It’s mid-year, and that means only one thing: it’s summer time.
Summer is a time to slow down, to disconnect, to spend more time in nature and mindfulness is the perfect companion for that. Mindfulness also helps you soaking in those summer vibes and savouring every moment. Moreover, it increases your joy, memory, peace and it decreases levels of stress, burnout and even depression.
This summer, whether you are on a holiday or not, try to include some mindfulness into your days. You’ll notice how slowing down improves your wellbeing and how you’ll be able to enjoy more and worry less.
Mindfulness is all about being present in this moment, being non-judgemental, compassionate and taking it slow. So don’t force yourself or worry too much about doing it right, because then, you’re missing the point. Remember kindness is a key component of mindfulness: kindness to others, but to start with: yourself!
Here are some easy and effortless ways to incorporate mindfulness into your sweet summer days:
1. Create a summer routine
What I’ve loved during this summer so far, is having my go-to new summer routine. Routines & rituals change throughout the seasons, depending on what season you are in – depending on your inner weather.
Maybe your summer routine is spending some time staring at the blue sky, sipping your coffee in the morning, taking your time to prepare breakfast and do a meditation or read a few pages. Or, maybe your routine involves some morning stretches and a freshly made smoothie.
How to create your routine
Ask yourself: what do you need in the morning, noon and/or evening? How can you honour yourself and nourish your mind, body and soul throughout the day? When are you willing and able to make time for you? Write a list of things you love to do to take care of yourself, or that might help you wake up, or fall asleep, and then slowly, incorporate them into your day.
How my routine looks like
My routine looks like this: a morning meditation, followed by my skin care routine, a morning coffee and a nourishing breakfast with fresh fruits. In the afternoon, I do my second meditation of the day, just before dinner time, to let go of the day and start fresh. Then, in the evening, I do some gentle, relaxing stretches and I fall asleep to… yes, you guessed it, a sleeping meditation! This routine nourishes me and it feels so good to honour myself three times a day.
2. Slow down
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: slow. down. Relax. Unclench your jaw, your eyebrows, relax your belly. You’re okay.
Nature does not hurry and yet everything is accomplished. Notice the difference between hurrying or rushing through your day versus taking the time.
I love to compare it with a hotel breakfast. Everyone loves a hotel breakfast, right? You wake up, get ready, go to the restaurant and a lovely buffet awaits you. You sit down, have your breakfast, enjoy the morning and it feels so good. Why? Because you take your time and prioritise having breakfast. You don’t multitask, you solo task. And that’s practising mindfulness, too.
How to slow down
Whether you’re on vacation or not, try to slow down just a little bit. You can do this by taking a break, taking some deep breaths (we tend to hold our breath when we’re too focus or rushing) or even do some stretches. Or simply, witness. You don’t have to do so much all the time. It’s okay to just be.
The benefits of doing nothing
The act of doing nothing has proven to be beneficial for our health, especially for our brain. It eliminates distractions and boosts your creativity. That’s why you have those brilliant ideas in the shower, during a meditation or right before going to bed: it’s a time and place where all the distractions fade away and you “empty.” your mind.
I love to describe journalling as: moving thoughts rom your mind onto paper. It allows you to let go of things, but also to get more clarity. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, unsure or like my mind is foggy, I do a free-flow session (writing down everything that comes into my mind) for about 15 minutes and I feel much better.
The benefits of journalling
Journalling has a lot of benefits, ranging from improving your mood, to helping you recognise patterns, set goals, identify negative thoughts, and increase positive self-talk.
If I were to ask you: who is the person you talk to the most? You would probably answer: a spouse, parent, sibling, friend,… but actually, it’s you. You are the person you talk the most with – in your mind.
Journalling brings you closer to yourself. It’s like having a conversation with yourself, as you often do in your mind, but only on paper. This allows you to receive more clarity and awareness about what’s on your mind.
What to journal about
Journalling can look like writing down how your day was, writing down 10 things you are grateful for (highly recommend doing this in the morning or whenever you feel a bit off) or writing down what you want to achieve, do or feel on the day/week/month (setting an intention).
If you are on a trip, you can document and savour the highlights by journalling about them. It will make you feel more appreciative about it, as you reflect back on them, your gratitude levels increase, which increase your “happiness hormones“! You can also write a love letter to yourself, saying how much you love and appreciate yourself, to get through summer blues after a trip or at any given time you feel a bit challenged.
4. Use your senses
To bring yourself back into this very moment, try this exercise:
name 5 things you can see
name 4 things you can feel
name 3 things you can hear
name 2 things you can smell
name 1 thing you can taste
Your senses bring you right back into this moment. And that leads you right to a moment of innerpeace. It is sometimes challenging to describe mindfulness, so I encourage you to use your senses next time you are drinking, eating, walking, listening, or during any time of the day you remember to be mindful.
You will notice it automatically calms you mind, as you only focus on what you’re sensing in that moment. There is no space for thinking about the future or the past. And, as numerous studies have proven, time spent in the present moment is time spent in a calm, peaceful and happy state.
How a vacation makes you happier
What does this have to do with vacation? Novelty (experience something new) has proven to increase your brain health. Being in a new environment, our brain automatically takes in all this new information – a new scenery, environment, culture, maybe a few words in a new language -, allowing us to learn new things, which our brains absolutely love.