By Meredith, Pure Matters
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot. In fact, many days in many places this summer have reached temperatures that are too high to safely exercise outdoors. Sure, you can still go to the gym, if you’re feeling motivated. If not? It’s not often you’ll hear this from us, but when it’s hot, you have our permission to miss a workout -- just focus on your mind instead.
That means: Relaxing indoors in front of the air conditioner, with your feet propped up and a glass of ice water in your hand. And while you’re sitting there, try these mind-strengthening activities instead -- there’s no need to feel guilty about skipping a workout when you’re working out your brain!
Read a Book
If you haven’t picked up a book in awhile, summer is the perfect time to indulge, thanks to an influx of relaxed, beach-appropriate reads. If you’re a frequent reader, even better -- reading has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, plus it’s a perfect way to relax, daydream, and escape. Not to mention, depending on what you choose, you just might learn something. (Not sure what to read? So far this summer, I’ve devoured and loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I highly recommend all three!)
Take a Class
I’m not talking about pilates or Zumba -- I’m talking photography, sewing, Spanish, creative writing, baking, something, anything that you’ve always been curious about. With schools out for summer break, many local high schools and community classes have one-day sessions for adult continuing education -- if you poke around in your area, you’re sure to find something that makes your heart sing. A few years ago I took a summer sewing class; I was terrible and my final project was a pair of unrecognizable pajama pants -- but I loved that I tried.
If you want to truly give your mind a workout, what better way than meditation? There are a wide variety of different methods available -- your local community college or even your primary care physician can provide you some insight in picking the right practice for you. Start small, with five- or 10-minute sessions and work your way up to 20 minutes. Before you know it, you just find yourself wondering why you’re not feeling so stressed anymore. (If you’re really struggling with stress, I highly recommend Pure Matters Enliven -- it can help with relaxation and concentration.)
Let Yourself Play
The kids are home from school -- now’s the time for you to act like a kid too, with what better than puzzles and games? Indulge yourself in a crossword or sudoku puzzle. There’s long been a correlation between challenging puzzles and mental longevity; there’s something about those little blocks and mulling over the logic to solve them that keeps our brains sharp. I’ll even make it harder: I challenge you to do it in pen!
When it’s too hot to work out, tap into your artistic side. Next time you’re at Target or Walmart, pick up a box of crayons or colored pencils, or pick up a cheap set of art supplies at a local arts and crafts store. Draw, paint, color -- nobody’s going to judge if you break out one of your kid’s coloring books, or if your final artwork isn’t quite a Picasso. Exercising your creative muscles also helps reduce stress, and it just might help you think creatively about solving problems when you’re not holding a pencil or a brush.