Summer is synonymous with happiness. How can you not be happy basking in the sunshine, relaxing on the beach, celebrating with a cookout, playing with your kids or lounging poolside? And while it all sounds heavenly, sometimes summer is spent figuring out how to entertain the kiddos from dawn to dusk so they don’t drive you wacko.
If you really want a happy, healthy summer—one where you can bask in its long days without the kids driving you crazy—try these nine tips. (We recommend reading this in your hammock.)
1. Plan “me” time
When life gets crazy, (when is it not?) the first thing that usually goes to the wayside is time just for you. Take turns with your spouse and make dates with yourself. Watch the kiddos while your spouse gets a little solitude, and then let your spouse give you that precious time, too. Hang out in a coffee shop, read a good book, meditate, take a long bike ride or catch an afternoon matinee—do something that allows you to think, reflect, relax or just unplug.
2. Make healthy eating fun
Browse farmers markets and get some gorgeous seasonal produce. Teach your kids about the health benefits of real foods by experimenting with clean-eating recipes to make delicious, colorful meals and snacks.
3. Fill your calendar with joy
You can have a lot of control and influence over how happy your summer is if you proactively plan weekends with your absolute favorite things to do, like hosting a cookout for your street, planning a weekend getaway or scheduling an outdoor adventure. Not only do you get the joy that comes from anticipation, but you also get a fun experience and a wonderful memory! (It’s a trio of happiness.)
4. Investigate your favorite exercise
The key to exercising regularly isn’t about finding the time—it’s about finding an exercise you love. Because if you love it, you will do it. Summer is the ideal time to try out some new activities. Paddle-boarding anyone? Golf? (Skip the cart.) Take your kids on a family hike. Sign up to jog your first 5K. Go in search of an exercise to fall in love with, and you just might get hooked.
5. Remind yourself why sleep is wonderful
Make your bedroom a place of serenity and calm by cleaning out any clutter that could be clogging you mentally. Get your favorite sheets and comforter. Open a window if it’s cool enough for gentle breezes. Fully embrace sleep as one of life’s great pleasures.
6. Know what recharges you
When you’re feeling run down and frazzled, what restores you? What fills you up? Make a list of the top three activities that replenish your mind and body and then carve out time to do them. You’ll love life more when you feel full and mentally clear, instead of frazzled and depleted.
7. Seek a change of scenery
Go on a vacation, drive to your neighboring town or just try a new restaurant. Changing up your normal environment can be uplifting and offer a new perspective.
8. Keep a journal
Journaling helps with self-awareness, mental clarity and preserving memories, but keep the right journal for you. It could be a one-sentence journal about your day or maybe a travel journal where you record your summer adventures. You may even consider keeping a gratitude journal, where you jot down what you appreciate about your day. If it’s more your speed, use your journal to doodle or brainstorm your next big idea.
9. Go deeper with conversation
If you’re having a dinner party, as you set the table, think about how you’d like to direct the conversation with your guests. Sometimes, with a little planning, you can cultivate meaningful conversations instead of surface chitchat. Bonus tip: Don’t start cleaning up when people are done eating, as that signals everyone that dinner is over. Sit and just enjoy your conversations—it’s good for your health and longevity!
Make this your best summer yet by aligning it closer to what you value most. Happiness will follow.
Sandra Bienkowski worked as the national columns editor for SUCCESS magazine for three years, and is widely published in print and on the web. See more about Sandra at The Media Concierge.