Summertime is a period of possibilities. The days are longer, the nights are warmer, and the opportunities seem endless. Getting prepared for the summer season’s usually heavily influenced by diet culture and the belief that there’s an ideal summer body. But what if we reframed our mindset about how we want to prepare for another change in season? What could that look like through the lens of holistic health?
1. Switch up your fitness routine
Summer is a great time to switch up your fitness routine. Outdoor HIIT workouts, pool days, yoga classes in the park, and after-dinner family walks take advantage of the warm weather and late sunsets. Whether you prefer early morning or late-evening workouts to beat the heat, taking advantage of the summer weather is the perfect excuse to get outdoors.
2. Keep hydrated
The sun can dehydrate you faster than you realize. On average, you should drink around 13 cups, or three liters, of water per day; if you’re outdoors, that amount should increase to around four liters. Getting enough water isn’t limited to drinking, either. Roughly 20% of your daily fluid intake comes from the food you eat, so focus on hydrating foods this summer.
3. Protect your skin
Every sunburn you get – especially when it’s a blistering sunburn – increases the risk of developing melanoma. Wearing, at minimum, SPF 15 sunscreen and reapplying it often, along with wearing protective clothing – like sunglasses, hats, and long-sleeve sun-protective shirts – can help prevent both sunburn and its dangerous long-term effects.
4. Get outdoors
Switching up your fitness routine to include more time outdoors is great, but spending time in nature is also good for your mental health: The extra sunshine can help increase serotonin, one of the “happy hormones.” Higher serotonin levels are linked to improved mood and lowered anxiety. Soaking up the summer sun’s extended hours can also help people with depression, especially those suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression related to changes in season.
5. Make a summer bucket list
Get excited about the possibilities that summer holds. Visualizing all the activities you’ll get to enjoy and the experiences you’ll have can help keep you motivated to make summer memorable.
6. Begin to unwind
Summer provides the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind. Stress can wreak havoc on your body, affecting mental and physical health in long-lasting ways. Spending time in nice weather, away from the stresses of day-to-day life, and participating in events and activities that are possible only in summer offer a break from routine.
7. Get together with friends
Summer is the perfect time to reconnect with friends and use your PTO to make memories. Friendships are a powerful thing, and as adults, we tend to get busy and put our friendships on the back burner. But having friends we can cry with, laugh with, listen to, and share our lives with can change our overall health. At Integrative Nutrition, relationships are one area of primary food – the things that feed our soul outside of the foods we eat. When our primary food is fulfilling, we can live healthier, happier lives.
8. Embrace yourself
Summer is a time of heightened insecurity for lots of people; more skin is showing, the weather is warmer, and crowds are larger. But remember this – the only way to have a “beach body” is to have a body and head to the beach.
9. Walk barefoot
Summer brings lush grass and warm sands that are perfect for practicing grounding. Grounding is the practice of connecting with Earth by standing barefoot on the ground. “This intimate connection between Mother Earth and your skin is said to manage pain, lower blood pressure, and strengthen the immune system,” explains wellness coach and IIN Grad Billy Woodmansee.
In the Kitchen
10. Load up on produce
Many more plants are in season in the summer, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. Eating seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables isn’t just better for the environment; it can be better for your wallet ‒ and tastier, too.
11. Eat the rainbow
Not only do colorful fruits and vegetables look beautiful on your plate, but they’re also important for getting diverse sources of fiber! If you're eating the rainbow, you’re treating yourself to a varied group of nutrients that all play vital roles for your health. Greens, for instance, contain detoxifying properties, while orange-colored foods contain free radical‒fighting carotenoids.
The Bottom Line
As the showers of spring fade into hazy, humid days, try not to stress about preparing for the summer. This season is full of opportunities to make lasting memories with friends, eat great food, and have adventures.