Kickstart Your Summer with These 7 Healthy Habits

summer sunset in nature


Summer is associated with long, warm days, family vacations, and outdoor festivities.  It inspires fun in the sun and relaxation.

Although summer is often looked forward to, it can be challenging, due to lack of structure and schedule modifications.  Kiddos are out of school and routines change.  Healthy habits that formerly served us well, are no longer practical.  It is necessary to establish new daily, healthy habits.

In my best-selling book, From Burnout to Best Life, How to Take Charge of Your Health & Happiness, I share how to build sustainable habits.

There are three steps to habit formation: Cue, Behavior, and Reward. Think about a triangle. At the top point of the triangle, the first step is the Cue or trigger. The cue is the reminder to do the behavior. An example would be setting the alarm on your phone to remind yourself to do a healthy task like getting up and moving for five minutes or drinking water.

The second component in the triangle, at the bottom right corner, is the Behavior or habit you wish to form. In this example, the behavior would be getting up and moving or drinking a glass of water.

The third component in habit formation, at the bottom left corner of the HABIT triangle, is the Reward. The reward is the benefit of doing the habit. Potential rewards include losing or maintaining weight, improved overall health, and clearer skin in this example.  However, there is not enough substantiated evidence to support this claim. Positive habits are formed when these three components are all in place.

Habits are formed by repetition.  Some believe that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Consider smoking as an example.  If the desire is to quit smoking, the 21-day rule would imply that an individual can quit smoking in 21 days. You may know of someone who quit smoking cold turkey. They decided one morning to quit, and they did. For others, it may take months, even years, to quit smoking. Some individuals never do.

When creating new summer healthy habits, it’s important to start small, to build self-efficacy.  When we try to change everything at once, we set ourselves up for failure.  We feel overwhelmed and give up.

Start with one small habit, such as drinking 8 ounces more of water per day.  Do this for several days until it feels comfortable, then add another 8 ounces of water per day.  Do this for several days and then add more.  Continue with this strategy until you reach your desired water goal.  This may take you a couple weeks.

Now that you’re familiar with the habit formation process, here are seven habits to incorporate into your daily routine to ensure a healthy summer.


1. Stay Hydrated

Summer heat can quickly lead to dehydration.  Make it a habit to drink 8-10 glasses of water daily.  If you’re doing strenuous activity or are outdoors where it’s easier to become dehydrated, increase your water intake beyond 8-10 glasses.  If you are drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that cause dehydration, drink an additional glass of water for every glass of alcoholic or caffeinated beverage you consume.

Make water consumption more desirable by infusing with lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber slices, berries, mint, or zero calorie flavor enhancers.


stay hydrated with fruit infused drinks


2. Eat Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies by incorporating fresh, seasonal produce into your meals and snacks.


3. Prioritize Sun Protection

As someone who has had skin cancer due to unprotected sun exposure, it’s important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.  Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your hands and feet.  If you’re in and out of the water, reapply protection every hour.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.  Long sleeve sun shirts are great alternatives if you spend most of your day outdoors.  Not only do they wick away moisture, but they protect against harmful UV rays.

If possible, seek shade during peak hours of 10am – 4pm.


4. Get Active Outdoors

Engage in outdoor activities such as morning yoga, walking, hiking, biking, swimming, and pickle ball.


5. Practice Mindful Eating

When attending barbeques, picnics, and social gatherings, focus on the conversation and step away from the food, so you are less tempted to eat when not hungry.  Don’t go to gatherings hungry.  Eat a snack beforehand.

Drink a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage.

Take a sip of water between every bite of food.

Make balanced food choices by incorporating fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Indulge in sugary and processed foods in moderation.  Telling yourself you can’t have them will make you want them more and may result in a binge.  Find satisfying, healthier alternatives to high calorie indulgences, such as fresh berries with low calorie whipped topping or fruit juice frozen bars.


6. Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine

Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.  Ensure you are in bed, with lights out and eyes closed, ready for sleep, at least 8 hours prior to your scheduled awake time.  Recommended sleep duration is between 7-9 hours of sleep, with 1-2 hours of deep sleep.

Turn off electronic devices 1-2 hours before sleep.

Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages 4-6 hours prior to sleep.

Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages 2-3 hours prior to sleep.  Although alcohol may cause drowsiness, it disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm and prevents deep, restorative sleep.

Keep your sleeping environment cool, dark, and quiet to promote restful sleep.  Sleep with a comfortable eye mask if sensitive to light.


sleep routine woman sleeping


7. Practice Daily Self-Care

Incorporate meditation, deep breathing, or mental fitness exercises throughout your day to reduce stress.

Do something daily that brings you joy, such as listening to your favorite music, reading a chapter in a book, or savoring a cup of tea or coffee.


Remember, everyone creates habits at different rates.  Start small.  Don’t try to start all habits at the same time.  You will set yourself up for failure.  Pick one new habit each week.

Small changes lead to significant improvements in your health and wellbeing.  Enjoy your summer while laying the foundation for long-term wellness.

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