Summer. It’s here. Longer days spent basking at the beach, playing a round (or ten) of street cricket with your mates, and enjoying backyard BBQs to the sound of cicadas in the balmy evenings. And while the warmer months also have downsides – mozzie bites, sunburn, juggling childcare when school’s out – the halcyon days of summer should be appreciated before autumn rolls around again.
So how can you increase your enjoyment of what’s going on right now? Here are a few ideas to help you notice and savour the warmer months…
Make a photo book
Snaps shouldn’t only appear in a holiday album or on Instagram. Make a visual record of the season, or a part of it at least, by taking a photograph a day. Choose a particular theme on which to focus, such as nature or family, or wait to see what inspires you at the time. Knowing that a goal has been set to take a photo each day will help to increase your awareness of what’s happening around you, giving you more opportunities to be in the moment and enjoy the here and now. By the end of summer, you’ll have a bank of shots that represent a period of time in your life. Print them off and pop your memories in a special photo book to keep forever.
Set some goals
Drifting through the warmer months with no set plans can mean you reach the end of a season without having really engaged with it or made the most of it. Take time to think about how you want to feel this summer, where you’d like to go, what you’d like to try and who you want to see. You may want to stay at home and take a break from the outside world, or perhaps this is the time to go exploring with friends and family – it’s entirely up to you. Write a list of all the things you want to achieve and set yourself the goal of ticking them off by a specific date. As the weeks pass, you can relax, content in the knowledge that you’re spending summer as you planned.
In contrast to setting intentions, savour the warmer months by embracing spontaneity. Rather than scheduling every moment of your time, leave space to see what you feel like doing on the day. If the weather is bad or energy levels are low, opt for a relaxing time with movies, board games or an indoor picnic. If you wake up to brilliant sunshine and a cloudless sky, take the opportunity to go on a mini adventure. Explore the local area, pretend you’re a tourist and visit all the spots you normally pass by in your ordinary routine. Take a day trip to the city, go camping or book an impromptu stay in a lavish hotel. When cool, dark nights return, you can reflect on all the fun you’ve had.
Write a gratitude diary
One of the best ways to be mindful and enjoy all that is good about summer (and the rest of the year) is to make a note every day of what you feel thankful for. It can be anything, but be as specific as you can. The more you can recall and write in detail, the more benefit you’ll feel from remembering the moment.
Although you can practise gratitude daily by talking about it at dinner, or saying it silently to yourself before you fall asleep, writing your gratitude on paper or in a journal is the best way of fixing your appreciation in your long-term memory. Aim to jot down three things each day and by the end of the summer you’ll have created a habit that you can carry into the rest of the year, one that will continue to benefit you for a long time to come.
Feast on seasonal produce
One of the best things about warmer weather is the abundance of natural produce. Choosing food that has been grown locally means you’re supporting farmers and producers in your area and eating fresh meals that embody the season.
Growing your own maximises the enjoyment you get from seasonal food and it’s a great way to engage children and adults alike in eating fresh fruit and vegetables. A garden isn’t necessary – all you need are a few tubs or pots on a balcony.
Pop along to your nearest farmers market and enjoy the bounty grown by someone else. Eating outdoors can make a seasonal meal taste even more delicious. Lay a table and add small vases of gum leaves and wattle, or spread out a blanket on the lawn. Whether you’re relaxing alone or with family or friends, notice the sights and sounds of the local insect and wildlife population and soak up summer – right in this moment.
Words: Gabrielle Treanor
This article was originally published under the title ‘Here comes the sun’ in Issue 17 – Going with the slow