Our summers are not always filled with the sun-kissed tans after days on the beach or carefree conversations over a crackling fire. Our hopes of vacations and free-time are often shattered by busy sports schedules and overwhelming appointments.

But the truth is that our bodies need time to rest and relax. We were not made to run like the Energizer Bunny without time to refill. Our bodies function better emotionally, physically and psychologically when we grant ourselves time to sit back and unwind.

Here are nine simple ways to reduce the heavy load of stress that has been weighing upon you for the last nine months and enjoy some summer relaxing. These ideas are summarized from various therapists and trained professionals.

#1: Spend time in the sun

This doesn’t have to be large chunks of time; even thirty minutes in the sun can improve your attitude significantly. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds roll by. Invite your favorite person over to play card games in the yard. Sunlight is by far the biggest source of Vitamin D, which is crucial for strengthening bones and regulating nearly every system in our bodies.

Summer Relaxing Pool

CC Image courtesy of pastraspaso on Flickr

#2: Prioritize sleep.

Sleep can “improve physical prowess, lower risk of injury” and enhance “impulse control and decision making”. So whether it includes adding a nap to your Sunday afternoon or setting the alarm clock for an hour later, make sleep a priority.

#3: Practice Yoga.

Yoga is proven to expel anxious energy and increase your sense of calm. Whether you sign up for a beginner’s class or simply enjoy it in the privacy of your own home, yoga will take you out of your “fight or flight mode” of anxious energy and put you into “rest and relaxation mode”.

#4: Engage in your favorite activities.

Read a book. Watch a movie. Take dance lessons. Eat delicious food. Make a sand castle. Do the things that bring you joy because they will rejuvenate you and cultivate the positive energy that may be missing in your life.

#5: Watch a sunset.

The vivid oranges, purples, blues, and reds of a summer sunset are without rival. Don’t forget to take a night to stand on the pier or sit on your back porch and soak in the beauty of an exquisite sunset.

Summer Relaxing Sunset

CC Image courtesy of flequi on Flickr

#6: Laugh.

Laughter has a way of freeing us from our emotional and physical stress. “Inhibitions, hang-ups, and self-absorption succumb to humor”. So go to that comedy club or choose the new comedy release on Netflix.

#7: Exercise regularly.

We all have heard of the benefits of exercising, but we also know how easily we can pick up the remote instead of lacing up our tennis shoes. Exercise “boosts memory, builds intelligence, improves mood, brings about better sleep, reduces body fat, improves breathing, and maintains immune functioning”.

#8: Turn off the electronics.

In our world of iphones, ipads, and ieverythings, we struggle to free ourselves from the constant buzz of this world. The daily news report can provoke our anxiety, and the altered photos of models can alert us to our imperfections. Be intentional about taking an hour, a day, or a week to turn off that piece of technology and enjoy the peace it will bring.

#9: Enjoy nature.

Take a walk and enjoy the variety of “sensory experiences” that surround us. We do not live in a world of textureless, white walls. We live in a world of juicy watermelon, slimy salamanders, and choirs of blue-jays.

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