The halcyon days of summer are ripe with carefree ease: sunlight lingers like an old friend; long work weeks are interspersed with seaside escapes; and time outdoors is sacred. A recent trip to the farmers market had me gushing over garlic cloves and handpicked peaches as a I strolled between the stalls, not wanting to miss a single bite.
A few weeks ago, I took in a meteor shower and counted constellations, roasted marshmallows around the campfire and laughed with loved ones. Today, I marveled at a duck swimming laps around the pond of a favorite park, bobbing its beak in and out of the water to the beat of a silent drum.
Last month, I got a bird’s eye view of the city as I played tourist in my new town. I hiked alongside the ocean on Whidbey Island. I ambled through a field of lavender and a garden of resplendent dahlias.
I’ve seen so much and so little, my sun-kissed skin one of the few remaining vestiges of days gone by. As September approaches and we squeeze out final pool days and picnics, I can’t help but wonder how the months have passed so quickly.
While our toes are in the sand, our minds are free to flit and flutter. Perhaps you find yourself reflecting on a conversation from days ago or an earlier morning’s exchange. As you absorb the new page-turner you’ve just picked up, how often do you notice your thoughts drifting to an upcoming deadline or impending decision?
Whether summer’s last stretch has you traveling far and wide or taking in the scenery of your own surroundings, the following is a practice that can help you stay present when your mind begins to wander.
Embrace Your Surroundings
Start by asking how you can be there for yourself right now. Take a moment to notice where you are: use your senses to envelop the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Allow yourself to get lost in each sensation you observe.
Revise Your Narrative
Gently remind yourself that your worries are transient. What stories do they tell? Is there evidence to support them? Is the narrative a familiar one? Some common themes include feelings of inferiority, jealousy, envy, or guilt; fears about the future; and regrets about the past.
Show Yourself Compassion
Practice self- compassion 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.” You might consider writing down your message and keeping it with you as a reminder.
Define Your Needs
Ask yourself what you’re needing in the moment. Slow down, take a break, or find an enjoyable distraction to put your mind at ease. You might choose to write about what you’re feeling or talk it over with someone. Trust yourself to meet your needs without reservation.
Human connection is a powerful antidote and emotional pain reliever. Ask yourself who 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.
Cultivate Your Strengths
Finally, ask yourself how you can use this opportunity to tap into your strengths. What brings you joy? How can you use your gifts to alleviate some of the tension you’re experiencing? Draw, sing, dance, read, cook, swim, laugh, share, run, stretch, breathe. Let yourself surrender to 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.