The phrase “lazy days of summer” feels charmingly passé in 2018—an era in which our warm-weather weekends are packed with as many road trips, beach workouts, and keto-friendly cookouts as possible. (No wonder researchers have found that women’s stress levels spike in the summer.)
Clearly, taking time out for self-care is important at this time of the year, though it’s definitely hard to pull yourself away from the June-to-August social swirl. The trick? Planning activities that allow you to recharge while still taking advantage of everything that’s so rad about the season. Here, wellness experts outline an itinerary for the perfect summer self-care day. Pick one item or do them all—there’s plenty to keep you sane until hygge season rolls back around.
Read on for 7 brilliant ideas for summer self-care.
Engage in some morning sex—and a little naked sunbathing
Getting busy is a foolproof way to start your self-care day off on a really high note—and it doesn’t matter if you’re coupled up or solo. “The process of arousal and orgasm generates a ton of bliss neurotransmitters and hormones,” explains holistic sex and relationship expert Kim Anami. “All of these things are excellent fuel for your day.”
She recommends following up your booty call with a five-minute spot of sunbathing in the buff (with plenty of SPF, of course!). “The vitamin D is excellent for the breasts and, according to ancient Taoist sexology, the yang force of the sun is potent energy for the vagina,” Anami says. The latter might be a little, uh, out there for some, but you can still take advantage of the spirit of the advice by taking your morning coffee or matcha al fresco—or at least by the window.
Get into a high-vibe headspace
If there’s one person who knows how to set a magical mood, it’s manifestation guide Jessie De Lowe. She believes it’s important to make sure both you and your space are energetically primed for a soothing day, and there are a few simple steps that can get you there.
First, take a few moments to tidy up. “Clutter interferes with the flow of energy, so do a quick sweep of your home to get everything feeling nice and clear,” she says. She also suggests turning on your favorite mood-boosting tunes, placing rose quartz and citrine crystals around your home, and lighting a few candles or diffusing some essential oils—sandalwood, cedar, and frankincense are her favorites for grounding.
Then, get yourself ready for the day by putting on an outfit that makes you feel beautiful, yet comfortable, and washing your face with intention. “Mindfully send gratitude to all of your senses—I’m grateful for my sense of sight, my sense of smell, etc.—as you cleanse each part of your face,” she says. “Follow that with a spritz of beautifying rose water and an organic natural oil to replenish and pamper your skin.”
Finally, she recommends meditating for five minutes and then doing something creative. “The choice is yours: journal, watercolor, collage, draw, knit, sing, dance, create an altar,” she says. “Finally, write down a list of your intentions. Do not censor yourself but write honestly and freely from your soul’s truth.” And don’t afraid to make your list look fancy, like these Instagrammers.
Nourish your bod with a seasonal superfood smoothie
If you wake up suffering from the effects of one too many matcha margaritas, a mega-dose of healthy, whole foods will set you up to feel better all day long. Holistic health coach Molly Alliman suggests beginning your morning with a chilled smoothie, since it’ll give you a big hit of nutrients without much effort.
“This smoothie includes a balance of greens and low-sugar fruit with healthy fats from avocado, protein from hemp seeds or gut-boosting collagen peptides, and maca, an adaptogen that boosts energy and mood for you to go out and enjoy your summer day,” she says of her go-to recipe, outlined below. Plus, when you flood your bod with healthy foods first thing, you’ll be less likely to crave the junky stuff later on. (Just ask Zac Efron.)
Balance by Molly’s Summer Breakfast Smoothie
Yields 1 serving
1 cup unsweetened nut milk, coconut milk, or hemp milk
6 whole frozen strawberries
1/2 cup spinach
3 Tbsp hemp seeds or 2 scoops of collagen peptides
1/2 tsp maca powder
1. Place everything into a high speed blender and blend.
For some people, self-care equals a rest day—while for others, there’s nothing more healing than a serious sweat. Whichever category you identify with, there are merits to moving your body in some way, preferably outdoors.
