Get your glow back and reset for summer with these self-care hacks
A little louder for the people in the back: We're declaring this the self-care summer you need.
Hello sunshine! Now that school’s out, it seems like the world is a bit brighter and you finally have the space to breathe again. Summer is the perfect time to reset, renew and recharge by polishing up the mini routines that make you your shiny, happy self.
Sprinkling in a few of these self-care faves each day will have a huge impact on your emotional and physical health. And that rare moment when you have an entire day free? Follow our hourly guide to a full-on glow-up.
BACK TO BREATHWORK
The thing about breathing is that it happens automatically, in the background, without you even being aware of it. But when you turn your attention to it, benefits abound.
Studies show that slower breathing (think: about six seconds per breath) can improve focus and cognition, help you fall asleep faster and decrease anxiety. And who couldn’t use that after this year?
Say, for example, you’ve been having a tough time getting to bed before midnight, so you reach for your phone to mindlessly scroll. Spoiler: This move won’t help make you sleepy or silence the noise in your head. Instead try some breathwork: Inhale for five counts, exhale for
five counts...and repeat. By using your body to get back in control of your mind, you can slow your heart rate, quell any anxious thoughts and reduce that mind-spinning feeling.
When was the last time you felt positively giddy? (Think back; we’ll wait.) While it’s been hard to find the LOLs lately, laughing is actually an important form of release—and it feels good! And, no joke, scientists want us to do more of it for our health.
When we laugh, those giggles kick off a physiological response that reduces the amount of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine circulating in our bloodstream. And, just like smiling, your body can’t really tell the difference between when laughter is real and when you’re faking it.
So have a laugh. Right now. (Just pretend something hilarious happened!) Notice how you feel. Then, purposefully incorporate more opportunities for hilarity into your every day: Watch The Office or choose a funny flick to screen on family movie night. Spend a lazy Sunday reading chuckle-worthy, old-school comics, like Calvin and Hobbes. Look up laughter yoga videos (it’s a thing!) on YouTube. Save screenshots of your favorite memes and flip back through them during the school year when you could really use a giggle. Seeking out those ROTFL occasions makes life feel lighter. (And, yes, Dad jokes count.)
FIND YOUR FLOW
You’ve been pulled in so many directions during the school year—from sports to extracurrics to homework to your social schedule. Add to that all those pesky device notifications, and your brain barely gets a break.
Enter: the flow state, where you’re fully immersed in whatever you’re doing. This means no school bells. No alarms. No to-do lists.
You’ve probably felt this flow before, when crafting, playing an instrument, dancing or doing another sport. It’s that elusive feeling when you’re so engaged in what you’re doing that time seems to vanish. You look up and two hours have breezily passed by. It’s the exact opposite of multi-tasking—and it can boost concentration, clarity and creativity.
To find your flow, Ishan Shivanand, a mindfulness expert and performance coach, recommends trying yoga, dance or martial arts. But you can also get your hands hooked into a craft, like knitting or weaving. Or dig out your watercolor palette. Or grab your ukulele. The key is removing distractions (turn off those notifications!) and asking your fam to give you some time to just play around. Then, try to engage your body and mind in that sole task— and nothing else.
SPEND TIME WITH TREES
There’s a reason why Folklore and Evermore resonated so deeply—being in the woods
is incredibly grounding. And studies show that the Japanese science of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) can reduce stress, ward off depression and fight fatigue.
Next time you go for a hike (shoot for one to two hours), turn off your phone and tune into your senses: What can you hear? What sights are you drawn to? What do you smell? Focus on what the ground feels like beneath you as you walk; what your steps sound like. You don’t need a plan—just follow your feet, then breathe in the benefits.
KEEP FAMILY DINNERS SACRED
Summer is the ideal time to get back into family dinners if you’ve fallen out of that habit during the school year. Yes, you’re all super busy bouncing around from camp to sports to babysitting, but finding those moments at the end of the day to show up for each other is powerful.
“Our most meaningful memories happen when we are interacting with the people we love,” shares Shivanand. “We typically mark big events with a fancy meal with our family, but how great would life be if every day during dinner we could celebrate our small achievements and successes?”
Make the dinner table a no-phone zone. Turn on some chill music, pick up a pack of TableTopics (or write your own on notecards) and whip them out for instant convo-starters if you dread the mundane “And how was your day?” energy.
Reframing dinnertime as a chance to unplug, eat and connect will have trickle-down effects on your mood and stress levels—and on everyone else’s, too.
JOURNAL FOR Y-O-U
You’ve seen the beautiful bullet journal inspo allll over Instagram, but you get stressed just trying to choose a pen color. Or maybe you started a gratitude journal last year...and couldn’t keep up with it. Hey, no judgment here.
To start (or restart) your journaling journey, think of it as a simple brain dump—just emptying thoughts on paper or tapping them out in the Notes app. You don’t have to keep up with it daily...or heck, even monthly. But having a dedicated space somewhere to write out your feelings can be therapeutic—and fun to look back on.
Rehashing that fight you had with your bestie? Write about it. Proud of a big step you took recently? Jot it down. Had the best day on vacation? Make short entries about what you did. Soon, your scribbles will become a habit lasting way past summer.
YOUR DREAM MENTAL GLOW-UP DAY
Grab your cal right now, bb.
7:30 a.m. Breathe
7:35 a.m. Stretch
7:45 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Hike with your sibs
12 p.m. Lunch
1 p.m. Crafting with a friend
3 p.m. Snack
3:30 p.m. Read outside
6 p.m. Dinner with your family
7:30 p.m. Watch a comedy
9:30 p.m. Journal
10 p.m. Bed
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our June/July 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.