Healthy Living

The Summer of You: 10 Ways to Upgrade Your Routine for Summer

Written by JOSIE SANTI
summer self-care"
summer self-care
Source: @aerie
Source: @aerie

You always want to prioritize your well-being, but self-care is not as easy in the summer as it is in other seasons when you have nothing to do cooped up indoors except get a good night’s sleep, put on a face mask, and read your favorite self-improvement book. In the summer, cold beer, hot dogs, and ice cream often replace balanced meals, and rooftop bars, weekend road trips, and barbecues are constantly calling your name. And then there’s the insecurities that can come with being in a bathing suit or shorts, or Instagram feeds full of beach days and dreamy European vacations that make us feel like we’re missing out. Between the busier social schedule, being out of our healthy routines, and the pressure to make this season “perfect,” it’s not exactly setting you up to feel your best.

But during summer, you likely also crave fresh foods, have optimal energy, and feel happier. Instead of years past, you can use this summer to fall more in love with your body, cultivate more joy in your life, and improve your health rather than hurt it. Make this the summer you put yourself first–your best glow-up yet. Here are 10 ways to upgrade your routine to make the most of this season.

1. Summer-ify your workouts

If you’re stuck in a rut because you take the same 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 something new because you have more energy and motivation: take a soft workout class, ask a friend to join, or try a new type of workout routine (such as the 4-2-1 method). 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.

2. Make your own summer vacations

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 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 summer Fridays, utilize your PTO, or be intentional about how you want to spend your weekends to bring you more joy instead of getting stuck in a rut. If all else fails, give yourself a “mini-vacation” every day by doing something from this list of ways to romanticize the summer 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, or 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, doesn’t an organized closet make you so happy!?). 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, adding a colorful print or two to the wall, or adding these details to make your home look like its straight out of an early-2000s rom-com. Minor changes like fresh flowers in vases or citrus oil in a diffuser can also make all the difference. 

4. Eat what’s in season

While you may crave hearty dishes and warm meals in wintertime, you’re more likely to crave lighter, fresher foods come summer. Healthy eating is easier when the weather is warm: Your body wants lighter foods, herbs are in season, and vegetables on the grill suddenly sound as good as pizza delivery. 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 

Imagine this: It’s the middle of summer 2024. You’ve got an effortless glow that rivals J.Lo’s, and the disturbing amount of sweat and SPF on your skin at all times doesn’t even break you out. If that sounds too good to be true, know that you can score a killer tan without the harmful rays of the sun (thank you, self-tanning products!). And just because you’re loading up on SPF or sweating more does not mean you have to suffer through acne. Your skin just needs different things in the summer than it does in the winter, so update your skincare routine accordingly. Include exfoliating acids to slough off dead skin, use cooling tools to de-puff and calm inflammation, and make sure you have proper sun care.

6. Take advantage of longer days

You know that days are longer during the summer, but have you ever thought about changing your daily or weekly routine to make the most of those long days? Longer days mean more sunlight and more sunlight means more energy (waking up at 7 a.m. when it’s already light out is way different from waking up to a dark, cold 7 a.m. that still feels like nighttime). Is there a habit or hobby you’ve been wanting to take up, like getting back into reading or seeing if you have a knack for pickleball? Take full advantage of the extra energy by waking up early to hone your new activity or for some extra “me” time. And when it comes to staying lighter later, bring your post-work routine outdoors, whether that means eating dinner on your balcony or taking a brisk walk instead of opting for your desk treadmill

7. Take tech breaks

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, like no phone use for an hour before you go to bed and after you wake up. During that time, 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 fully enjoy the screen-free time. If you want more of a challenge, consider going on a social media break for an entire week, limiting social media to one half-hour block a day, or doing a dopamine detox.

8. Work your way up to 10,000 steps a day

“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, just doing more of what you know makes your body feel good. One of the best parts of summer is that going by foot to your destination is not only more plausible, but it’s also pleasant. Cue up your favorite summer playlist or a new podcast (ahem The Everygirl Podcast), and build up to logging 10,000 steps a day (or whatever number goal you want to set that feels best for you).

9. Grow your own produce

I’ve always wanted to be like Martha Stewart or Ina Garten. And then I grew up and realized that an apartment in a big city is not conducive to that romanticized lifestyle. But whether you live in a studio apartment or have a large yard, you can grow your own produce–and summer is the perfect time to start. Let’s talk about why: Growing produce is healthier for youbetter for the Earth, and easier on your wallet, and it just feels empowering to be able to whip up a pesto sauce with basil you planted or grew on your balcony. If you’re in an apartment or don’t have space outdoors, you can also grow fresh herbs on a windowsill or with a smart garden. If you have a yard and the space, start with easy-to-grow summer produce basics like tomatoes and lettuce.

10. Remember that social connectedness is self-care

Social connection is not only an important puzzle piece to achieving happiness, optimal brain health, and longevity, but it’s also a crucial part of self-care that we often overlook. I‘m too familiar with the internal debate over whether to skip beach days or alfresco dinners with friends because you’re feeling insecure or getting stressed because every item on the menu is sure to make you bloated. But we need to have strong relationships (and foster them regularly) for our well-being. Laughing with friends is truly better for your health than green juice, and happy memories (positively) impact your life way more and way longer than any harm a salty margarita ever could do. Yes, always take good care of your body, but this summer, prioritize taking care of your relationships too.