While we know summer self-care is important, self-care is not always as easy in summer as in other seasons when everyone is also cooped up at home (and no one’s posting envy-worthy road trip pics). During warmer months, if you don’t live at a beach, crush intense workouts regularly, or go on dreamy vacations every weekend, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out. I like to call it FOMOOAPS: fear of missing out on a perfect summer (maybe a stretch?). But focusing on what you’re not doing is taking away from what you should be doing: caring for yourself. Screw the FOMO, and instead, make this the summer you put yourself first. Here are 10 ways to upgrade your routine to make the most of the season:
1. Switch up your workouts
If you’re stuck in a rut because you take the same online workout class every day, summer is your solution. Consider taking your HIIT circuits or yoga flow outdoors: bring your mat and sun salutations to the park, or go for a walk instead of running on the treadmill. Summer is also a great time to try a workout you’ve never done before: go for a hike, try an outdoor class, ask a friend to join, or try an online class that’s totally new. Bonus: thanks to the longer days, warmer weather, and brighter sunlight, we often have the most energy in the summertime, so take advantage and up the intensity: go for a high-energy dance class if you’re usually a relaxing flow kind of girl, or train for the marathon you’ve always wanted to run. Just don’t forget your SPF!
2. Make your own summer vacations
Ah, remember childhood (or High School Musical 2) when summer was synonymous with vacation? Summer break meant no school from June to August and weeks of pool trips and popsicles ahead of you. Even if we’re grown-ups now (womp, womp) and don’t get a summer break from work (but like, isn’t that a great idea!?), you can still apply the same mentality. Summer serves as the perfect reminder that work should be a part of your life, not your entire life. Take advantage of your PTO, whether that means taking a long weekend to go on a road trip with your friends or a mental health day here and there to sleep in, get outside, and enjoy your life. And if all else fails, turn every weekend into a mini-vacation (or staycation) to make the most of the season (and your life!).
3. “Summer clean” your house
Why should spring cleaning have all the fun? Let me introduce you to summer cleaning (AKA turning your home into the warm-weather oasis you deserve). Since clutter in the home translates into clutter in the mind, having an organized, clean, and happy home will help you enjoy the warmer months and boost your mood (I mean, how happy does an organized closet make you!?). Spend a day organizing your junk drawer, donating clothes you don’t wear, and optimizing the space in your kitchen. But “summer cleaning” doesn’t just have to be the tedious stuff: update your decor for a happier season by trading darker home accents with more colorful accessories, add a colorful print or two to the wall, and make minor upgrades with of-the-moment trends you’re obsessing over on Instagram to brighten up your home. Also, minor changes like fresh flowers in vases or citrus oil in a diffuser can make all the difference.
4. Eat fresher foods
While you may crave hearty dishes and warming meals in wintertime, you’re more likely to crave fresher foods come summer. Healthy eating is easy when the weather is warm: your body wants lighter foods, herbs are in season, and vegetables on the grill suddenly sound as good as pasta or pizza. Take advantage of grocery stores full of produce in their prime (think: juicy tomatoes, fresh strawberries, and sweet corn), base grocery lists and recipes around the many delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season, and snack on crispy bell peppers or delicious watermelon. Also, make an effort to add more water-rich foods to your diet for bonus hydration points, like watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, and tomatoes.
5. Update your skincare for the season
Imagine this: it’s the middle of summer 2021. Even after a year spent indoors, your skin has never looked better. You’ve got an effortless glow that even the lifeguards envy, and the disturbing amount of sweat and SPF on your skin at all times doesn’t even break you out. If it sounds too good to be true, know that you can score a killer tan without the harmful rays of the sun (thank you, fake tanning products!), and just because you’re loading up on SPF or sweating during outdoor workouts does not mean you need to break out. Your skin just needs different things in the summer than it does in the winter, so update your routine accordingly. Include exfoliating acids to slough off dead skin, use cooling tools to de-puff and calm down inflammation, make sure you have proper sun-care, and, if you’re looking to fake tan, opt for a high-quality faux glow for the summer skin of your dreams.
6. Take advantage of longer hours
So you know that days are longer during the summer, but have you ever thought about changing your daily routine to make the most of those long days? Longer days mean more sunlight, and more sunlight means more energy (think about it: waking up at 7 a.m. when it’s already light out is way different than waking up to a dark, cold 7 a.m. that still feels like nighttime, right?). Take full advantage of the extra energy by waking up early for a workout or even just adding 30 minutes to your morning routine for some extra you-time (the earliest sunrise of the season is on June 14th, FYI). And when it comes to staying lighter later, bring your post-work routine outdoors, whether that means eating dinner on your balcony or going on a run instead of opting for the treadmill.
7. Go tech-free
One of the best parts of summer is that there is so much to do that’s not watching TV or staring at your computer screen (winter, I love you, but you forced me into some major Netflix black holes). Commit to going tech-free for at least a couple of hours every week, or even a small amount of time every day. Go on a hike, read a book, or spend time with friends sans Instagram posting. No matter how you choose to spend your tech-free time, put down your phone, close your laptop, and turn off the TV to enjoy the screen-free time. If you want more of a challenge, consider going on a social media break for an entire week or limiting social media to one half-hour block a day (I know, it feels impossible to spend less than 30 minutes on one Tik Tok scroll).
8. Walk everywhere
“Fitness” doesn’t have to mean intense, exhausting, hour-long workouts; instead, it just means simply moving as much as possible and living less sedentarily. True self-care is not about pushing yourself to the limit or reaching exhaustion, but rather about just doing more of what you know makes your body feel good. One of the best parts of summer is that walking everywhere is not only possible, but it’s pleasant. Cue up your favorite summer playlist or a new podcast episode and vow to walk everywhere (at least) within a one-mile radius (bonus: it’s better for the planet). For farther destinations, get creative about your transportation. For example, walk to the further train stop to get in some extra steps or try bike riding for a quicker method that’s still active.
9. Grow your own produce
Even if you don’t think your thumb is green, the summer season is the ideal time to start growing herbs or vegetables (you can do it, I promise). Let’s talk about why: growing produce is healthier for you, better for the earth, easier on your wallet, and it just feels empowering to be able to whip up a pesto with basil from a pot outside, you know? Just call me Martha Stewart! If you have a yard and the space, start with basics like tomatoes and lettuce (easy-to-grow summer produce). Get a gardening toolset, a watering can (that will look pretty sitting out for easy access), some outdoor planters, and get to work. If you’re in an apartment or don’t have space outdoors, grow fresh herbs on a windowsill or with a smart garden.
10. Remember that social health is self-care
Community care is not only one of the top wellness trends of 2021, but it’s also a crucial part of self-care that we often overlook. 2020 proved that having strong relationships (and enjoying them regularly) is not only something we want, but something we need. I’ve been there: the temptation to skip beach days with friends because you’re feeling insecure or getting stressed about dinner plans because every item on the menu will make you bloated. Personally, I’m done prioritizing insecurities. Instead, I’m going to remember that laughing with friends is truly better for my health than a green juice, and happy memories affect me way longer than a salty margarita ever could. Yes, I will always take care of my body, but this summer, taking care of my relationships will be just as important.