Summer Days and Self Care

It's finally July! These are the days that we think of during the cold days of winter - at least here in Michigan. July - warm, sunny and lazy. Wait! It's not lazy for all of us. Although many people go on vacation during July there are many of us who continue working hard at our jobs and for our families. How do we find quiet or relaxation even when we wish we were on vacation but we are not? Following are a few suggestions to help us continue to be mindful, enjoy life and feel relaxed.

1. Go for a walk. The great thing about going for a walk is that it's free! You can make this as easy as you want and stroll through your neighborhood. You can make it a bit more exciting and find a path or a park and explore a new area. You can walk by yourself or you can ask a friend to join you. Walk with a child and explore bugs and stop to smell the flowers. Whichever you choose, make it something that you want to do for you.

2. Go for a bike ride or a run. Go kayaking or play kickball with your kids or with the children in the neighborhood. In other words, get physical. Combine it with being outside and you can get the benefit of nature and physical exercise.

3. Cultivate your garden. Water your flowers, weed the garden, and harvest your herbs or vegetables. Research has found that putting our hands in dirt gives a sense of well being. It can connect us with those around us.

4. Pamper yourself. If manicures are your thing - relax and get pampered. If a massage sounds good. Make that appointment to get the kinks worked out of your back. Pampering might mean something as simple as relaxing in a hammock. Whatever makes you feel pampered it is time to make that appointment!

5. Play music. Music has the power to change our mood. From the beat of rock and roll to the syncopation of jazz we can suddenly feel energized or feel calm and relaxed. Listening to music at home or at a concert can be as uplifting as playing your own music. Learn to play the piano or a guitar or even the drums. It feels good to learn something new.

6. Read a book for fun. Reading has the power to transport you to a new place. Find a good mystery or the newest book club book. Whatever you choose, make sure that you stretch out and relax in the shade or the sun while you enjoy.

Mindfulness is the act of being in the moment and doing things intentionally. Instead of worrying that summer is going too fast or passing us by it's important to engage in the activities that we enjoy and to live in the moment. Practice meditation and relaxation breathing in order to fully live in the moment and to focus. Making sure that we care for ourselves is an important component of allowing us the energy and desire to care for others. The lazy days of summer are ours whether we are away on a formal vacation or whether we make each day a vacation. ENJOY!

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