Take it easy this summer!

Most of us Southwest Floridians know – and appreciate – the relative slow pace of summers in our region.

We have far fewer visitors and tourists. Our school and work schedules are lessen, some by a little, some by a lot. The weather is always wonderful (if no storms threaten). It’s a big secret we tend to keep from our northern friends that summers in Southwest Florida are absolutely delightful.

The cooling, gentle sea breeze is a near constant feature. Even the afternoon rains can sweeten the outside and give us time for pause.

So, maybe, just how do we relax and take it easy in the summer?

If the idea perplexes you, we have help! Joanna Tovia, an Australian journalist and photographer who specializes in travel and living well, has some nice tips and perspectives to help us take stock.

“Welcome home,” she suggests, right off the top. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of opening your front door, dumping your bag and kicking off your shoes after a day out. You have the whole evening to spend as you please because you — on purpose — have said no to busyness.”

And she offers a tip:

“Turn off your Wi-Fi, put your phone on flight mode and plant yourself on the couch. You can do some coloring, flick through a cookbook or lose yourself in a page turner.”

Take it easy this summer! Other suggestions include:

  • Sensory upload. Most people spend the majority of their time indoors. But the benefits of taking in the sights and sounds of nature — even if just down at the local park — have been proved time and again by scientists.
  • Streamlined living. Rushing is the new normal, but in 2017, I’m going to say no to that. Instead, I’m looking to slow the pace and increase my enjoyment.
  • Nourish and nurture. If you think of your day as being broken up into thirds, what you’d like to prioritize becomes crystal clear. About eight hours is dedicated to sleep, eight more to work, and the rest is yours to do with what you will.
  • Practice gratitude. We’re programmed to want to earn more each year, progress up the career ladder and acquire the things we covet. But what if, even just for this year, you take a breather and say, “I have enough; I am enough”?
  • Slowly does it. It can take practice to build breathing space into your life. The idea is to make downtime as appealing as possible. Don’t just take a bath, for example — soak in an aromatic bubble bath with a candle or two and some ultrasoothing music by your side, or with an ice-cold beer, if that tickles your fancy. Whatever works.
  • Meaningful connections. Squeezing in a quick coffee break with a friend shouldn’t be a challenge, but packed schedules and commitments often mean it is. What if, instead, you planned ahead for an unhurried get-together over lunch with the people you like most or would love to get to know better?
  • Worthy weekends. Right now I’m spending time thinking through what I genuinely need to do on weekends so that any free time I have can be value-packed with things I love, rather than just packed.
  • Finances on autopilot. The more money we make, the more we tend to spend — that’s just human nature. If you’re not a budgeter or naturally frugal, at least put as much of your income as you can into savings every time you get paid.
  • Stop … in the name of love. Saying what we feel, showing that we care, spending quality time — these are things we often wish we’d done more of when crisis strikes and we lose someone we love.
  • House into home. In the spirit of Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo’s KonMari method (she encourages keeping only what sparks joy in your home), I vote that 2017 be all about getting in touch with the person we really are and what we really love, and reflecting those values, quirks and favorite things in our homes.
  • Go gently forth. Living a more relaxed life doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. Determining what you want has a habit of putting the wheels in motion and setting you on a path to eventually achieve your goal without undue pressure.

Featured photo (at top) by Haley Phelps

Beach photo by Ryan Loughlin

Read Tovia’s full piece, including tips: