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8 Ways to have a HAPPY summer

As soon as winter is over and spring arrives, it usually feels like we can breathe again (except for those of you who love winter (weirdos!). Summer is the season I look forward to the most each year because it is all about fun, freedom, holiday vibes and no scarves and boots. Unfortunately, my summers haven’t always been as great as I wanted it them be. It was probably due to the fact that I was still in a bad mental space carrying over a previous season’s baggage or perhaps that summer just didn’t live up to my expectations. But whose fault is that? Did I allow it to happen or even create bad experiences because I did not clean up my mental space for a new season? This year, I don’t just want summer to be a nice season, I want it to be one of the happiest summers I’ve ever had. After a long and challenging year, I want to have a summer where I actually DO the things that refill my cup, light up my eyes and fuel me with hope and happiness for next year. When we’ve been drained of all the goodness of life due to the hardships, we need to put ourselves first again, in order to have a full and beautiful life in our future.

Here are a few ideas to try out this summer to ensure it will be one for the books:

1. Make a list of things you would like to do (in advance).
If you are like me, you always have ideas of what you want to do when you have some time off. Then my day off arrives and I just can’t think of anything that I’ve been wanting to do for so long. My off day usually just ends up in binge-watching a series I have probably seen before. That can make me feel like it was a day wasted because I didn’t do something fun, inspiring or time worthy. Make a list on your phone or in a diary of activities you’d like to do, places you’d like to visit, shops or restaurants and bars you want to go to. Then when your off day comes, you can go see new places and experience things that you don’t always get to do. It doesn’t mean you must book every day full of activities, it’s just handy when you want to do something, but don’t know what exactly.

2. Be present in the moment
With today’s busy lifestyle, we don’t always appreciate the moments we are in, until they are in the past. This summer, breathe in the fresh air, look your loved ones in the eyes when you’re having a conversation and switch off your phone or tablet for a while. Reduce distractions and stop thinking about the next activity, day or experience and enjoy the moment you are currently in.

3. Make it happen yourself
If we’d have to wait for the rest of the world to make things happen for us, we would most likely always be disappointed. Not everyone has the courage or initiative to make plans and get things going. Be the one to arrange a picnic or a braai, invite friends or family on excursions and go have fun. Be the fun you want to have.

4. Find the good in each day
Yes, life is not always wonderful, and even a season like summer will have its ups and downs (with rain and sunshine), but we have the power to see the beauty in everything. One of the hardest things can be switching your negative thoughts off and seeing all the positivity in a day. But that is what summer is all about – new life, warmth, energy and fun. Use this summer to train your brain to shake off the negative and dwell in the positive.

5. Relax to the max
To have many plans is great, but to have a few days of total relaxation is even greater. Sometimes that really is all you need. Stay in your PJs till noon, lie on a lilo in the pool, chill in front of the TV watching your favourite movies or order in so you don’t have to cook. Whatever floats your boat, as long as you are just floating for a bit. Your batteries also need to recharge in that way. The expectations we place on ourselves constantly is also one of the ways we exhaust ourselves. Give yourself a break, you deserve it.

6. Get those endorphins pumping
I know not everyone likes exercising, but it is truly a game changer in so many aspects, for your body and your mental health. The important thing to remember is that it should be something you like. Exercise doesn’t always have to be an intense CrossFit session or a long-distance run to count. Find something that is easy and fun for you. Make sure you get the blood flowing, break a sweat and get your heart rate up. That is the key.

7. Forgive yourself and others
Forgiveness is something all of us have needed at some point in our lives. Mercy can free us, but it isn’t something that we always find easily. We hold grudges against others and worse, against ourselves. Take this new season and set yourself and others free from the mistakes that were made. Show love and mercy, there is enough hate in this world already. You never know when you might need it. Remember, you reap what you sow and pride has never brought people together. Let it go and find peace and joy in forgiving others. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings because nobody is perfect. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

8. Get into nature as much as you can
Our bodies and souls are actually linked to the earth, that’s how we experience life. Your senses are heightened according to the weather, the foods you eat and what time of the day it is. Spend time in nature to reconnect your soul as often as you can. Whether it is the beach, forest, berg, highveld, Karoo, any place that lights your soul on fire, go there. We are all so busy with technology and living in the city most of the time that we don’t experience new environments often enough. If you are not a nature person, find a space that you can tolerate for a while just to breathe in some fresh air. Watch the sunrise, watch the sunset, listen to the rain, feel the wind and soak up the sun. Mother nature is waiting in all her glory for you.

I have found that it’s the small things in life that mean the most. Don’t miss out on them. Build your blocks of life and refill your cup with anything and everything that is good for you. Create more beauty in your life by living and loving to the fullest. If you could go back in time I’m sure you would do a few things differently but unfortunately you can’t go back, you can only create a beautiful future. What better time to start than in this present season where life is warm and inviting? Hello summer, I’m ready for you!