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Beat the Heat: Summer Self-Care

Summer is here! Time to get outside (don’t forget the sunscreen!), get into nature, cook on the grill, and spend time in the garden. Regardless of which coast you live on, the summer can be grueling with warm temperatures and stifling humidity.

Between vacations, barbecues, the daily grind, and socializing, you may fail to pay attention to the most interesting person connecting all of them—you. Going from very little activity during winter to running around in summer can tax your body and mind. An energizing and balancing self-care routine for the summer accommodates the external and internal goals, so you can make the most of this time of the year and boost your mental and physical health.

Even in terms of routines, practices that may have served you in winter will no longer serve you now, whether it is a spa massage, a choice of outdoor activity, or eating vegetables and fruits that suit your body type (called Prakruti in the ancient science of wellness, Ayurveda.) Ayurveda prescribes specific seasonal self-care practices to stay on top of your health called Ritucharya, or the seasonal routine.

And so, we’ve compiled a list of five easy self-care routines you can practice this summer to make it the best one for you. Let’s dive in!

Eat light because your digestive system is still rebooting!

Believe it or not, during the summer months, your digestive fire is weaker than the rest of the year and so you end up feeling heavy and bloated from eating heavy, oily, fried meals. Have light dinners and relatively fuller lunches, when your digestive fire is its strongest.

Load up on light, cooling, and seasonal foods.

Among fruits, you can have watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, pears, apples, berries, and mangoes. These fruits are hydrating and help cool the body.

Vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, leafy greens, broccoli, celery, and bell peppers are high in water and mineral content while being light on the stomach.

If you like to add a lot of herbs and spices, go for mint, cilantro, dill, or fennel and coriander that have cooling properties and can go with your choice of salads, and beverages.

Barley, quinoa, and couscous are some easy-to-digest grains for the season.

Since digestion is not at its strongest, go easy on dairy products. If you must, have fresh yogurt, buttermilk, and tofu.

When it comes to beverages, drink coconut water, which is high in electrolytes; herbal teas like mint and hibiscus; and water infused with lemon or mint.

Try to stay away from refined sugars and instead swap them with honey or maple syrup.

Here’s a refreshing mango coconut smoothie you can make at home and feel proud of yourself! Or try this sensational summer salad full of seasonal greens and topped with homemade dressing.

Hydrate

To avoid excesses like heat strokes and loss of consciousness, it is non-negotiable to have water at regular intervals throughout the day, no matter where you are or what you do, especially if you step out every day.

  • Avoid iced beverages since they lower digestive fire which is already running low in the summer.
  • Aim for at least eight glasses of water daily, and carry a reusable water bottle with you.
  • Munch on hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges.
  • A glass of lemon juice with some salt can be refreshing and replenish the salts you lose through sweat and urine in the summer.

Staying hydrated also helps regulate your body temperature and keeps you refreshed and alert.

How much exercise is too much exercise?

This is the time of the year when you can go easy on the heavy weight lifting and kickboxing. As per Ayurveda, you lose a lot of prana or energy due to the environmental heat in the summer, so exercises should be moderate, fun, and not too intense or strenuous. Avoid working out in the mid-day sun. Finish your workouts early in the day.

  • Partake in activities like jogging, biking, hiking, or doing yoga in the park.
  • Get out in the sun while it is still mild, as it can lift your spirits and make workouts fun.
  • Aim for 30-40 minutes of outdoor exercise every day.
  • Soak up some vitamin D for glowing skin and other skin benefits early in the morning.

Outdoor exercise boosts physical fitness and improves mood by raising serotonin levels and reducing stress. It’s also a fun way to explore new areas and enjoy summer to its fullest.


Picking the Right Massage Oil

We all love a soothing Ayurvedic massage or Abhyanga, but which oil should you use and why? The favorite among Ayurveda experts for the season is coconut oil. It is cooling and helps in lowering pitta that peaks during summer. According to research, it is a natural sunblock that can prevent 20% of the damage from harsh sun rays. You can use it for healing wounds, rashes, and sunburns too.

Stay Protected in the Sun

The sun may feel like your best friend, but remember to stay protected from long-term exposure to its harmful rays.

  • Sunscreen is a must! Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to guard against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Frequently apply generous amounts of sunscreen to exposed skin across your body. Remember to reapply every two hours, especially if you’re swimming, sweating, or staying out in the sun for long periods
  • Shield your skin with protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and lightweight long-sleeve shirts.

Adhering to these precautions can prevent sunburns, heat rashes, and premature aging while reducing the risk of skin cancer.

Indulge in Mindful Relaxation

Summer can be overwhelming with soaring temperatures, the scorching sun, oppressive humidity, and crammed social calendars. The aggravated pitta during summer needs some balancing out with grounding and cooling exercises like pranayamas or breathing practices such as Sheetali, Sheetkari, Chandra, and Surya Bheda.

  • Practice calming meditation to still the mind and take in all that’s around us. It is a solid counter to pitta-related conditions like irritability, impatience, or anger.
  • Unwind with a good book at your favorite cafe.
  • Set aside a few minutes each day for relaxation techniques like yoga to help you unwind and de-stress.
  • Take regular relaxation breaks like simply going on a walk to enhance your resilience to daily stressors.

Socialize

It won’t be long before winter hibernation comes back around, so get out there and socialize! Join your friends and family for a day in the woods, go berry picking, or visit museums with your kids. There is plenty of research indicating that in these modern times, real offline connections are necessary for us to be collectively happy and content.

A summer self-care routine isn’t just about keeping physically healthy. It also caters to your emotional and mental well-being. So don’t forget to prioritize yourself first with a well-balanced routine!