As the warmer, relaxing months of summer approach, many people find themselves reflecting on whether or not they are “swimsuit ready.” They may be unhappy with their personal physique following a winter of hibernation and eating in front of the television. Unfortunately, few people do a personal analysis of themselves internally.
For high school students with the summer off, university students with a break, or even an adult with vacation time, the summer can be an opportunity for unprecedented personal growth and change. Imagine if you began to see your free time as more than simply plopping down in front of the television.
Included here are 8 ways to improve yourself during your summer break.
8 Ways to Improve Yourself Over the Summer
Grow a Garden
With the recent focus on being physically healthy and earth-friendly, starting a garden could be the perfect way to get involved in both. Gardening provides excellent exercise, and most gardeners estimate they spend roughly 5 hours in the yard each week. All of that raking, digging, bending, and pulling can work wonders for strengthening your back, arms and legs.
Aside from exercise, growing a garden can be marvelous for your internal health. Mass-produced produce is often pesticide-laden and lacking in nutrition, but homegrown produce is often grown in nutrient-rich soil and not treated with chemicals. With many experts arguing that the mass agricultural movement is bad for the planet, and individuals being encouraged to grow their own food, it may be time for you to jump on the bandwagon.
Read a Book
Ah, yes…good old-fashioned paper books. Remember those? With a whopping 24% of Americans failing to even crack a spine (or play an audiobook or power up a Kindle) within the last year, it’s clear that other entertainment options may be competing for our attention. Clearly, education and time play a part in our “book worminess,” but failing to read has serious ramifications for the individual.
The brain is a muscle, and like other muscles in the body, requires frequent exercise to stay in shape. Experts believe that regular reading can help stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Not to mention, reading allows your brain to develop better short-term memory, as well as stretch your imagination. Reading has long been understood as a great stress reducer; far better than glazing over in front of the television.
One of the greatest ways to grow as an individual is to give back to your community through volunteering. Find something you are passionate about, whether it’s low-income finance advice or troubled youth, and begin volunteering. You’ll gain a sense of fulfillment from your daily work unmatched by paid employment.
Additionally, volunteering can allow you to grow your group of friends and acquaintances, broadening your circle and worldview. For people who are feeling unattached or unable to connect after moving to a new town, getting involved with a great group of volunteers may do the trick!
Learn a New Language
In many new studies, children who fluently speak two languages at home may have an academic advantage in some situations. How does this work? Well, to speak fluently in two languages, your brain must constantly work to interpret the meaning of the words spoken. No sentence or phrase is taken for granted, because your brain is actually being exercised to understand it.
Similar to the discussion of book reading, learning a new language could help you prevent, or slow, the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Additionally, learning a new language can expose you to different cultures and processes of thinking that you have not formerly known. Learning a new language is a great accomplishment, and could easily begin during your summer break.
Take a Tech Break
Recent studies have shown that releasing yourself from technology for a few days can help you “reset” and sharpen your problem-solving skills. In a recent analysis of people who took a 4-day backpacking trip with no electronic devices, researchers saw a significant improvement in their creative-thinking and problem-solving skills.
If you don’t think you can manage four days without your phone, start out with a simple day of solitude. The initial idea behind a day of solitude is to refresh your brain and take stock of your heart and mental state. You should eliminate all tech devices and preferably put yourself in nature, where you are removed from modern advertising and distractions.
For many people, the idea of being alone, genuinely alone, for even one hour is terrifying. This shows a terrible state of internal affairs for most individuals. To maintain mental, physical and emotional health, genuine solitude should be sought on a regular basis, giving you time to reflect and replenish. After you finish your day of solitude, you may crave another, and by the end of the summer, you could work up to a week-long backpacking trip.
Start an Exercise Routine
Now, in terms of exercise, forget about being “beach ready” and just try to make yourself feel good. Exercise releases endorphins and can make you more emotionally balanced. Consider implementing an exercise routine that you maintain for at least one month. The rule of thumb is that it takes 30 days to form a habit, so try to stick to it for that long before quitting.
If cardio still isn’t your jam, try another form of exercise that you find enjoyable. For instance, if the day of solitude was pleasant, you may enjoy the relaxing benefits of yoga. Yoga works to stretch and strengthen your body through gradual movements. Additionally, low-impact sports like swimming can get you fit without feeling like a grueling workout.
Assess Your Attitude
Those summer months can bring bouts of sunshine-induced happiness, but they also could bring out competitive spirits and negativity. One way to spend your summer bettering yourself could be through assessing your own attitude. For example, try to spend 24 hours without complaining. If you make a complaint or negative comment, your 24 hours must start over.
As you become more aware of what you spend time talking and thinking about, you may realize how beneficial positive thinking can be for you. Additionally, take stock of how you feel about your friends. Are you rooting for them to succeed? Or are you rejoicing when they fail? Your positivity towards them will be reflected back to you and could change your mindset and interactions.
Overcome a Fear
Yes, overcoming a fear is good for you, and yes, everybody has at least one. You may be crazy confident at work, but terrified of your mother. Or you may find yourself fearless in physical activities but have no idea how to talk to the opposite sex. Take time this summer to recognize a fear and overcome it.
Overcoming a fear can help you feel more bold in your personal life and help you gain confidence. Take your fears on one step at a time and don’t force yourself into a dangerous situation. If you are afraid of meeting new people, ask friends to introduce you to someone; then have that person introduce you to someone else. As you extend further outside your circle, you will be talking to veritable strangers and conquering your fear!