5 Ways to a Healthier Summer (Even if Your Heart’s Not In It)

Author: Emily Munoz

Summer, with its long days of light and warmth, is also a great time to stretch yourself emotionally and physically. Listen to nature’s cues to grow, just a little, even if you’re not feeling the sunshine (yet).

summertime, bicycle

1. Remember you’re not too hurt for simple pleasures.

It may seem that way in early grief, when loss leaves you hollow. But trying to find small joys is not impossible or inappropriate. Summer is a time for simple pleasures - cold water on a hot day, laughter of children playing outside, the cheer of a hometown crowd, barbecues, bicycle rides - but how easily grief removes us from lives where those things are appreciated or even allowed. Try to attempt immersion back into an experience of summer, and be present there. Remind yourself that it’s okay to be alive, where and as you are, in this changed season.

2. Watch fireflies.

How often we look into the darkness - and how wonderful it feels when we have proof of light and life. Fireflies are beautiful because, for the moments they flare and fly - they captivate us. We watch for the flicker instead of waiting for the darkening. Allow yourself the hopeful surprises.

3. Go to a farmer's market.

Grief is an honest labor. So is farming. Allow yourself to see one process through by selecting fruits and vegetables for a home-cooked meal. Choose pesticide-free, local foods (it's like they were grown just for you) and deepen your connection to the work of growth, nourishment and community. When you prepare what you've selected, you'll have completed a process that will help you feel worthy of care.

4. Just keep swimming.

Hope floats - and so do you. Get in the water and go swimming. You'll improve your mood and your fitness without putting lots of stress on your body. If you aren't comfortable in the water, there are lots of low cost community swim programs that will help you increase your ability and your confidence. Programs like water Zumba and water aerobics are ways to increase strength, cardiovascular health and mood-boosting endorphins without worrying about heat and air quality. Plus, you’ll manifest some of the best grief journey advice there is - just keep swimming. 

5. Ride a bike.

Rent while you’re on vacation, borrow from a neighbor, get an old bike tuned up or buy a beach cruiser - and allow yourself to power your own journey. Go where you choose, on your own steam, with the wind in your face (but take water and supplies!). Feel yourself working with adversity - with wind, hills, fatigue - and allow yourself the freeing delight of an easy downhill. Remember, as you go, that there will always be a reprieve from the work and the struggle - but that the climb is making you stronger than you know. 

From the pen of…

Emily Muñoz, Director of TAPS Health and Wellness, is living a personal campaign to be the person her late husband Army Capt. Gilbert Muñoz loved - and is using the TAPS Inner Warrior program to empower survivors to do the same.