Summer calls for carefree days at the beach, long evenings spent outdoors, and a break from day-to-day responsibilities. But during some of those hours spent on the sun lounger, you can make space for enjoyable activities that can also enrich your summer holidays and teach you something new—so that you are ready to enter the autumn season and get back to work and your routines feeling relaxed but also inspired.
This isn’t about having a to-do list or trying to optimize your productivity during your time off, but rather using the extra down time to finally try one of the activities on your bucket list, read your favorite author’s latest book, or explore the mindfulness practice you couldn’t find time for at home. These are the kind of experiences that will bring you fun and joy, but also help you get back in touch with your inner self.
Holidays, and summers in general, are about taking a step back from our professional personas or daily routines and trying new things, with an open mind and a hefty amount of curiosity. Those new experiences ultimately are a source of entertainment, but also an invaluable opportunity to learn something new about yourself and bring those lessons back home.
I, for one, could have never imagined myself braving a snowy slope, until my best friend encouraged me to take a snowboarding lesson during our trip to the Austrian Alps. It led me to discover an adventurous, athletic version of myself I didn’t know existed––and, since then, I’m a lot more confident to sign up for different gym classes and team activities back home.
Make room for this kind of experiences by setting aside some time before your holiday to brainstorm. In your notebook––it’s always worth keeping one especially for dreams and bucket lists––write down everything you’ve been curious about trying this summer. Without thinking about it too much, jot down anything that comes to mind, be it a big sailing adventure or a single podcast episode you want to listen to and learn from.
Once you have everything noted down, do some research and make a plan to integrate some of those experiences into your holiday plans. It can be as simple as going to your nearest bookstore to buy the book you’ve had your eye on, or doing a quick online research on the best water ski instructors at your chosen holiday destination and booking a class. The choices are endless, but no matter what you choose, making some time to consciously choose how you want to spend your free time and make a plan will only make you more excited for your time off.
Here are some recommendations to spark new ideas and get you started.
The podcast app on our phones is filled with a wealth of information, from educational information on any industry you might be interested in, to humorous chats between friends and life-changing interviews by some of the world’s greatest thinkers, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
There’s no better time to engage with this content than during our downtime in the summer: you can listen to a podcast during your flight to a sunny destination, while waiting at the airport––a guaranteed way to make delays less frustrating––or during a summer evening walk. The only effort required is browsing your podcast app to find the shows you are most interested in and downloading the episodes that catch your eye. Whether you’re interested in food, fashion, or self-development, there’s an array of newly-launched content to choose from, as well as old favorites worth relistening to.
If you are looking for recommendations, some great picks include ‘The Diary of a CEO’ where some of the world’s most successful business owners and thinkers share their journeys and life advice; or author Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ show which reframes the concept of failure by asking guests to share three failures, the lessons they learnt from each, and how they pushed them closer to success.
‘The Ikonns’ show, by Intelligent Change founders Mimi and Alex Ikonn is another inspiring resource where Mimi and Alex share intimate and above all, unfiltered, conversations on business, self-development, and life in general. I plan to re-listen to their episode on the power of visualization with the world-renown real estate agent Santiago Arana–– a powerful conversation about taking ownership of your life––as well as the one on social media addiction and tips to overcome it.
Summer and time away from work offers a great opportunity to disconnect from technology, even for a little bit, and become more mindful of the present moment. Reading a good book can be a fast track to mindfulness as it immerses you into another world and helps quiet down the noise in your head, while at the same time educating and inspiring you––it’s a clear win-win.
There have been a number of exciting new releases this summer, such as Rebecca Humphries’ ‘Why Did you Stay?’ which tackles self-worth, or Ana Kinsella’s ‘Look Here’ which talks about the joys of city life, with its chance encounters and endless opportunities for people watching and voyeurism. You can also pick up a book in a language you’re trying to learn, revisit classics like Eckhart Tolle’s ‘Power of Now’, or choose an education book on a topic you want to learn more about. We highly recommend the ‘Glucose Revolution’ by Jessie Inchauspé, which offers invaluable science-backed information about how our bodies operate and what we need to be eating.
Nothing can make you feel more centered than getting out of your head and putting your thoughts and emotions on paper. This type of journaling practice is a tool that is necessary in day-to-day life, but during the summer, when life gets a bit slower, you can spend a little extra time with yourself to write about your current life circumstances, your dreams, worries, and anything else that pops to your head.
There’s nothing more therapeutic than waking up early on a summer day, enjoying the peace and quiet around you and free writing––all this experience requires is a good notebook, some questions to reflect on, and perhaps a cup of tea or coffee to wake you up.
If long form journaling isn’t for you, keeping up with your Five Minute Journal is equally valuable. The slower pace of summer days means you could spend a few extra minutes each day thinking about what you are writing about and everything you feel grateful for. Pro Tip? If you’re traveling light and don’t want to carry your journal with you, just download the digital app that allows you to keep your daily journaling practice in your pocket.
Summer is usually the time we allow ourselves to explore new aspects of our personalities, we might wear brighter, carefree clothing we don’t usually wear in our day-to-day lives and often turn into more relaxed, playful versions of ourselves. This leaves plenty of room for new adventures and experiences, so push yourself to try new activities and embrace the playful, childlike spirit that’s inside all of us.
This could take the form of a sunset hike, a wake boarding adventure, or simply building castles in the sand with the youngest members of your family––the only rule is to have fun along the way.
As you slow down and detach from work commitments in the summer, you’ll naturally feel more in touch with your true, most conscious self and better able to listen to that wise, inner voice that often gets drowned out by busy lifestyles and social obligations. A mindfulness practice, such as meditation, will help enhance this calmer, conscious state.
Even if your main aim for your holiday is to spend time with family and friends and be social, you can still make mindfulness part of your holiday––set aside 10 minutes a day and do a short meditation on an app like Insight Timer. You can do it before breakfast or as part of your getting-ready ritual before dinner and ensure you feel more grounded throughout the day.
A platform like Insight Timer makes it easy to keep up with a daily practice by making an array of meditations of varying lengths––from 3 minutes to over an hour––on your fingertips. You can simply type in what you are aiming from, be it stress-relief or a gratitude practice, and find the track that’s most suitable for you. The meditations by Tara Brach on the app come highly recommended by Intelligent Change’s Mimi Ikonn.
Even if you’re not traveling anywhere exotic, being able to enjoy the sunshine and an ice cream in the park puts you in a summer state of mind. Make the most of these slower, sunny days by making time for yourself and enjoying new experiences – the only rule is to keep an open mind and pick up the lessons and moments of inspiration, along the way.