A few nights ago, my son and I hiked Flattop in Anchorage. It was wonderful and an experience I will never forget. I was so impressed with my son, and how easy he made it look! The picture below is when we reached the top at about 9PM. This was after a full day of playing outside with friends, working in the yard, and doing chores around the house. Not surprisingly, I woke up the next day feeling tired and a little burned out. My muscles ached and I felt anxious. I made it a priority to listen to my body and my mind and prioritize quieter activities around the house, despite the strong pull of the Midnight Sun to go full force again.
Living in Alaska makes you appreciate the summer more than most and we feel the pressure to take full advantage of the short summer because we know the inevitable long winter awaits. Unfortunately, this can lead to an increase in stress, and our bodies and brains pay the price.
Our brains seek balance and when our routines are out of balance (i.e. hiking and playing all day without rest) this can cause our entire system to be stressed and we can feel unwell. When our routines are balanced, we generally feel a sense of general well-being. Maintaining a regular routine with a balance of different types of activities (work, rest, leisure, self-care) helps us to achieve lifestyle balance.
Below are a few questions to help you reflect on your summer routine:
What is your daily routine? Is it predictable, is it balanced?
How has your daily routine changed since the beginning of summer?
Which activities make you feel replenished and which ones make you feel depleted?
Once you've reflected on your routine, challenge yourself to make one small change that will help you feel more balance. Here are a few ideas:
Schedule rest days/times and put it in your calendar
Go to bed 15 minutes earlier during the work week
Move your body! Walk, dance, stretch, run, or hike. Physical activity is crucial for maintaining your physical and mental health. While 150 minutes/week is ideal, start with 15 minutes day until you feel ready for more.