Summer is almost here! The days are longer, the weather is warmer and our moods are lifting. There is a palpable surge of energy here in the NW after our long, wet and dark winter (and spring, this year). We can hardly help ourselves when the sun finally comes out and the temperatures start to rise. You'll find us furiously planting our gardens, BBQing all the things, and making plans with everyone we haven't seen for months despite the fact that we live less than a mile apart. Summer feels like a re-birth... but if we aren't mindful, it can also be exhausting.
Summer season has a inherent elevated energy. The changes in nature invite us to get out and get moving, but if we don't balance the naturally occurring high energy of summer with consciously created chill energy, we are guaranteed to burn out by August. We'll enter fall season exhausted and prone to sickness, lethargy and major let-down.
Here are some tips for enjoying all the summer things and avoiding the inevitable burn out.
1. Prioritize your summer fun. Take moment to consider what do love about summer? What stands out as making this season extra sweet? Maybe its your annual Fourth of July plans with family or that beach trip you took with your friends. Maybe it was picking berries with your kids last summer or eating dinner outside. Take a moment to reflect on the summer activities that bring you joy and then rank them from most important to less important. By doing this you'll get clear about how you want this summer to go down. If you see that you value leisurely dinners at home, you'll prioritize them and then be less likely to over commit to evening activities out of the house. Reflection brings consciousness into the present moment. By doing so, you'll increase the odds that you're doing exactly what you want to be doing this summer versus running around doing all the things that come your way.
2. Pace yourself. Stop right now and take a look at the month ahead. What do you have planned? How much unscheduled or down time is there? Is what you've committed to doable, given your current work load and family responsibilities? Be honest with yourself. Now, take a look at your summer priorities from Step 1. Do they match up with your current calendar? If not, clear some space or schedule in some down time.
3. Anticipate the week ahead. On Sundays, stop and look at the week ahead. How does your (or your family) schedule look? Does it seem doable given your current energy level and mood? Maybe three weeks ago you thought this would be a good week to tear out the front yard or attend that three-day music festival, but now that its here, you realize you don't have the energy. If it is still a priority based on your reflection in step 1, you'll need to create some space in your schedule this week for down time. Pencil in some early bedtimes, go in to work late one day or postpone that meeting or playdate. That way you'll have what it takes when it comes time to do what you love.
4. Wind down daily. So you've prioritized your summer activities and you're adjusting your schedule each week to assure you have energy for the things you love, now it's time to focus on giving your mind, body and spirit daily respite. (If you are a parent, this is crucial for your kids, too.) Consider the Ayurvedic wisdom of daily rhythms. Between 6pm-10pm is known as kapha time - the time of day that is naturally more mellow, reflective and relaxing. During summer, we tend to ignore this naturally occurring down time and instead embark on a second shift of socializing or yard work or other stimulating activity. While some physical activity after dinner is advisable (think light house work or a walk), engaging in mental, emotional or overly physical activity is not recommended. Doing so can be too stimulating resulting in missing nature's cue to wind down and relax. Begin to see 6pm to bedtime as down time. Consider a walk after dinner, doing some yoga or stretching, reading outside in the hammock, or taking a bath or shower. Make it a habit to wind down daily and you'll avoid burn out.
5. Be here now. This last step will require you to slow down. Right now, stop what you are doing, , shut your eyes and take a deep breath. Make it a habit to be present in the moment. Doing so will help you encode in your body and your mind all the sweetness of summer. You can engage your senses help you with this. Whenever you remember, let your eyes take in the beauty of the sky, the people around you, the colors of the food on your plate. Eat slower so you can enjoy each bite of your favorite summer foods. Stop and smell the roses or the neighbor's BBQ. Listen to the birds, the sounds of children playing, your favorite summer tunes. Let your spirit absorb where you are in this very moment. You'll find that when you do this, you need less activity and less stimulation to truly enjoy your summer.