Summer is finally here. The days are longer, the sun is warmer, and the activities available are exploding. It's easy to get overwhelmed or neglect our wellness in the burst of activity, so here's NASM's summer back-to-basics wellness guide from a Certified Wellness Coach.
1. Go for Early Morning Walks
We all know movement is an important part of our well-being, but it can be easy to over-prioritize higher-intensity activities. Walking is a great way to increase sensitivity to positive-emotion hormones like serotonin. What you might not know is that early morning exposure to natural light regulates the circadian clock, which can improve sleep. Take advantage of long summer days by going for a brisk, 20-minute walk within 1 hour of waking. For an added boost, invite a friend or family member along.
2. Savor Fresh Produce
Whether it's from your garden or the local farmer's market, summer is a great time to reduce your vegetable consumption. With the added benefit of lowering your ecological footprint, you can buy locally and cut down on plastic packaging as well as the effects of shipping produce from far-off places.
To expand your wellness impact, explore in-season favorites you haven't previously tried or locally foraged, native options available at the farmer's market. If you’re not sure how to prepare them, you can the person running the stall at the market or give it a quick Google search. The novelty of trying something new is another way to boost emotional well-being and satisfaction.
3. Add Electrolytes to Your Water
Most of us know the importance of hydration. Even slight dehydration results in a decrease in athletic and cognitive performance and significant dehydration can be dangerous to your health. What's sometimes missed in the hydration conversation is the balance of electrolytes.
Hyponatremia, or low electrolytes, can happen when we drink a lot of water while also sweating or peeing out the body's salts. That effect is compounded in hot, dry weather. Electrolytes include not only sodium but also potassium, magnesium, phosphate, and chloride. To up your electrolytes you can add a pinch of sea salt or a squeeze of lemon to your water or use an electrolyte supplement like a bicarbonate tablet which is easily available at the store or online.
4. Play Outside
Summer comes with an opportunity to spend more time outdoors which benefits wellbeing; to enhance your outdoor wellness boost, embrace playfulness. Adult playfulness has been linked to improved stress coping, greater well-being, and enhanced relationships.
To get more playfulness into your life consider playful physical activities like lawn games or recreational sports teams. You might also try adult playfulness workshops. Remember that playing can mean different things to different people. Physical activities like cycling and swimming appeal to some, while others might enjoy bird watching or even reading a book in a hammock.
According to the National Institute for Play, many adults become self-conscious or self-critical when they attempt to enter a state of playfulness. Learning to give yourself permission to be playful can be an important first step.
5. Remember Your Sunscreen
Sunscreen is another ubiquitous bit of summer advice that bears repeating since it's easily neglected. Unfortunately, in the last few years, some non-evidence-based advice has questioned the health benefits of sunscreen as a wellness practice.
However, the scientific evidence on the benefits of sunscreen as a cancer prevention tool is very clear. To avoid the long-term consequences of skin damage, remember not only to start your day with sunscreen, but re-apply every two hours.
If you have concerns about chemical sunscreen's effects on your health or the environmental damage to marine life, mineral-based options are just as effective in preventing skin damage and reducing cancer risk.
While many of us are excited about summer, it often comes with busy schedules, extra chores, and a lot to juggle on your schedule. Remember, wellness doesn't have to be overwhelming or just another thing you must do. Often the most effective wellness strategies are the most enjoyable ones and even simple strategies can be effective.
Want to help others make simple changes that bring lasting wellness into their lives? View NASM's Certified Wellness Coach course to learn more!