise’ and mental clutter, it strengthens our memory, encourages creativity, and improves decision-making. And when we do return to work, we find our focus, attention and motivation restored, and our productivity and satisfaction boosted.
So: Favour aimless, unfocused activities: Daydreaming, pottering about house and garden, watching your children play, or the river flow by.
Let your senses feast.
No time like summer to do that – enjoy the outdoors! Take in the explosion of colours in nature. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Catch those summer night scents of jasmine and pine. Savour the fresh foods on offer – make a point of trying flavours you’ve never tasted before.
Water in every shape or form is particularly enjoyable when summer is hot: Imagine ice cubes. Cool drinks. Listening to the water on a beach, lake or river shore. (Even just the sound of trickling water will make you feel cool.) Or, even better – dipping your hands or feet in it, splashing yourself with it, surfing on it, sailing or rowing on it, swimming in it! Standing under a waterfall – carefully, of course. And don’t forget the pleasure of getting caught in a warm summer shower… Or purposely going out for a run when it rains!
If you have to work, enjoy your breakfast in the garden, or by an open window every day. Write that presentation sitting at a café table outside. Have that business conversation or phone call while walking in a park.
And make the most of the long, light hours: Take an evening walk or cycle ride, or have a leisurely al fresco dinner (barbecue, picnic) with friends and family.
So: Favour activities that connect you to nature. Dance under the sky – during the day or in the night. Sing on your roof terrace. Take photographs. Swim in natural waters. Gaze at the stars. And let your senses drink in every bit of the experience!
Play, have fun
Find your own ways into what gives you a sense of fun and adventure:
Take a day trip to a place you’ve never been to before. Be a tourist in your own town. Romance your partner – or, if you’re single, have a summer flirt (be safe, of course!). Grill veggies or sausages over a campfire. Invent new games to play with your children. Learn something you’ve never done before. Build a tree house, or string up a hammock. Play board or card games. And by all means take that river-rafting or mountain climbing trip, if that is your cup of tea!
So: Favour activities you enjoy, which involve a bit of risk and excitement. Let yourself be completely and happily absorbed!
And some added benefits of all this
Creating space and time to enjoy summer in these ways will not only help you tap into that (perhaps lost) summer feeling. It will also help you progress anything you’ve been stuck on, or unhappy with in your life:
You’ll gain perspective and see things more clearly. You’ll be able to take stock and reflect on your life, or things you’ve struggled with. And you might find creative ways forward when you least expect it. Not necessarily by working things through systematically, but by letting them mature.
That’s just what nature does in summer, anyway!
Wishing you a brilliant summer!
Oh – and if you want to share your ideas for a perfect summer, I’d love to read them in the comments below!
Photos: Monica Castenetto (1-4) and Pixabay (4)