“Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.” – Victor Hugo
Summer can bring about a carefree ease like no other season can: the days are longer, work hours are shorter, vacations are frequent, and time outdoors is cherished. By September, as we squeeze out final pool days and picnics, we wonder where the months have gone.
While our minds are free to flit and flutter, they’re far from stress-free. Even the most enticing escapes can bring out our worries and anxieties. Our toes are in the sand, but our minds are often elsewhere.
You might find yourself reflecting on a conversation from days ago or an earlier morning’s exchange. Or perhaps as you try to absorb the juicy page-turner you’ve just picked up, your mind begins drifting to an upcoming deadline, unfinished project, or impending decision.
Whether your summer roster has you traveling far and wide, or simply taking in the scenery of your own surroundings, this is a practice that can help you stay present when your unleashed mind begins to wander down worry lane.
Start by asking how you can be there for yourself right now. Maybe you can take a moment to notice where you are, and gently remind yourself that your worries only exist in your mind. Or, begin by uttering a few words of reassurance to yourself such as, “It’s ok, I’m here for you,” or, “I don’t want you to worry about this right now.”
Next, ask yourself what you’re needing. Do you need to slow down or take a break? Maybe you need an enjoyable distraction to put your mind at ease. You might need to write about what you’re feeling or talk it over with someone.
Human connection is a powerful medicine and a potent emotional pain reliever. Ask yourself whom you can reach out to. It might be a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger. Whether or not you choose to share your troubles is up to you, but simply being in someone else’s company can help you step out of your head and back into the world around you.
Finally, ask yourself how you can use this opportunity to tap into your strengths. What are you good at? What brings you joy? How can you use your gifts to help alleviate some of the tension you’re experiencing? Draw, sing, dance, read, cook, create, swim, dive, dine, laugh, share, photograph, run, stretch, breathe. Let yourself get lost in whatever makes you feel alive.
Like all of our days, summer’s are best fully savored. We owe it to ourselves and those around us to tune into them with deep awareness, even as the past and future compete for our present moment attention. Catch fireflies. Cook out. Sleep under the stars. And let your mind come with you.