Around this time of year, it is not at all unusual for me to experience a little dip in vitality. I find myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning, lagging in energy during the day, and generally less motivated than usual. It may be the hotter temperatures that make me feel a little lazy, the fact that the kids are out of school and I’m working even harder to multitask, or just the extended-vacation mindset that seems to cause a total system shutdown. Whatever the explanation for the dip, I’ve been employing some strategies this summer that have helped to lift me out of my funk:
1. Stay hydrated
As simple as this sounds, dehydration can be the major culprit in feeling totally lethargic during the dog days of summer. Not only are we running around in the heat, but we may be slurping down dehydrating beverages like coffee to keep going, and socializing over cold beers and margaritas at summer gatherings. Travel and hotter temps can also dry us out, and the disconnection from our normal daily routine may result in less attention to the water we’re drinking. This summer, I’ve been working hard to carry my 25-oz (the largest size) S’well bottle with me wherever I go and refill it throughout the day. When I start feeling the urge to munch on unhealthy snacks or to have that after-5 glass of wine, I first reach for my water bottle. I find that, very often, the simple act of quenching my thirst stops me from needing the other things. Overall, my energy has felt higher just from the introduction of extra water to my daily routine.
2. Whittle down portion sizes
For me, the goal here has nothing to do with weight loss (but it’s not a bad side effect if that’s your goal!) I am one of those people who just loves to eat and will pretty much devour whatever is on the plate in front of me. From an energetic standpoint, overeating always sends me into the classic food coma that saps me of all motivation and creativity. Over the last couple of months I’ve been trying to eat smaller portions at more frequent intervals. I know this advice is nothing new in the world of nutrition, but I’m mentioning it here because of its profound effect on helping to maintain vitality throughout the day. When we eat out, the portions are almost always far more than my body needs. I try to eat half and take the rest home. I tell myself that, if I’m still hungry when I get home, I can finish the rest right then and there. I’ve never once had to do this and I’m always glad I waited!
3. Take a refreshing bath
The soothing, yet invigorating effect of a nice bath is a whole new discovery for me! Our family went away on vacay earlier in the month, and those blissful hot tub sessions while the kids splashed around in the pool were the highlight of my every day! While I’m not able to access the hot tub daily at home, I’ve found that a nice bath is the perfect alternative. I’ve especially loved experimenting with a handful of wonderful ways to enhance my bath experience, from sea salt blends (especially those from SkinLove and Twig + Birdie) to pure essential oils. For me, taking just a 15-minute bath is like hitting my reset button. I emerge feeling grounded, refreshed and almost magically re-motivated. If you have access to pure essential oils, I recommend adding the following blend to your bath for an instant uplift:
6 drops lemon oil
6 drops geranium oil
3 drops rosemary oil
3 drops peppermint oil
3 drops juniper oil
4. Revive with yoga
Back when life wasn’t nearly as busy, I did yoga on an almost-daily basis. Not only was my body in the best shape of my life, but I can remember springing out of bed in the mornings and a certain mental clarity that has, as my yoga practice has waned, given way to a bit of a fog (no doubt exacerbated by increased life responsibilities!) It’s easy to let your yoga practice slip as life gets busy, and then it becomes hard to get back to it due to not only a hectic schedule, but fear of the physical and mental challenge.
Two things have really helped me in recent months: 1) I discovered the app YogaGlo. I LOVE this app as an easy alternative to going to the studio. Now, don’t get me wrong—nothing, in my opinion, beats doing your yoga with a group in an inspiring setting. But, when life is crazy and the only time you have to do your yoga is between 5 and 6 in the morning, YogaGlo is the way to go. It has literally thousands of classes for different levels, durations and styles, all taught by outstanding instructors. 2) I’ve given myself permission to listen to my body and respect where I’m at in my life. Instead of requiring myself to push past my limits during every practice, I vary my practices between moderate and advanced (I’ve been at it for a while), and even sprinkle in restorative classes when that’s what I’m feeling. And while I used to consistently practice for at least an hour each time, now I choose 30- or even 15-minute classes when that’s all I am able to allocate. I can’t tell you how bringing back my yoga has elevated my physical energy and mental clarity!
