Summertime and the Livin’ Is Easy: Tips for Relaxing This Summer
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“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” are lyrics from the song “Summer Time,” written by Hayward and Gershwin in 1934. Since then it has become an anthem for the summer, recorded by thousands of artists from Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald to Paul McCartney.
However, some may think, “the summer is here and the livin’ ain’t easy.” Daily commutes, project deadlines, the pandemic, and planning to travel for a summer vacation can all be stressful...
Here are a few tips that may be helpful during a busy summer time.
Get away: The Northeast can be a hectic place to live and work all year-round. Vacationing in other states and countries where there is a slower pace of living can be relaxing. You may not have to travel far to find some peace – I recall staying at a relative’s summer home in a lakeside community in North Jersey to have been a relaxing vacation.
It can take a few days to unwind on vacation. So take the time to chill out, slow down, relax, be present, and enjoy your well-deserved trip. When away, try not to be so busy that when you return home you will feel like you need a vacation from the vacation.
Rest: Learn from the example of Jesus Christ, who took time away from his busy ministry to rest. He also invited his followers to do so by learning about rest from him. (See Mark 6:31; Matthew 11:28-30). Rest can help us relax, unwind, and rejuvenate.
Take a nature walk: Take a walk slowly and mindfully in nature and simply pay attention to the sights, sounds, and wonders of God’s creation, which we may take for granted.
Reflect rather than ruminate: Ruminating over our problems can lead to anxiety and possibly depression. Take a break from mental problem solving and follow the advice of the apostle Paul to think on things that are true and pleasing, which may bring a sense of God’s peace. (See Philippines 4:4-9)
Meditate: One spiritual teacher has referred to brief meditations as taking a mini vacation wherever and whenever you need one. People say, “I can’t concentrate enough to meditate” or “’I’m too busy to meditate,” but practicing meditation can increase your concentration and decrease internal busyness so that you can more clearly prioritize your schedule.
Mindfulness meditation has become very popular. It has been adapted by sports teams, business corporations, psychotherapists, and the military because of its benefits in stress reduction and productivity. Mindfulness meditation consists of paying attention to your breathing in silence while letting go of distracting thoughts and sensations by briefly labeling them and returning to paying attention to your inhalations and exhalations. You can begin with brief periods, expanding the length of time as you become accustomed to it and develop a regular practice. Mindful awareness can be applied to tasks throughout the day.
Breath prayers: These brief prayers can be said anytime and anywhere. They consist of the coordination of reciting simple prayers with the inhalations and exhalation of your breath. Some examples of words that can be used in breath prayers are: “Be still, know God,” “Prince of Peace, grant me peace,” and “Eternal Light, guide me.” Probably the most common prayer is “God, help me!” What is important in breath prayers is not how many times you repeat the words but your intention and attention to the words that may bring peace.
My hope and prayer is that these tips may help you find that “the living’ is easy” during the summertime.
Rev. Tim Dunn, LCSW, LCADC