By Dr Lynda Shaw, neuroscientist, business psychologist and change specialist.
This summer will certainly be different compared to previous years but different doesn’t have to mean bad. We are all slowly learning how to adapt to the new normal but where does this leave us when it comes to our cherished summer holiday that may have changed into an unplanned staycation for many of us? Here are some fun yet good social distancing ideas to consider as part of your well-earned breaks to keep you entertained and to keep anxiety at bay this summer:-
Fishing – Fishing is one of the first activities that Brits were allowed to enjoy when lockdown restrictions were eased and it’s also a brilliant way to relieve stress. There’s something calming and tranquil about being close to water, which may explain why fishing has grown in popularity within recent months. It can be done alone or with a couple of others and is an amazing way to teach patience and practice mindfulness. On the other hand, it can also keep the entire family entertained as many lakes have beautiful scenery and footpaths to explore.
Pick your own fruit and veg – Fruit and veg pic your own farms are currently open and are a lovely way to spend a summers afternoon. Fill a fruit basket, soak in some sun, and enjoy some of your five-a-day, packed with amazing vitamins and minerals which help to boost your immune system, helping to keep you fit and well.
Foot golf, crazy golf, any kind of golf! – Not only is golf a good means of exercise, it is also great at keeping the mind sharp. Weighing up the benefits and risks of a particular shot and calculating scores helps to maintain mental alertness and keeps those mental cogs moving. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety by boosting endorphins and serotonin levels.
Horse riding – Granted, horse riding isn’t for everyone, although it is definitely one to try if you’re an animal lover. Horse riding helps to develop core strength, improves coordination and encourages trust between horse and rider.
Barge trips – This is a great way to explore England’s inland waterways and visit some cities you are yet to tick off your list. Not only are these trips relaxing, they are also different way to sight see and encourage team building within the family. This will help to increase communication and provide positive reinforcement, helping build a more cooperative family unit overall.
Open air cinema / drive in cinema – Who doesn’t love a movie? Not only is a movie a great way to escape reality and relax, recent research from Oxford University suggests that there are some psychological benefits to watching films.
Picnics – Having a picnic out in the fresh air is a great way to improve mental health. Time outdoors helps to reduce anxiety and has an overall calming effect. Furthermore, UV rays provided by the sun help to boost levels of vitamin D which increases our energy and regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies.
Camping / glamping – Spending time in natural light and darkness is a great way to regulate the levels of melatonin in your brain. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness which signals the body to feel tired. Studies show the use of artificial light from TV’s, phones and laptops before bed can be halting the production of melatonin which may be affecting your sleep cycle. Therefore, spending some time in nature may help to regulate this.
Family time at home – Spending time with your family is so important and now more than ever is an ideal time for some family bonding. Family time improves mental health, helps children to perform well academically, boosts self-confidence, lowers the risk of behavioral problems and much more! It teaches children that they have a strong family network that they can rely on and learn from throughout their lives.
Open water swimming – This sport is hugely beneficial when it comes to losing weight and providing a sense of personal achievement. It also offers a range of health benefits. According to a recent study, scientists have found that swimming in cold water three times a week can increase your white blood cell count which in turn boosts your immune system as white blood cells help to fight infection. Cold water also helps to increase circulation, flushing any impurities out of the body so that you feel healthier in general.
For more information on Dr Lynda Shaw please visit www.drlyndashaw.com