Try one or more of these practical ways to help your family mindfully ease into summer.
Mindfulness is a healthy coping skill that can help you regain focus when thoughts or situations become overwhelming. Practicing mindfulness can be challenging for many parents, especially during seasonal transitions. However, as the weather heats up this summer, you’ll likely find yourself becoming more energetic than in the colder, winter months. Summer is an ideal time to put that extra energy to good use by freshening up your mindfulness practice. So clear your mind, enjoy the longer days, and focus on the present with a few activities to strengthen your mindfulness.
Embrace the Changing Seasons and Get Cooking
An excellent way to practice mindfulness is to embrace summertime by whipping up a few culinary treats using seasonal produce. In addition, cooking a delicious home-cooked meal allows you to use all your senses, which is an essential part of mindfulness. Try to remain present during each step of the process, from preparation to enjoying your finished meal. You can even use mindfulness when selecting your food at the grocery store. Pay attention to what senses help you make each selection, such as sight, touch and smell.
Surround Yourself in Nature with a Walking Meditation
Walking meditations are perfect for those looking to combine low-intensity exercise with nature’s sights and sounds. Summer is a wonderful time to go outdoors too. During a walking meditation, you can focus on your breath, how your body moves and what you see. If you’d like, you can pop in your headphones and listen to a meditation app or simply focus on the thoughts that cross your mind. In 2022, a research study found that mindful walking outside can decrease stress, enhance sleep and bring an overall sense of well-being to participants. So, put on your walking shoes and begin your mindful walking journey this summer.
Kick Off Summer by Decluttering Your Home
Springtime isn’t the only time to get your home in order. Disorganization and clutter often cause anxiety, especially as you accumulate more things you don’t need. Mindfulness and decluttering often go hand in hand, as you must remain intentional as you decide what to keep, donate or throw away. Don’t let your organization efforts overwhelm you, though. For example, you can start as small as you’d like with a junk drawer or your bathroom. Make sure you maintain the right frame of mind as you go through your items and reflect on what you truly need as you enter a new season of growth.
Unplug from Electronics and Reconnect with Yourself
Many people struggle to set healthy boundaries with electronics. This struggle becomes even more apparent if you must constantly check your work email or phone even after office hours. Spending too much time online or using electronics can cause a disconnect from what truly matters in life. Make a conscious effort to remain more mindful this summer by deliberately limiting how much time you surf the Web or answer emails. You can then use this time to reconnect with your loved ones over a cup of tea or even reconnect with yourself with a bit of journaling, yoga or introspection.
Get Your Kids in on the Action
Mindfulness isn’t just something for adults to enjoy. Children are often more naturally mindful, especially smaller kids since they use all their senses to explore the world around them. Make mindfulness fun and intentional by incorporating activities they’ll enjoy throughout the day. Lay a blanket or some beach towels on the lawn, lie down and observe the clouds in the sky. Discuss with your children what each one looks like, what shapes they make and what colors they are. Another fun way to practice mindfulness with your children is to bring them along on your walks and ask them to point out 10 things they see along your route. Not only are these great ways to enhance your bond with your child, but you’re building the foundation for them to become more mindful as they grow.
Mindfulness is an essential component of self-care and this summer is a great time to put it into practice. Fortunately, there are many ways to practice mindfulness, and each is easily adjustable to fit your schedule. As seasons end and new ones begin, we become aware of the seasons of our lives and how quickly they pass. Practicing mindfulness this summer will help you maintain an optimistic outlook and put things into perspective no matter the challenges ahead.
Anthony Cupo is a trained mindfulness facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC, and has been meditating for over 30 years.