The solstice in June marks the beginning of summer. The longest day of the year in Canada sheds much needed daylight across this beautiful nation. Most of us reserve holidays for the summer months as winters are long and oftentimes dreary.

For therapists, the summer season is a wonderful time to re-evaluate health and wellness goals. The weather incentives more physical activities such as walking, gardening, hiking, and swimming. It is a great time to assess how well you have been doing to sustain scientifically supported activities proven to improve mood and overall health. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables also becomes easier during the summer months and early fall season.

Losing track of health and wellness goals is easy. Old habits are hard to break, and newer ones require mindful attentiveness to establish in sustainable ways. People are more likely to enjoy the outdoors during the milder weather. This renewed social activity offers you opportunities to practice “small-talk” with your neighbours that may in fact lead to recruiting members for a walking circle close to home. A walking circle is a group of neighbors committed to gentle and daily physical health and wellness exercises. Similar to runners, walkers meet up at an agreed upon time of day and devise a thirty to sixty minute trail together.

Unlike running groups, walking circles can accommodate the needs of most people, even individuals who have neglected physical exercise for some time. The outdoor weather also offers you excellent spaces to begin mindful meditation practices. Finding a relaxing spot to sit and breathe each day during your summer holidays is another excellent way to practice your wellness goals. Restorative spots in nature are abundant in campgrounds, along hiking trails, and on shorelines across the country. Even road trips can be interrupted with strategic mindful meditation spots along the way. Ten to thirty minutes of guided meditations will help you to begin to deactivate the negative impacts of stress on your body that accumulates over time in all of us.

The Mindshfit.CBT app offers a selection of brief guided meditations for beginners. Graduating to more sophisticated, longer or independent programs of meditation are also available for those with interests in mindful practices. Learning to activate diaphragmatic breathing during stressful events at work or home is the most effective strategy to control your normative biological stress response.

A regular practice of gentle exercise coupled with mindful breathing during your summer holidays will intensify your experience of relaxation, and more importantly your natural ability to recover from periods of intensity at work or home. So, take time this summer to plan out your days in such a way that you honours your need to restore your energy in body and mind for healthy living.

Happy Summer!

Lisa Romano-Dwyer, Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist (OCSWSSW)

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