While we know summer self-care is important, self-care is not always as easy in the summer as it is in other seasons when everyone is cooped up indoors (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 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 a totally new type of workout (the 3-2-8 method, anyone?). 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 for a road trip with 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, adding a colorful print or two to the wall, or jumping on the grandmillennial trend to brighten up your home (we’re talking floral throw pillows, rattan sconces, an antique-inspired accent mirror). Minor changes like fresh flowers in vases or citrus oil in a diffuser can also make all the difference.
4. Eat fresher foods
While you may crave hearty dishes and warm 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
Imagine this: It’s the middle of summer 2023. 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 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 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
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 from waking up to a dark, cold 7 a.m. that still feels like nighttime). 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 “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. 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 fully 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.
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, just doing more of what you know makes your body feel good. One of the best parts of summer is that going by foot everywhere is not only more plausible, but it’s also pleasant. Cue up your favorite summer playlist or a new podcast, 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 farther 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 you have a green thumb, 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, and easier on your wallet, and it just feels empowering to be able to whip up a pesto sauce with basil from a pot on your balcony. If you have a yard and the space, start with basics like tomatoes and lettuce (easy-to-grow summer produce). 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
PSA: Social connection is not only an important puzzle piece to achieving happiness and optimal brain health, but it’s also a crucial part of self-care that we often overlook. 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. But having strong relationships (and enjoying them regularly) is something we want and something we need. Instead, remember that laughing with friends is truly better for your health than a green juice, and happy memories affect you way longer than a salty margarita ever could. Yes, you can always take care of your body, but this summer, prioritize taking care of your relationships too.