5 Health Hacks To Keep Your Wellbeing On Track This Summer

Keep Your Wellbeing On Track This Summer With These 5 Health Hacks

Don't waste your time off, use it!

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Summertime is here, and for many of us, these three months of vacation mean more room for slacking off with our usual health routines. Between sleeping in through the morning gym alarm, and consuming too many tempting party foods and drinks, it is easy to fall into a euphoria of laziness and lose health as a top priority.

Here's the good news — believe it or not, summer is actually the easiest time of the year to get and stay in killer shape because of all of the extra time you have!

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

1. Try using the five-to-two rule.

It's easy to forget the difference between weekdays and weekends during summer when every day feels the same. But sometimes it is actually helpful to be aware of what day of the week it is. Just like you would do in school, try to stay on track during weekdays. Wake up at a reasonable time, exercise, find ways to be productive throughout the day, and be conscious of eating healthy. This way when the weekend rolls around, if you choose to indulge in sleeping in, or going out and having a few extra drinks, it's more acceptable than choosing to do so every single night. You will feel more in control, and trust me, your body will thank you for the moderation.

2. Skip the junk food and embrace the fresh seasonal produce.

Summer is the season where all of the nutrient-dense fruits and veggies are in their prime season. Take advantage of this! Skip the fast food, and try cooking since you now cannot use the excuse that you don't have time! Go to the grocery to stock up on fresh produce. There is nothing better than homemade, healthy food, and with so much time on your hands why not try some fun new recipes? Cooking is actually really enjoyable and rewarding. Here are some of my favorite healthy summertime recipes that keep my body feeling fresh and energized.

Healthy green smoothie

Quinoa Salad

Chia Pudding

Salmon and Apple Kale Salad

3. If you're tired of the gym, try alternative forms of exercise. 

Whether it is hiking, kayaking, swimming, or playing a family game of kickball, summer presents you with many more fun active opportunities than the colder, rainier months of the year. Take advantage of that if you are getting bored or unmotivated sitting in a stuffy gym.

4. Build a new routine.

During the school year, we all fall into a fairly consistent routine. We have classes at the same time every week, we have responsibilities, deadlines, and all of those other things that may seem pesky but actually, serve in giving our lives some major structure. For many of us, that structure is much needed. When summer arrives and suddenly we don't have those obligations calling us to get up and be productive, we fall into a slump of doing nothing. That's when it is helpful to set a new routine. Our bodies like routine and regularity and the best part about a summer routine is that you set it how you like it.

How do I build a new routine? Decide on a general bed and wake up time, at least for weekdays. Choose which days of the week you will exercise and stick to them! Plan out your week at the beginning of the week. I like to keep a weekly calendar. Before the week begins I write down all of the things I would like to get done that week and place them on the days I plan to do them. You can even write down your plans with friends or social events.

5.. In general, spend time outside.

Did you know that spending time in the sunshine and fresh air actually has an impact on your health? Nature can boost our moods, make us feel more energized and productive. And everyone knows that a healthy mindset leads to a healthier life. The great thing about summer is that we have endless opportunities to be outside because of the close weather. You can really take almost any activity you want and move it outside. Even as I sit here writing this blog I am sitting outside on our beautiful porch looking out over a lake.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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The Things Nobody Told Me About Depression, But I Really Wish Somebody Would Have

I was diagnosed with depression six months ago. These are some of the things that I wish I had known sooner.

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There are a ton of things about having depression that no one will tell you. For example, something that no one ever told me about depression is that I have it.

I was diagnosed with depression in December of 2018 - just six months ago. But my therapist tells me that, based on what I've said about my mental state, I've likely had depression since elementary school, if not earlier.

The fact that I've had depression for so long and not know about it only goes to show how easy it is for one to live with mental health issues and never know it.

The fact that I apparently developed depression at such an early age only goes to show that mental health issues do not exclusively affect people only after they have lived and experienced all that life can throw at them.

The fact that I have had a pretty good life - a loving family, success in academics, never experiencing severe poverty - only goes to show that mental health issues are not always caused by shitty life experiences and traumas.

These are all things that no one ever told me about depression, and things that I never knew until I got to college and took a psychology class focused on mental health issues.

I did not know that depression can hide for years without you ever knowing about it.

I did not know that depression can manifest even in young children.

I did not know that depression can affect even those living happy lives.

These are things no one tells you about depression.

These are things that I had to learn by myself, and things that I am still learning how to compromise with the reality of my own life experience.

It's no one person's fault that I didn't know these things, it was the fault of a societal system that didn't know it needed to be concerned with such things. The early 2000s, when my young brain was developing and learning how to cope with the world, were not exactly focused on mental health in children. By the time people realized that children were suffering from depression and anxiety at earlier and earlier ages, I had already been living with my own issues for years, and I thought that my experiences and interpretations of the world around me was normal - that this was how everybody felt, that this was all normal. I didn't think that the symptoms that our counselors and teachers warned about at the beginning of each school year applied to me.

Nobody told me that depression isn't always sadness and crying.

Nobody told me that sometimes depression is a creeping grey numbness that clouds your brain. That sometimes it is a blurring and a muting of your emotions until you feel nothing at all. That such nothingness is worse than any level of sadness you would ever feel.

Nobody told me that depression isn't constant.

Nobody told me that I would have good days amid the bad ones. That every now and then, a day in a week or a day in a month or a day in a blue moon, I would have all of my emotions sharp and bright and my smiles would be as soft as they were genuine and I would relish the taste of the air around me. That these good days don't invalidate the bad days and mean that I don't have depression after all.

Nobody told me that once I was diagnosed with depression it would simultaneously feel like a weight had been lifted and like a punch to the gut all at once.

Nobody told me the relief that I would feel at the explanation and the knowledge that I might not always have to live like this. That I would also feel my understanding of my life flipped upside down, because if the way I have been experiencing the world is because of a disease, then what does that mean for the validity of my life and who I am?

Nobody told me that there would be a part of me that feared to get better, because who would I be without depression? Without this parasite that has somehow been such a constant throughout my life?

Nobody told me that I would begin to question which parts of my personality are "real" and which parts of me are the depression?

And if those two things can even be separate? And if so, will I ever be able to say I am better, if these parts of me developed through depression are still a part of me once I am "recovered"?

Nobody told me how scary that thought would be.

But what people have told me is that recovery is possible. They have told me that life gets better. That those good days that I used to find - unexpected yet welcome - could become my normal day. That I can be my own person, separate from my depression, and I can grow stronger, and happier, and more vibrant and more driven and MORE.

These are the things that people have told me, and these are the things that I remind myself of.

Nobody told me how lonely depression can be, but I hope that this article might make you feel a little less alone, and a little more prepared, and a little more understood.

I am not an expert. I still do not know everything, and my experience is my own, and in no way represents a majority or speaks on behalf of everyone out there suffering from depression. But I know now that I am not alone in my own experiences, and I hope that whoever is reading this, if you need it, maybe now you can know that you are not alone in yours.

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