Empowerment Through Self Awareness
Just what is a soulful summer? Remember the summer vacations of the past where we giggled as we played with our friends, ran around in bare feet past the setting of the sun? Maybe we read a book, lay back in the grass and watched the clouds form a shape, tried our hand at baseball and made new friends at vacation camp. Those times you remember from summers long ago are clues to what feeds your soul.
Every time we invest in a soulful moment, we reduce our stress level, and since stress is a factor in heart attacks, cancer and other illness, we should experience soulful moments as often as possible. Here are some activities to feed your soul, structured for those of us who feel we have no time:
Read a good book – Wash up for bed twenty minutes early so you can curl up with a good book. Choose something that makes you feel good (an English mystery, a heartwarming tale about your favorite animals, history of your ancestors) and if you fall asleep after a few minutes, know you probably needed to. If you are like me, once you get into it, you’ll be reading it while standing on line at the pharmacy, etc. Suddenly you will find time to read a little bit more.
Catch up with an old friend – or a new one. If friends are close by, get together. Busy schedule? Make it twenty minutes at the coffee shop, or forty-five minutes while walking the neighborhood. If your friends are across the country or the globe, phone calls and Skype keep us in touch. Sharing, laughing, listening, connecting. These are soulful acts!
Spend time in nature – Go to the farmer’s market, city park or arboretum for an hour. Sit in the back yard and listen to the wind blow the leaves. Use all your senses to experience nature. Not only will you be in the moment (great for reducing stress), but also you might find a frog’s hiding spot (I did). If you don’t have a back yard, and aren’t near the park, bring nature to you. A houseplant, a terrarium with snails or a gold fish bowl will do the trick as long as you focus on them.
Exercise – If you don’t love a sport you might need to trick yourself into this one. A tango lesson is exercise, and so is gardening. Rescue a dog and commit to walking it as a way to combine two soulful acts. Consider your personality and the condition of your present health. Choose enjoyable, easily attainable goals and reward yourself with one slightly more challenging when a goal is reached. The number one goal is letting you know you care about yourself, feeling good right down to the core of your being, so don’t focus on “personal bests” unless that makes you feel good.
Take a vacation – If you have a full schedule, lots of local responsibilities or a tight budget a vacation can seem impossible. But vacations are about changing your perspective and your routine. A weekend getaway, staying (or swapping) with a friend, or a day trip to a local attraction can supply the soulful pick-me-up that comes from a break in “the norm”. So be creative about what “vacation” means and challenge yourself to take a break on your terms.
Whatever you do, keep it stress free. I know I can find twenty minutes once a week to read a book. And…I set the timer, because the chatter in my head would have me off folding laundry otherwise. This twenty minutes is my gift to me, and it is amazing how quickly my mood lightens, and I am feeling more creative, and am better able to listen to others. Know your limits and honor them – time, money, physical health all need to be respected or you’ll add stress instead of diminishing it. Choose things that you feel compelled to do, and things that are out of the norm for you (change your brain patterns) to give sustenance to the physical, emotional, mental and energetic YOU.
Feel free to give me feedback about what you chose, why, and how it made you feel. Happy, soulful summer to you!