In the wise words of Will Smith: "Summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind."
The current summer season definitely calls for some extreme relaxation, especially in a sunny setting such as the state of Florida. Some of us use this as an opportunity for daily tanning, pool parties, or binging on the latest Netflix series. However, being in the prime of our young adulthood, we should reconsider how we spend our days off.
Although a day full of swimming and a night spent lying on the sofa watching movies sounds more than tempting, we should limit our television (and party) intake and utilize this time to explore the world around us.
Whether you're on a budget or have a flexible monetary situation, use the twelve weeks of summer to learn more about your surroundings, and most importantly to potentially learn something new about yourself.
1. Travel, Travel, Travel
If you can afford to take a trip to a foreign country that would obviously be my number one suggestion. Nevertheless, that certainly is not the case for everyone.
If you're grounded by a tight work schedule or a lack of funds, there is always the option of embarking on a weekend journey to a nearby city or town. My full itinerary forced me to do just that, and to my surprise I fell in love with a city I would have never ventured to if it weren't for its close proximity to Tallahassee.
I booked a weekend stay at a quaint bed and breakfast in the beach side town of St. Augustine and fell in love. I learned about my own Spanish culture and its impact on the state of Florida, along with enjoying all of the delicious fresh seafood and historic sightseeing that it has to offer. So plan a weekend with a friend or loved one to nearby small town that you may just end up wanting to visit more than once.
2. Explore Your City
Take a drive to a new area in your current city of residence. Find a historic location, a local park, an interesting gallery, or a new restaurant that you have yet to visit. Park your car and simply take a walk down a street you've never seen before. You'd be surprised at the hidden gems that you can unearth when traveling without an agenda.
3. Pick Up a New Hobby
Try exploring a new leisure activity such as crafts, cooking, painting, or writing. Last summer my fondness of dancing led me to try my hand at hula hooping. The end result: I fell in love with the hobby, made fellow hooper friends, and lost about 10 pounds! Relate your personal interests to a new and productive diversion that can lead you to new avenues of recreation.
4. Exercise More
Exercise is not only important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and fit physique; it literally puts you in a better mood and improves your overall quality of life.
As Elle Woods once said "exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." Elle was definitely on to something there. Working out is the most natural way to relieve stress and anxiety and simply boost your mood.
Use your free time to develop a consistent exercise routine that you can later incorporate into your regular schedule. Don't know where to begin? Use online resources such as womenshealthmag.com or fitnessmagazine.com to find the right exercise regimen for you, or sign up at a local fitness studio for a class that seems fun and appealing to you.
5. Explore New Cuisines
As a lover of all things edible, I've learned that the only way to expand your culinary preferences are through trial and error. In order to define your flavor palette, you must expand your horizons through foods that you may not necessarily favor. But isn't that the case with many aspects in life?
You could potentially find something new and delicious if you maintain a flexible outlook on what you eat. Use yelp.com or urbanspoon.com to discover multi-cultural restaurants in your area. You may unknowingly find your next favorite meal within the realm of a foreign cuisine.
There really is no excuse to lounge around all summer, when there are so many exciting opportunities at your disposal. Creating a memorable summer really isn't as difficult (or expensive) as it may seem. All that you have to do is step outside of your comfort zone and remain open to new endeavors. So take a risk this summer season, because it may just end up changing your life forever.