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  • Annelise Richards

15 Ways to Have a Healthier Summer

The dog days of summer are here, and with all that sweltering heat comes a whole lot of boredom. A lot of times this is when we all start to falter in our good habits and start getting lazy, and when we get lazy we start feeling terrible and our mood goes down the drain; so today we’re bringing you the 15 things you need to do to have a healthy and memorable summer and be totally ready for when school starts in the fall!

1. Don't Drink Coffee- This may seem pretty obvious, even though those frappuccinos are so so so delicious, you may be doing more harm than good. Caffeine taken from coffee is associated with higher blood pressure, and all the fake sugar and creamers added to a drink make you tired and cranky after the caffeine wears off. This isn’t to say a morning cup is harmful, but if you’re drinking 4+ servings in a day that are loaded with all kinds of flavorings and milk, it’s probably best to scale back and go for a healthier alternative like green tea, which derives its caffeine from vitamin B12 and has less sugar.

2. Find Workouts That Fit You- This is probably the hardest step to get in the habit of, but once you start exercising and sticking to a routine, you’ll be in the habit of going weekly way before you're old enough to need to do it. Start out with a couple days a week and some simple exercises so you don't strain yourself, and work up to more intense routines. An important note: don't be a cardio monster; while it's important to do cardio regularly, you always need to focus on your whole body instead of just one part. Switch up your workout styles, don't skip leg day, and your whole body will feel better sooner.

3. Drink More Water- I sound like a broken record here, but drinking more water is almost always beneficial. It’s crucial to your health to drink more often in the summer in order to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion, and it’s especially important to try to avoid activity that leaves you out in the open during the hottest part of the day. You don't have to carry water with you constantly, but if you’re going on a car trip or know you’ll be outside, definitely bring some ice water in case the day gets really bad.

4. Wear sunscreen- sunscreen is probably the most important and most overlooked summer tip. Just because you aren't swimming doesn’t mean you can't get sunburned. Always use an SPF of 15 or more to protect your skin from UV rays and immediately get out of the sun if you feel like you're starting to burn. After you get out of the sun, even if you aren't burnt, aloe gel or the inside of an aloe vera leaf will soothe and moisturize your skin and can even help you preserve a tan, not bad of a bargain for a $4 plant.

5. Take Days to Relax- Everyone hypes up summer as this exciting time to hang out with friends and go on road trips and do all the things in the world, but nobody focuses on the days between that where you honestly can't be bothered to move at all. These days are crucial to summer because they are the days where you get to actually relax and recharge your batteries. Take the day to lay out in the backyard, watch some movies, or if its raining, break out some cookbooks and learn a new recipe.

6. Eat More Fruit and Vegetables- I was one of those weird kids that actually liked their vegetables when they were little, and if you were like me, you understand that brussels sprouts are criminally hated and veggies are absolutely delicious… except for squash. Squash is disgusting. Eating fruit and vegetables is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure, boost your vitamins, and snack without being unhealthy. A cup of cherries contains about 16% of your daily requirements in vitamin C, and just like broccoli and asparagus, they contain protein, calcium, and other goodies. If you really hate veggies, try cooking them or seasoning them differently and experiment with your preparation to see what tastes good to you.

7. Cut Down on Processed Food- Cutting back on processed food is the only unanimously agreed on way to eat healthy. So many Doctors, dieticians, and health blogs say yes to one thing and no to the other, and it ends up getting very confusing. The best way to avoid this confusion is to be mindful of what you're eating and cut down on foods that are processed. This means using raw sugar instead of refined sugar in your tea, cutting down on junk food like chips and candy, and going for whole grain rices and breads when you want a sandwich or some pasta. No food is inherently dangerous, and refined foods aren't going to kill you, but it’s best to eat them sparingly in favor of a diet that more closely resembles what you might see at a farmers market.

8. Wake up Early- One of the best ways to increase productivity and gain a more positive outlook is to wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier. Consistent wake up times are correlated with a better diet, healthier habits, and less stress because the brain gets to experience the whole day and you aren't rushing to work or school. Try setting an alarm for 9 am and squeeze in a workout to warm yourself up for the day. I promise it’ll motivate you to work harder and be happier.

9. Splurge on a New Outfit- This may seem counterintuitive because everyone wants to save money in the summer, right? Well yes, that's technically correct, but there's hundreds of websites that sell great summer clothes for an affordable price and everyone knows how happy you get whenever you buy new clothes. Buying a new ‘fit can boost your confidence and make you stand a little taller around your summer crush. Go out and splurge! You deserve it!

10. Get a Summer Job- A lot of high schoolers and college students understand this struggle, the searching for a job, the application process, the interview, and then the hours stuck inside while all your friends get to hang out seemingly forever. However there's one big thing that makes it worth it, that sweet sweet paycheck at the end of two weeks when you finally see your labor paying off. Even if it’s a minimum wage job, a fancy store job that pays $20 an hour for some reason, or an unpaid internship, these experiences are gonna look great on a resume and help eliminate some of that summer boredom.

11. Step Up Skincare- My favorite thing to do when I have friends over for the night is to do face masks and other things in that nature. You can make homemade masks out of egg whites and avocados, or you can get store bought masks with witch hazel and salicylic acid to make your skin glow and prevent breakouts! You can also grab a cucumber and put some slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness and soothe the skin. Activated charcoal is another good material to use to help clear skin, as it binds itself to bacteria and other toxins in the body and helps flush them out.

12. Do a Closet Purge- a recurring trend of 2018 is to create a closet instagram and use it to sell old clothes from your closet. Think about it, do you really wear that sweater you got because it was “SO CUTE!!!” when it was on sale last year? Selling and donating clothes is the best way to recycle clothes that are still good enough to be worn, which is great for the environment and great for those who may not be able to afford new clothes right away!

13. Redesign Your Bedroom- When you move houses, change to a new stage in life, or suddenly have a massive change in decor taste, it's a good time to redecorate, but completely revamping a bedroom takes a lot of time and a lot of money, so in order to change some stuff up, you can always move some furniture around, move old shelf items down and replace them with new ones, start a collection of things like soda bottles or antique pins, it doesn't matter. A change in scenery is always nice to refresh yourself, and it's especially fun to bring your pets to your room to see how they freak out to the new design!

14. Stop Pulling All-Nighters- Summertime is beloved because of how there's no school, and so that means you can stay up late and watch movies or just talk with your friends, but as fun as that sounds, staying up till 3:30 am isn't a good idea. Sleep deprivation has been linked to depression, and lowers productivity in a person. You don't have to go to bed by some ridiculous time like 8:30, but it's good to shoot for 10:30 to 11 in order to get a full cycle of sleep before the morning. Your brain is the most important part of you, and it needs to rest just the same as you do.

15. Do a Social Media Cleanse- A huge player in the rise in teen depression and mental health issues is the influence of social media. Since instagram hit its stride there have been numerous reports of teenagers and adults being more depressed than before. Some believe that the rise in social media has deteriorated the quality of face-to-face interaction because we don't interpret social cues the same way. A good way to avoid drama and put your mind at ease is to do a social media purge, in which you delete or take a leave of absence from social media and connect with people face to face. See if one of your friends wants to kayak, watch tv, or just talk. It's always much more fun than texting.

Summertime is one of the best times of the year because of the warmth and freedom that comes with no school, but we all have a tendency to get lazy, so if you follow some of these tips, your summer can be healthy, happy, and you’ll have great stories to tell your friends come August!

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