Finding Your Summer Balance
By Ann Brand, PhD
Here we are in the thick of summer. Lazy days, late nights, and a pull to slow down and enjoy the extended hours of light. It is challenging to find balance when our summer schedules are unpredictable. If we are parents, our attention shifts to our kids and their summer activities. Every week is different, so it is hard to get into a good pattern. Maybe our workout buddy is on vacation, and our exercise routine disappears. And all the summer fun can lead to over-indulgence, not eating regular meals, and staying up too late. Self-care goes out the window as we seem to have less time to set aside for ourselves. Here are a few tips to support you in finding some balance this summer through practicing mindfulness:
Cut yourself some slack. Keeping a routine this time of year is difficult, and our summer days will not look like the rest of the year, but that is okay. Maybe you don’t exercise on that week of vacation with the family, or you partake of an extra slice of blueberry pie on July 4th. Bring some self-compassion to summer’s unpredictability. Allow yourself to deviate from your norm. Wisconsin summer is short and we must enjoy it while it is here.
Remind yourself of your intentions. Even if you are not as routine in the summer, you can still schedule in self-care. Summer presents all kinds of unique opportunities so get creative and take advantage of the beauty and bounty of the Chippewa Valley. Intentions are great at reminding us we can start over. When you have that extra piece of pie, instead of beating yourself up, remember you can start over the next day with a trip to a farmers market for fresh vegetables.
Awareness is key. When we are paying attention, we have more choice. We can choose when to deviate from our usual routine and indulge. We can choose when to align with our intentions and restrain. Knowing our habits and patterns gives us the wisdom to be intentional about how we spend our summer days. Paying attention to our experience supports us in cultivating this awareness and bringing it to our daily lives, scheduled or unscheduled.
Engaging in a regular mindfulness practice cultivates awareness and supports us in bringing this awareness to everything we do. Mindfulness helps us see our experience more clearly, so we can make skillful choices, even when our schedule is unpredictable. Even just five minutes a day of mindful breathing can support us in our intention to pay attention. We can do mindful breathing anytime, anywhere, no matter how much our schedule changes from day to day. And if you miss a day? Just start over tomorrow with the next summer day.
Ann Brand, Ph.D is an instructor at UW-Stout and a mindfulness meditation teacher. For more information about mindfulness, contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org