The Four R’s of Summertime
Summer! A welcome shift of thought and action toward family, vacation, pleasure, and relaxation. This time of year, we more easily tune into that life ‘refresh’ mode. Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of what I like to call the Four R’s – Relaxation, Recreation, Re-energize, and Relationships:
We allow a little more self care by taking a break from, or easing up on our daily demands. Longer daylight encourages us to make space for down time, to breathe, to simply “be” and not constantly “do”. When we ARE doing, it is with more an element of enjoyment than task. This helps lower our stress. This is huge, as stress causes tons of disfunction.
Decreased stress reduces adrenaline and cortisol in our systems. This helps reduce our risk of high blood pressure and damage to our heart, as well as reducing food cravings (cortisol) for better weight management. Further, reduction of chronic stress increases our body’s ability to fight inflammation and strengthens our immune system. Add benefits include boosting memory and better decision making, and reducing serotonin and dopamine (linked to depression), and acne relief. Plus, relaxing simply feels great! What’s not to love?
In most places where we live, summer brings a far more welcoming outdoor environment. We move our bodies more in fresh air and sunshine as we emerge to enjoy places and spaces now easily accessible and comfortable. Babbling and rushing water offers refreshing coolness on hot days. Plants of the woods and fields fill the air with revitalizing oxygen as we enjoy their scents and cool shaded canopies. The warmer weather offers greater opportunity for active adventures in open canyons, roads, lakes, woods and sky.
Being physically active is also an excellent factor in reducing stress (see benefits above). Outdoor activity is especially beneficial to our health for a number of other reasons, not the least of which includes fresh clean well oxygenated air to all our cells (provide you are not in a highly polluted outdoor setting). Physical benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing arthritis pain, weight loss, and lowered risk of many diseases such as diabetes, cancers, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Social benefits also abound, from a sense of being part of something larger than yourself, to an opportunity to interact with other people and living things.
We take more time to explore places near and far, opening ourselves to new experiences. This is healthy for our intellectual inspiration and growth, to get out of the same old patterns and thought processes that can stagnate our minds to boredom and inactivity, both mental and physical. The emotional impact of new or renewed experiences causes us to be open to fresh perspectives, mindfulness, and creativity as our brains are stimulated by all that interesting new input. This results in healthy energy, positive mood, and a reduction in cortisol levels as our discoveries increase the workings within our brain, which in turn inspires our bodies to alertness – all the better if we are physically active while doing it, such as walking, biking, or hiking through our experience.
We find or create opportunities to gather and renew relationships at cookouts, canoe trips, or simply in the backyard. Healthy relationships require attention, which our normal daily routines slowly and easily tend to drift away from unless there are negative issues requiring our attention. Summertime softens our routines to open up more opportunity for positive, and intentional interaction. This ‘feeding of the souls’ is so very critical to our wellbeing, to our sense of place, purpose, and meaning in relation to others. It is a time we can and do increase the potential to develop and strengthen the emotional ties that impact our healthy mindset, which impacts not only how we treat our own bodies but how our brains transmit that all powerful sense of well being to all the cells in our system.
Of course, our summer of the Four R’s also brings a few ‘less welcome’ shifts to our lives as we plan mightily for our ‘break’ from our daily lives..
cramming in last minute work
upon return, our stress of catching up on the work backlog
disruption of often carefully constructed daily routines that keep us ‘on our game’ of managing health, family, and time.
Four R’s All Year?
Last year as I spent 4 weeks back in Michigan mixing vacation, work and time with family and friends, it occurred to me “Why don’t I live like this ALL the time? Would that be some kind of wonderful?” After all, I was really enjoying getting some productive work done, even in unusual places like the beach, coffee shops, and my daughter’s dining room. And in between, getting together to renew and nourish relationships, visit some new places, get out for some relaxing walks, hikes, and bike rides, and giving myself plenty of permission to just chill and enjoy without feeling that drive to accomplish! The more I thought about it, the more the idea stuck. Why not? It was such a lovely existence, could I even set an intention for that? Soon after though, I returned home and flowed back into my regular life and routine without a hitch, or so I thought.