“[A recent] study found that there was around a 50 percent improvement in people’s mental health if they were physically active in the natural environment,” says Jacquelyn Casado, Equinox Tier X Trainer. “Research has shown that the brain likes to be outside. Whether you are in a forest or concrete jungle, you will automatically turn down your stress response, stimulating your endorphins.”
What you do once you get out of the house is totally up to you. If you feel like a more vigorous workout, Casedo recommends cycling, swimming, kayaking, or rowing. And if gentle movement feels more your speed, she says gardening, breathing exercises, and walking are all great options. The important thing is not to take your activity of choice too seriously. “Go outside and become a kid again,” she stresses. “Find a swing set and swing, do some flips in the pool, ride a bike around the city with no destination in mind. Just move, smile, and have fun.” Field day in the park, anyone?
Gather your pals for a women’s circle
“Sometimes self-care goes beyond pampering and includes learning what truly nurtures the soul and leaves you feeling truly loved and supported,” says Lori Harder, women’s empowerment expert and author of A Tribe Called Bliss. “This type of soul-filling day requires some friends.”
Harder suggests kicking off your hang with a guided meditation, and then moving on to a “love fest” ritual. “Pick a guest to start with, and each person will say, ‘The beauty I see in you is…’ and finish the sentence,” she says. “Go around the room until each person has completed the sentence. Then, go the next person and do the same thing until finished.” You can also have each guest write down a few questions to ask the group and place them into a “connection bowl,” Harder says—for example, something like, “If we really knew you, we’d know that…”
Harder promises these activities are way more healing than cracking open a bottle of rosé. “These are ways to create deep connections that will actually fill your cup, instead of just leaving with an empty wine glass,” she says.
Give your skin some summer TLC
“One of the unintentional mistakes we make in the first few weeks of summer is not transitioning our skin into a more heated environment,” says Therapeutic Skin Coach founder Hayley Wood. “Some of us regulate heat better than others, and if you don’t release it fast enough, it could eventually turn into inflammation.”
Her favorite way to do that is by freezing freshly-brewed chamomile tea in an ice cube tray. Just wrap a few cubes in a thin paper towel and massage them into your face—giving extra love to areas with breakouts, redness, or sunburn.
The esthetician also suggests taking a cool shower once you’ve returned home for the day. “I like to follow it up with a self-massage using coconut oil or avocado oil,” she says. “The massage helps calm the nervous system and assist the body’s natural rhythm of detoxification, while the omegas [in the oil] help to soothe and restore dehydrated, damaged skin.” Spa day, any day.
Prep for bed with a cooling yoga routine
Deep sleep is the ultimate self-care practice—but if you don’t have AC in your apartment, it can be tough to get a full eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye.
To help improve your slumber, yoga and meditation instructor Lindsey Valdez recommends a three-part bedtime ritual that combines cooling breathwork with soothing yoga poses. (A recorded version is available on the Yoga Wake Up app, along with tons of other a.m. and p.m. yoga routines that can be done from the comfort of your bed.)
First, Valdez says, start with Sitali pranayama while laying with the soles of your feet together and your knees apart. “Making an ‘O’ shape with your mouth, curl the edges of your tongue inward like a taco,” she says. “Begin inhaling through your curled tongue as if you were sipping water through a straw. To exhale, pull your tongue back into your mouth, closing your lips gently as you slowly breathe out through your nose.”
Once you’ve repeated this eight to ten times, she says, drop your legs down to the left while you twist your torso to the right, keeping your arms overhead in a V shape. Reverse your twist, and then situate yourself so you can lie with your legs up the wall for another eight to ten rounds of Sitali breath. “Once you’re done, relax here for another two to three minutes as you seal in your gratitude for the day,” says Valdez. And remember to set the intention to do it all again before Labor Day.
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