Plan Your Best Summer Ever

How do you live your best summer ever?  Is it in the summer bucket lists filled with fun activities or the fun vacations you have planned?  Or is it in the simple moments where you are just enjoying a walk in the sunshine?  Is it attending family events to reunite with extended family again?  Living your best summer could be all of those things or none of those things, but it depends on how you define “living your best summer.”

To live our best summers, we need to dig deep and know what our values are first.  That means we need to be aware of what our priorities are – those things we hold dear to us.  It could be we value health, or family, or maybe we value adventure, or achievement.  If you Google “values list”, you will find lists of words that are values to help you through this process.  As you peruse the lists, start writing down the words that have meaning to you.  Then narrow that list to your top five values.  Once you’ve done that, you are ready to live out your best summer and life ever.

Once you know your values, you can start to plan your summer based on these priorities.  As you think about all the events and opportunities starting to pop up on your schedule this summer, take a look at them through your values lens.  Do they align?  If they do, that’s when you will feel the most satisfied and feel like you are living your best life.  You will be happy to include that in your summer plan. However, if they don’t align, then you may need to say “no” or tweak the opportunity to match your value.  Making values-based decisions prevents us from making guilt-based decisions.  Planning our summers in alignment with our values will leave us feeling a whole lot more balanced and happy than when we make plans according to someone else’s values.  You can also use this system to develop a set of family values, which can be very helpful in the summer planning process.

Let’s see how this could work.  Let’s say one of your values is health.  So, this summer you choose to:

Take a Vacation
Vacations have multiple benefits including lowering your blood pressure, heart rate and stress.
Register for a 5K
Make plans to train for that 5K starting two months before the scheduled date, running several days a week.
Plant a Garden in your Backyard or Subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
Plan your meals in the summer to incorporate more fresh produce, like fruits and vegetables from your garden or the farmer’s market. Gardening is also a great stress reliever.
Drink Low-Calorie Beverages
Decide to stock and drink lighter, calorie-free beverages with aspartame, like diet seltzer water, soda or unsweetened tea.
Go Lite with Alcohol
Summer is a great time to skip drinks with hard alcohol and go light with a chilled beverage like sangria, a light beer or margarita punch.
Learn Something New
Summer vacations may mean you have some time to learn something new. Whether this is taking a class, learning a new sport or hobby, or reading about a new topic poolside, it may be refreshing. Family members or friends’ children may learn something new during summer camps that they want to share with you. There are numerous camps that incorporate healthy activities that the entire family may enjoy.
Enjoy the Outdoors
The longer days of summer don’t need to be dog days of heat and humidity. Instead they can offer evenings and early morning hours to get outdoors. Some people’s moods are improved by being outdoors while others find that the longer days allow for social activities that they enjoy.

Take out a sheet of paper and make a chart listing your values.  Then take a look at summer events/opportunities you have coming up and see if those activities fall into one of your value categories.  When you make decisions based on your values, you will live a happier life!

 

Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, is an award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, speaker and author of the inspiring book, “The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden.” She has been featured as a food and nutrition expert on media outlets like Food & Nutrition Magazine, Nutrition 411, and Today’s Dietitian. Jen empowers moms to live a more balanced life through workshops, retreats and online courses.  Her goal is to equip moms with tools that bring life into balance while making meal planning a breeze, boosting confidence in the kitchen, and gardening for healthy plates.  Find her at www.jenhaugen.com.

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