Apparently though, I’d planted a seed! As I look back on this past year, I realize there have been more R’s mixed into these months than ever before. Each season brought new concepts to develop in my coaching practice that really energized me, but somehow it began allowing space. I somehow spent more time out hiking, walking, skiing, and catching a latte with friends new and old than ever before. Holidays and other special days have turned into ‘outing’ days for nearby adventures out of doors. Time seemed to open up for a new business class I wanted to take, as well as beginning to study two areas of special interest. I even created regular time for home and garden improvements I’d put off, and meditation I hadn’t had time for before.
As I make plans for our upcoming ‘bucket list’ trip to Alaska, I realize those less welcome shifts are not seeming to be as large. Yes, I still have a growing To-Do list before we leave, as well as when we return. Not nearly as large and looming as past years. Yes, our daily routine will need to shift during the trip and once we land back home. But this time, instead of dreading the disruptions, I sort of welcome them as less of a disruption but more of a
Important stuff, this life of ours. So, about that shift.
I wonder…..if the Four R’s are so healthy for us, why save it for summer? Can it be year-round healthy? Instead of planning mightily for a ‘break’ from my daily life, I’ve set an intention to live it fully, every day, every week, every season. How about you?
ON THE BLOG
Is Your Low Energy Caused By Anemia?
Do you often feel too tired to do ANYTHING some days, even right after you get out of bed? You may be anemic.
Making changes in your diet can dramatically improve your energy!
While there are many reasons you may suffer a lack of energy, anemia is pretty suspect as our 21st century diets have changed toward foods lower in the nutrients our ancestors enjoyed. One way our bodies are energized is through the oxygen our red blood cells transports throughout the body. Anemia is a condition of deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin to do the job.
*continue reading: Is Your Low Energy Caused By Anemia?
Your Harvest of Health
What does Autumn mean to you? How do you prepare for the season with its ever-shorter days and the hibernation instinct lurking around the bend?
This year, transform your life and take your health to a new level with a weekend of rest, relaxation, and life redesign:
Greet and celebrate the energy of autumn with its abundance.
Develop new tools and strategies to cook and eat in vibration with the season.
Learn how to ground yourself and build your immunity for the colder weather to come.
Grab your girlfriends and join fellow health coach Liza Baker and me September 25-27 by Lake Michigan for a weekend of rest, relaxation, and life redesign as we prepare for Autumn (never too early to look ahead)!
Details and registration at yourharvestofhealth.weebly.com.
Fermentation Workshop Fun
Fermented foods are a very old tradition that has helped keep humans healthy through a healthy gut for thousands of years. Did you know ketchup and mustard were originally fermented foods?
Our first Fermented Foods Workshop on May 26 was really fun, with a great group of eager FERMENTATORS! We shared the load and filled the kitchen comfortably with fun, healthy camaraderie, and delectable creations – kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi,and kombucha. In addition to a tasty sampling of kombucha, every participant took home plenty of new knowledge, experience, and a starter of each of our five creations to continue the tradition at home.
NEXT WORKSHOP COMING SOON!
If you missed it, live in on the Colorado Western Slope, and would love to learn more about and try some healthy fermented foods, we plan on having another event later this summer – as soon as we grow enough kefir and kombucha starters for our participants. If interested, ask me to add you to the list for first notice when we set a date!
Spinach and mushrooms are both great spring and early summer foods. Combined, this tasty dish boosts your nervous system as well as your energy!
SPINACH & MUSHROOM SAUTE
Prep & cook: 15 min.
2Tbsp organic butter or coconut oil
2Tbsp minced shallot
1tsp minced garlic
8oz. shiitake or other mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
1 lb fresh spinach (may substitute other tender greens such as swiss chard or baby kale)
½ t EACH sea salt, black pepper
In large pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic, saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, ssaute until tender, 4 min. Add spinach, salt, and pepper, cover pot, and cook 1½ minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, tossing spinach with tongs for 1 minute, until spinach is wilted and tender and combined with mushrooms.
Key nutrients: B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates, thiamin, pyridoxine), selenium, potassium, copper, ergothioneine (an antioxidant), vitamins A, C, K, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenol antioxidants (lutein, zea-xanthin, beta-carotene).