Deliciously warming sunshine beams down from a cloudless sky. Sparkling, tantalizing water tempts you to enjoy a refreshing afternoon delight. Ah, summertime. Is there anything more blissful?
But with the changing seasons and the reappearance of bright sunshine, warm weather and dry conditions, there are some tweaks we need to make to our daily routine. And while they aren’t massive, they can ensure that you get through summer feeling healthy, happy and content.
Here are some of our easy ways to stay healthy this summer.
Do: Lather on the sunscreen
Even when it’s cloudy outside, it’s still possible for the sun to burn you. So during summertime (and in fact, all year round if you want to be pedantic), you should really integrate sunscreen into your daily beauty routine.
After your shower in the morning, mix your sunscreen with your regular moisturizer and apply to your entire body. If your facial skin is particularly sensitive, it’s worthwhile investing in a targeted facial sunscreen that is oil-free and doesn’t clog your pores.
Because while having glowing, tanned skin always looks incredible, experiencing the repercussions of skin cancer isn’t so incredible. So make sure you always wear sunscreen before you leave the house and if you’re spending an extended period of time outdoors, reapply the sunscreen every two to three hours.
Note: If you are vitamin D deficient you should see your doctor for a supplement. Getting regular sunshine each day is good, but it’s always a balancing act between getting the right amount and ensuring you don’t damage your skin. To be safe, continue to wear sunscreen and take a supplement to boost your vitamin D levels instead.
Do: Clean your phone every day
When was the last time you cleaned your phone? During summertime, the answer should be ‘today’. Because combining sweaty cheeks that are pressed against a phone for minutes and even hours at a time can often lead to pesky breakouts and pimples. Add in smeared makeup and you’re well on your way to pimples-R-us.
As a good summer tip, keep some make-up remover wipes handy in your bag and give your phone a good clean at least once a day, or alternatively, before a marathon phone session.
Do: Be food savvy
During summertime, the risk of food-borne illnesses increases significantly. This is primarily due to the rising heat, which offers a greater opportunity for microorganisms in food to multiply.
To avoid catching a bad dose of food poisoning, make sure you don’t eat anything that’s been left out for too long, always wash your hands before you handle food and before you eat, and where possible cook your meal fresh.
Good summer foods include salads, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. If you’re cooking meat, ensure that any dishes or utensils you use for preparing the raw meat is kept away from those you eat with.
And if you start to feel nauseous, experiencing vomiting, diarrhea or flu-like symptoms, call your doctor.
Do: Juice it up
Now that the weather is warmer, it’s the perfect time to indulge in some of your favorite juices and smoothies. Not only will you boost your daily fruit intake, but you’ll also stay hydrated and improve your overall health.
Some good combinations include orange, apple and ginger, watermelon, grape and pear, pineapple and orange, and lemon, lime and ginger. If you’re at a loss as to which flavor to try, ask your friendly local juicer (or café). Once you tell them which type of taste you like (sweet/sour), they can recommend a flavor.
Note: If you’re on any medication, avoid using grapefruit in any of your juices. Grapefruit can interfere with medications. Check with your GP or medical practitioner if you’re unsure if your medications react to grapefuit.
Don’t: Assume that alcohol is hydrating
Who doesn’t enjoy a cool cocktail on a balmy summer afternoon? But keep in mind that irrespective of how many Pina Coladas you consume, they’re not actually keeping you hydrated. In fact, they’re dehydrating you.
During summertime it’s especially crucial to stay well hydrated. On non-exercise days, you should consume two litres of water. If you’re sweating or have exercised that day, try to drink another litre.
The best liquid to keep you hydrated is, and probably always will be, water. If you’re not a fan of drinking plain water, add a splice of lemon or lime. Lemon will help detoxify and alkalize the body, so it’s a good hydrating double act.
Remember too, that feeling thirsty is actually a late warning sign of dehydration so sip regularly throughout the day instead of gulping down water whenever thirst accost you.
Don’t: Be a hero on warm weather days
Even if you’re the most experienced runner, boxer, skipper or walker, attempting to complete your regular workout during hot weather can be a recipe for disaster.
To decrease your risk of suffering from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, try to exercise first thing in the morning, or early in the evening when the temperature has dipped.
If you can’t avoid a midday run, make sure you keep your water on hand and sip (not gulp) regularly. Also keep an eye out for muscle weakness, dizziness, a fast heartbeat or profuse sweating, as all of these can be early warning signs of heat exhaustion. If any of these symptoms occur and don’t disappear after 30 minutes, call a doctor.
Don’t: Be a mosquitoes next meal
One of the disadvantages of summertime is that annoying, irritating and angry mosquitoes come out to play. And while a small bite might not be cause for concern, with the rising rates of disease-ridden mosquitoes it’s becoming more and more important to prevent, rather than treat, mosquito bites.
A good tip is to apply mosquito repellant before going outdoors. You can also wear clothing that protects your body (long sleeves and pants) where possible, and stay indoors during dusk and dawn, which is when mosquitoes are particularly ravenous.
If you have been bitten, apply calamine lotion and an ice pack. Keep the area clean and watch out for symptoms such as skin rashes, vomiting, nausea, fever and headaches. If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor.
Don’t: Pull too many all-nighters
It can be all too tempting to ditch your regular bedtime in favor of late-night socializing when the weather is warmer and the sun graces us with its presence for longer.
But while the days and nights may feel different, it doesn’t make any difference to your body. Your body still needs a solid eight hours sleep. It also needs sleep that is high quality, restorative and energizing.
The peak sleep times are between 10pm and 2pm. This is the prime time for your body to repair itself, unwind and rejuvenate. If you stay out partying until 12, you’ll miss out on these restorative two hours and over a long period of time, your body will suffer.
Stick to your regular bedtime routines and play catch up if you miss a few hours here and there.
Don’t: Forget to enjoy the moment
Sometimes it can be easy to ignore the here and now when we have an array of distractions fighting for our attention. From capturing a picture of that breathtaking sunset, to updating your status on Facebook, distractions are both varied and plentiful. But it’s important to realize that taking photos and checking out your social media and isn’t actually interacting with the world around you.
While you’re focused on who is doing what on Facebook, you could be missing out on what’s happening in this very moment. So take a break from social media and even from taking photographs.
Instead, take a mental photograph and savor the moment. Pay attention to the sounds, smells and sights around you. Give your companion your full, undiluted attention.
And remember, all you have is right now. This moment. You aren’t reliving yesterday and tomorrow hasn’t arrived. All you have is now.
So what are you going to do with your ‘now’?
And finally, as a last summer health tip, try to be kind to you. Too often we get caught up in what’s wrong – with ourselves, with our appearance and even with our circumstances.
But this summer, make an effort to focus on what’s right. Appreciate the things about yourself that are amazing and unique. And value those around you.