Nature has started to become green and fresh again, and the days are staying lighter for longer. Although it feels as though spring has barely sprung, most people are looking a little further ahead. Having spent much of the last year trapped indoors, who could blame you for starting to make plans for a sun-soaked, adventurous summer?
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While you can look and feel great whatever your plans are, it is vital that you also give some consideration to how you can stay healthy.
Yes, having lived through a pandemic, you’re probably sick of hearing about protecting yourself against illnesses. However, the world is not completely out of the woods yet, and there are still other issues that can present health risks that are not connected to COVID-19. With a few adjustments to your plans, you can get the most out of your summer.
Nourish Your Body
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When summer starts to roll around, a lot of people motivate themselves to start a diet. While a healthy diet can help you maintain weight and wellness, taking on short-term, goal-oriented weight loss programs is not good for your overall wellbeing. Your brain is designed to rebel against this approach; informed partly by a genetic predisposition to be within a certain body mass range.
Your hormones also respond to rapid weight loss actions with cravings for dense foods. Whatever your motivation, depriving your body of nutrients is not the safe or effective way forward. Rather, pay closer attention to the types of food you eat and make sure that your body gets the nutrition it needs to thrive during the summer.
Perhaps the most common way in which people fail to nourish their bodies effectively is through their water intake. Your body needs between 2.7 to 3.6 litres of water per day to remain functional. Without sufficient hydration, especially when you plan on going outside, you can experience fatigue, skin issues, headaches, and even urinary tract infections.
The need to keep well hydrated is enhanced in the summer months, particularly if you have an active lifestyle. Prepare by making sure that you take a couple of bottles of water with you whenever you leave home — not soft drinks or energy drinks since neither of these options is effective or healthy. If you plan on regularly exercising, drinking water that is infused with electrolytes can help replace those you’ve lost through sweating.
Maintain Your Energy
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When summer rolls around, you want to make the most of it — particularly in parts of the UK that don’t always see a lot of sunshine! As such, it’s important to make sure that you are in a position to keep your energy levels up so that you don’t find yourself overexerting yourself during activities. You certainly don’t want to reach one of the most enjoyable parts of the year and find that you are suffering from fatigue.
One of the most important areas for you to focus on is getting the right amount of sleep. With the sun remaining high for a large portion of the day in the summer, you may find yourself staying up later and rising earlier, thus losing sleep. Doing this can be disruptive to your circadian rhythm, which in turn can be detrimental to your health.
You can help to keep your system in sync by sticking to a routine each day, and consistently applying winding down procedures. Make sure that when you go to bed your room is well designed to support sleep — soft lighting, drawn curtains, access to a book rather than your screens. The better quality of sleep you can get, the more able you’ll be to experience a healthy summer.
Protect Your Skin
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When summer rolls around there’s a natural tendency to let your skin drink in some of that revitalizing sunshine. There are certainly health benefits to this; vitamin D can boost your immune system, enhance your mood, and it can even help aid better quality sleep. However, it’s equally important to understand how exposing your body to the elements for extended periods can be detrimental, so you can better protect your skin and your wellbeing.
The first step, and probably the most important step, is to make certain that you keep a robust sunblock application routine. Most people know why to wear sunscreen — doing so can reduce your chances of developing both squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and lower your melanoma risk — but most people don’t always know how to protect themselves against these concerns with proper application.
Firstly, you should be using a sunblock that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. If you’re using a chemical sunscreen, it’s best to apply it before you use any other skin or beauty products since it needs to seep into your skin to function correctly. If you’re using a mineral-based screen (like zinc) that blocks UV rays, this needs to be applied to the top level of your skin, so put it on after any other skin products are used.
The sun isn’t the only threat to healthy skin in the summer. Fewer clothes and more time outside can mean that you have greater exposure to pollution, especially in cities. This is considered to cause accelerated signs of ageing — wrinkles, blemishes, less collagen production — and even cause health issues, particularly for those with sensitive skin. As such, it’s important to keep well hydrated to keep your skin clear and exfoliate regularly to prevent pore blockage.
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To get the most out of the summer, it's important to approach the season with consideration to your health. Make sure that your body gets the food and hydration it needs, and pay close attention to the quality of your sleep. This, alongside a skin protection routine, can make sure you can have a happy and healthy summer.