5. Find some puppy love
If you know me personally, you’re probably getting a good giggle out of this! I am the woman who swore she would never get a pet, regardless of my kids’ protestations. Not that I don’t think puppies and kittens are adorable, but my life is soooo full that the thought of the added responsibility had, until recently, always made me put my foot down. And then the whole Ft. Lauderdale thing happened. Many of you know that my family and I got caught up in the airport shooting earlier this year—a horrific, traumatizing experience for all of us. Tommy Twinkle was, and continues to be, our salvation.
Not only was our new little yorkie-ton a diversion at the time following the incident, but he has grown to become a full-blown family member whom we all practically fight over to cuddle and play with. The first thing we all do in the morning is go in search of Tommy for snuggles. At night, I can’t wait to lift him onto the bed and curl up with him. He has literally reinvigorated all of us. And he has also forced us to open ourselves to new and fun experiences. We spend more time outdoors than ever, discover new restaurants regularly that have outdoor seating so we can bring him along, and expand our circle by befriending other dog owners. My general joie de vivre has increased immensely since getting this little cuddle-bug!
6. Spend time in the kitchen
Sometimes rediscovering your motivation comes from cultivating a skill or hobby that has nothing to do with your normal life responsibilities. Cooking more at home is still a goal I’m working on, and summertime brings so many fun and inspiring reasons to get back into the kitchen. Nothing beats going to the farmer’s market to check out the local selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, etc., and then coming home to creatively integrate these finds into something delicious for dinner. When I discover a great recipe, I literally become energized—I spend the day looking forward to finding and playing with the ingredients. To top it off, I try to make the preparation of the meal a fun experience by letting the kids help, or sometimes sending them into the other room to play so I can get some alone time with good music and a nice glass of wine!
7. Plan a mini-vacay
Although it’s not something I’m able to do every month, there is simply nothing that beats the reinvigorating experience of a mini-vacation. I say “mini” because, with all of life’s demands at home, it’s not always feasible to escape on an exotic, extended vacation. The mini-vacay, on the other hand, can be as simple as a staycation that consists of taking off several days right at home and totally “checking out.” One of our favorite ways to get away for a short time frame is to vacation close to home in French Lick, or just slightly farther away in Chicago. Recharging my batteries often requires that I take a few days off, out of my normal setting. I don’t have to do anything particularly exciting, just get out of my daily routine. Disrupting the norm by simply eating at new restaurants, going for walks in a new setting, or perusing different boutiques is often all I need to revive my spirit. We’ve already taken several family trips this summer, and my general sense of burnout is much lower than in previous, more stationary years. We’ve learned as a family that a little can go a long way, and budget and time restrictions never need to become an excuse to refrain from doing the “vacay” thing.
8. Do a wardrobe revamp
Taking the time to review the contents of my closet is well worth the feeling of total renewal that follows. When things are cleaner and less cluttered, our spirits just feel freer. A wardrobe analysis and revamp also requires us to summon up an attitude of intention. We have to invest our energy in analyzing ourselves and finding clarity about who we are and what we want to project. I always end up feeling motivated by the process of self-analysis required to hone my look. Trust me, by the time you’re done revamping your closet, it’s nearly impossible to walk around in a “slump.” Working on your “look” is a fun and very rewarding way to recoup your joie de vivre!
I’ve blogged at greater length about this in previous months, but it can be extremely invigorating to experiment with letting a part of yourself that was previously hidden begin to shine through. Do you have an alter ego that’s been playing second fiddle? Is there someone you admire who you consider your opposite? Why not play with bringing a bit of that flavor into your own look and life? I, for instance, have for several years modeled a “sporty-chic” wardrobe, consisting largely of yoga pants and casual studio-to-street pieces. This look is a great reflection of my laid-back mindset, yet physically-active life. Recently, however, I’ve noticed myself saving and practically salivating over pictures of chic-looking French women. I love everything from their hairdos to perfect red lips to skinny jeans-and-blazer polish. So, rather than departing from my comfy activewear, I’ve simply played around with introducing more denim and some very comfy French terry blazers into my look. (I also got a cute French bob haircut recently—never underestimate the reinvigorating power of a new hairdo!.)
I’ve made it a daily goal for myself to try to pay attention to the things that energize me. I also try to be continually conscious of my energy level, and proactive about doing whatever I can—regardless of life challenges or workload—to build reenergizing practices into my life. I suggest taking a little bit of time to make your own list of activities that elevate you. Then, make a wholehearted commitment to yourself to use your list like a collection of vitamins you take for your soul! After a while, feeling good on a regular basis will be a breeze…