Summer is often a time for serious play, time off and deep relaxation. Many of us use the summertime to rebuild our reserves for the rest of the busy year. In our work-crazed society we can lose sight of the benefits of slowing down and taking time to rest. Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to enjoy the restorative powers of reconnecting to your body through movement and relaxation.
Summer is a unique time of year when we can do both our relaxation and our movement out in nature. Take a nap in a hammock and enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. Go to the park and meditate or read under a favorite tree. One of the greatest places to rest in the summertime is by the water. There is something magical and restorative in water, and we naturally crave to be near it, by it or in it. Heading to the water, whether it is the beach, a lake, or a kiddie pool, can be relaxing and rejuvenating.
Just as much as the body loves to relax, the body loves to move. Even though our body is most healthy when it is getting appropriate physical activity, we often feel dread and boredom when we hear the word “exercise.”
Think for a moment of what type of movement you would consider fun, as opposed to torturous. Perhaps you loathe the idea of a gym, but miss taking dance classes. Maybe you secretly want to try yoga or rollerblading. You could play touch football with your kids, walk with a neighbor in the mornings or go for a swim. The summer offers so many choices – it’s simply up to you to choose which style of movement excites you. Your heart will thank you, your soul will be gratified, your limbs will be more fluid and you’ll sleep better at night.
Whether you are relaxing, exercising, or both, notice that being outside in nature has a profound way of quieting the mind and reconnecting us to ourselves. Often this relaxation and peace of mind are what our bodies crave the most. So while summer is with us, strap on your sandals and enjoy to the fullest the rich elements of sun, wind and water and the nourishment that they bring.
Food Focus: Water
Most of us are aware of the importance of drinking enough water. Getting our daily requirement of water helps our organs perform their functions, keeps our skin clear and hydrated, and allows physical action in our bodies to flow smoothly. Even with this knowledge, it can still be challenging to drink all the water our bodies deserve daily. In the summer, when we tend to play hard, sweat, and spend prolonged time in the sun, drinking plenty of water is critical. Those who are not drinking enough may experience poor digestion, sluggish thinking, skin breakouts, headaches, bad breath and general fatigue.
To start your day right, set a large glass of water by your bed each night and drink it when you wake up. When the first thing that flows through your body each morning is water, it pulls out toxins left over from the previous day and freshens your system for the day ahead. Keep a bottle of water accessible throughout the day, whether you are on the go or at a desk. Having one close by will remind you to take a sip when thirsty. The first sip will usually let you know how much more water you need.
A sip or two of water may be enough, or you may need a big glass. If you drink most of your daily water before early evening, you most likely will not be thirsty before bed. This is good, because drinking before bed and then waking to use the bathroom disturbs your peaceful night’s sleep.
What about quality? Some people like bottled water, while others prefer filtered water. The key is to like the taste of the water you are drinking, and the water should agree with your body. If the taste of plain water is unappealing, experiment to see how you can make it tasty and drinkable. Try adding a few mint leaves, a wedge of lemon, a sprig of parsley, slices of cucumber, a twist of lime or a squeeze of orange to make water more tempting, or to jazz up your routine. Also, drinking tea or juice and eating raw fruits and vegetables contribute to the hydration process. So, splash in the waves, swim in the sun, drink plenty of water and enjoy the summer fun!
Recipes of the Month
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 24 hours
Yield: 2 liters
3-4 tea bags of your choice
1. Fill an extra-large mason jar with water, add 3 or 4 of your favorite tea bags, and cover with lid.
2. Place in sun for one full day and let the shining rays pour in heat and energy, bringing out the wonderful tea flavors.
3. Sweeten if so desired with natural sweetener, serve room temperature or cold over ice.
Note: Garnish with mint leaves or lemon wedge.
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 24 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 pound fresh ginger root
2 quarts of water
juice of 2 limes
maple syrup or agave nectar to taste
1. Thinly peel the fresh ginger, grate and mix with water in a large saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Cover the pan, turn off the heat and leave for 24 hours.
3. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
4. Add the lime juice and maple syrup or agave. Stir until dissolved. Serve chilled.