Cultivating Calm in Summer Chaos
By Brianne Giokas, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Liane Knox, Certified Yoga Therapist & Yoga Instructor
Calgary has a short but vibrant summer season (no complaints on our part at all – although it could be longer). Even though the days are hot, the dramatic changes in temperature and shifts in our daily routine can have a strong impact on the systems of the body. Here is a helpful list of effective and simple lifestyle tools to support your well-being throughout the summer season.
During the heated summer months, our body’s nutritional requirements change. We find ourselves more active physically and socially which often uproots our regular routine. Summer is a fun, light, yang season but can, at times, leave us feeling depleted. Simple nutritional adjustments can have a profound impact on energy levels, mood, digestion and the ability to handle stress.
Fish – The perfect BBQ food! The oilier the better when it comes to selecting fish. Salmon, tuna, herring, sole and mackerel (sustainably caught) are perfect options to add to a meal rotation. They’re rich in omega-3 fats, which can reduce inflammation and improve mood. Throw a piece on top of a salad for extra nutrition points!
Fresh berries – Berries are abundant during the summer months and contain a large amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help to combat sun damage. Take advantage of your local farmers market and stock up on seasonal produce! Better yet, grow your own garden.
Fermented foods – Probiotics are a buzzword for good reason! We need healthy bacteria to ward off infections and to support digestion. The first thing to be compromised when travelling (or with a change in routine) is often our ability to digest. Fermented foods like lacto-fermented pickles, kombucha and kefir are cooling to the body and support healthy absorption, immunity and excretion. You can pick these up at your local health food store or even make your own!
Magnesium rich foods – Magnesium helps the body process stress, reduce muscle inflammation and can aid in restful sleep. We lose magnesium through sweating so it is crucial to include food sources or supplements containing this mineral on a regular bases. Food sources include good quality dark chocolate (yum!), hempseeds, greens such as kale or spinach, and pumpkin seeds.
Summer should be a time of relaxation, ensuring that all of our needs are met. Unfortunately, for most of us, summer results in a jam-packed schedule: vacationing, festival(ing), socializing and consuming what summer brings. Take time to be present and commit to a daily self-care ritual.
Journaling – Grab a notebook and write! You can journal about goals, experiences, new ideas, relationships or start by listing 3-5 things you are grateful for each day. A journal is an easy tool to bring with you on any summer adventure.
Epsom salt bath – Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt and 5-10 drops of your favorite therapeutic-grade essential oil to a hot bath. A hot Epsom salt bath will promote internal relaxation and mindfulness, help the physical body to de-stress and stimulate detoxification. Maybe include a little candlelight!
Meditation – Meditation is setting intentional time to be still, silent or at ease. Do not shy away from the act of Meditation, this can come in many forms. A nature walk can be an excellent way to start. Walk a slow steady pace, taking deep breaths in and out, acknowledging the surroundings, touching the leaves, just embracing the experience and its entirety.
When seasons change, our systems do as well causing noticeable physical and emotion imbalances (especially in the intense summer months). Imbalances may include swelling of the extremities, agitated moods or high body temperature. Movement will increase blood flow and encourage the body to sweat, helping the reduction of inflammation or high temperatures.
Yoga – The purpose of a physical yoga practice is to learn how to cultivate connection of the mind, body and breath. This is done through a series of sequences, stretches and strengthening exercises. Incorporating a daily yoga practice into your physical exercise routine can have more benefits than just cultivating calm. Yoga will help decrease stress, improve flexibility and mobility, increase blood flow, flush toxins and stimulate digestion – leaving the body cleansed, connected and balanced. For a quick uplifting energy fix try: Legs up the wall, cat/ cow, gentle vinyasa, or seated twists.
The Great Canadian Outdoors – We are so fortunate to live in such a vibrant, active city. Even on rainy, summer days, getting outside can trigger the same release sensation as a luxurious day at the spa. Join a bike team, go for a walk, a hike, a run, read on the patio or make your way to Kananaskis country with a healthy picnic, great podcast and good friends. Elements of air, water, and earth are extremely beneficial to maintain our overall health.
The combination of heat + outdoor activities + alcoholic beverages can wreak havoc on our electrolyte balance! Dehydration can lead to dizziness, headaches, fatigue, chronic sore muscles, increased heart rate, inability to heal and poor sleep.
Home remedies for dehydration
Drink a glass of watermelon juice (freshly blended or from a juicer) before or after sun exposure to treat or prevent over heating. Watermelon is naturally cooling and prevents excessive thirst, vomiting and hypertension.
Consider adding a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to your water to aid in cell hydration. Many times, we drink water but we are not properly assimilating it. By consuming electrolytes (trace minerals) we support whole body hydration – natural electrolyte packets and coconut water are also helpful.
Make lemonade with fresh lemons, sea salt and raw sugar. Drink it many times a day to prevent heat stroke and diarrhea.
Mix 1/4 cup of plain yogurt or kefir with 3/4 cup of water. Add mint leaves, sea salt and black pepper. This is an excellent summer afternoon drink to aid digestion, cool the body and eliminate dehydration.
Have a safe, happy and healthy summer Calgary!