It’s that time of year — it’s a million degrees outside (or at least it is here in sunny North Carolina, my home sweet home), the bumblebees are everywhere, and it seems like the beach or the mountains are the place to be. But while you’re reveling in the flip flops and fruity beverages, it can be easy to let a lot of time slip by without much to show for it. These last couple of summers, I’ve really taken ownership of my time and goals and at the end of the season had a lot more to show for my three months than a golden tan (which seems out of reach for me due to my partial Irish heritage, alas). I’ve also put my head together with some friends who are college students, starting their careers, or focusing on family, to hear their input. Check out this collection of wisdom on how to put your dog days to the best use!
Let’s start off with one that isn’t too hard to work around vacations and beach trips. Pick up some high quality literature from days of yore, a how-to guide on something you’ve always wanted to try, a biography of someone you admire, a newspaper, anything! (And of course, don’t forget to make time for your quiet time with the Word during the sunny season.) I personally have found that I feel much sharper and also more relaxed when I do a little reading on most days, and if Teddy Roosevelt could make time for reading an entire book every day while he was President of the United States, we can work in a chapter or two of Pride and Prejudice or Horticulture for Dummies.
This is targeted more at you college ladies out there. It’s pretty common for students to not work during the summer, although many do, and I highly recommend doing so. I’ve been working year-round since my sophomore year of high school, and this made a huge impact on me in several ways. Not only did it help me pay for college, I learned a lot of soft skills (customer service, team work, etc.) and self-discipline. Plus, those beach trips don’t pay for themselves!
While you’re getting caught up in trying to find some relaxation and respite from the school year, plus maybe work a job or internship and see all your friends and do all the other things on this list (haha), it can be tough to make time for others. But you’ll really thank yourself later if you do. It’s important to make time to focus on others, but it doesn’t need to be any specific way. Maybe you’re volunteering at a specific time at a soup kitchen every weekend, or maybe you just make yourself available to help an elderly neighbor with something around their house, or watch a friend’s toddler while they run errands. Just make sure to do something for someone else — you’ll feel better, they’ll feel loved, and the world will be a tiny bit brighter.
#4: Do a project
The summer is an ideal time for this for a lot of people because they’re home from college or grad school or there is a lull in their business (at my job, news is slower in the summer when schools are out, for instance). Maybe the summer isn’t as free for you, maybe you’re out of town a lot, so summer might not be the best for you personally. If at all possible, though, do something creative and challenging over the summer. Something new and fun and non-pressured but developmental. Are you a spreadsheet geek? Learn to knit! Are you an interpretive dance major with a minor in culinary arts? Code a simple website! Whatever it is, pick something you can do on your own time as a fun project to learn and develop a skill in an unstructured environment. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a lifelong hobby or a side business, but worst case scenario, you’ll have a funny story and a rudimentary knowledge of something new. (Hint: my project is this blog, and although it’s not summer only, it’s a similar idea. I’m doing something I have no idea how to do in the hopes of learning and adding a little something to the creative mojo of this crazy world.)
#5: Work out
You’re beautiful just the way you are and you’re already rocking that swimsuit — but at the same time, the summer is a good time to be investing in your physical health. The perfect beach bods are for tabloids, but why not take advantage of a time of year when the farmers markets and product stands are loaded with delicious local foods that are wholesome and nutritious, the parks are in full bloom, and there’s a 5K every weekend? Or, if you’re a regular exerciser already, use the summer as a time to introduce some novelty into your fitness routine! I ran cross country and track in high school, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I discovered how much fun mud runs can be, and they combine the health benefits of running with a super fun event that’s beginner-friendly but can be as challenging as you want it to be.
#6: Schedule relaxation
It’s self care 101 that you need to make time for yourself to engage in low-key activity, or maybe no activity, every now and then to de-pressurize. I’ve found that it doesn’t have to be much — just getting up 15 minutes earlier to sip a cup of tea on the porch before work or taking 20 minutes to paint my nails after battling 5 o’clock traffic does wonders for my sanity.
Hopefully these little tips were of some use to you. Comment below and let me know your advice for maximizing those brief summer months!
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