Enjoy the Summer With These Non-Food Related Activities
By Dana Rademacher, intern at The Emily Program
"Rest isn't idleness. To lie outside in summer listening to water murmur, or watching clouds float, is hardly a waste of time. – J. Lubbock"
Ah, summer, you are finally here! As the dog days of summer are fast approaching, people start taking more vacations, going to the beach, and spending as much time relaxing with loved ones as possible. Unfortunately, the summertime isn't a fun and relaxing season for all, especially when you are struggling with an eating disorder or another mental illness such as depression or anxiety. It can be filled with a perceived pressure to have the busiest, most exciting summer ever, with added pressure to look "perfect" or "bikini ready." These types of pressure aren't beneficial for anyone. To help combat these summer stressors, here are a few non-food related ideas to help you relax and have more summer fun!
Spend some quality time with nature:
The summer isn't only the time for the beach or the pool; it's also the perfect time to go check out less-intimidating and relaxing sceneries, like the woods, or the mountains. Take a few friends and go camping for a weekend or even just do a hiking day trip at a state park with your family. I have found that nothing helps me relax or feel more in touch with myself than by spending an afternoon or a weekend surrounded by nature and good company.
If you live in the city like me, and find it harder to get out of town to experience nature, find a walking or hiking trail near your neighborhood! Even taking a short walk once a week outside can greatly improve your mood and make you feel more connected to this earth.
You could also try other nature related activities that might be totally new for you, like disc golf or geocaching. It can be exciting to try a new activity, and if you can do it in the great outdoors, then all the better!
Volunteer with a local nonprofit:
Is there a local cause or organization that you deeply care about? Why not start volunteering with them this summer! Volunteering with a local organization will not only make a positive impact on your community, but it will also give you a sense of connectedness to others, while simultaneously working on a project you are passionate about. Plus, volunteering can help us feel like we are doing more good for the world and who wouldn't want more of that?
Attend free local summer events:
In the summer, many cities will host a bunch of free or cheap events open to the public, which can be a fun way to take your mind off things without breaking the bank. For example, here in Minneapolis, "Music & Movies in the Park" is a popular event series in the summer where you can attend a free outdoor movie or concert almost every night of the week! It can be an interesting way to explore your town while also having a great time being outside in the city.
Do yoga in an out-of-the-ordinary space:
As you know, The Emily Program loves yoga and what better way to celebrate summer and renewal than by doing your favorite yoga poses in a fresh place! I particularly like doing yoga outside and while you may get a few odd stares in the park, it is worth it just to breathe in the relaxing fresh air. Also, many cities or local organizations will host outdoor yoga events throughout the summer so you could also check if there are any in your area!
If doing outdoor or public yoga sounds too intimidating for you, just try doing it in a new place in your home. If you always do yoga in your living room, try your backyard or even at your office! It can be exciting to mix up your routine a little, while still benefiting from the calming, healing properties of the practice.
Remember, summer is a time to slow down a little, spend more time with friends and family, and to finally catch our breath. It's not supposed to be filled with pressure or anxiety about fitting into a smaller dress size or looking "perfect" for the beach. You are perfect the way you are so go enjoy the weather and have a fantastic, peaceful summer!