Top Tips for Staying Healthy This Summer

Summertime is in full bloom, and that means long hot days where you’re hanging by the pool and sipping something cool. It also means lots of parties, where you’re likely to drink lots of beer and eat barbecue and maybe even smoke a cigarette or two. It also means bathing suit season, which makes anyone feel self-conscious. Summer’s supposed to be fun, and you always want it to be fun, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a step back and think about your health. And in a season where you have the opportunity to go out for runs on the beach and spend evenings with your family instead of in front of a computer screen, it can be easy.

Staying healthy in the summer is all about finding creative ways to have fun while also cutting back on bad habits you don’t need. So if you’re ready to be healthy this summer–even though we’ve only got a little under two months left–here’s how.

Cook at home when you can

One of the easiest ways to lose track of your health–and your waistline–is by eating outside of your home a lot. In the summer, it’s so easy to pick up some ice cream on a hot day in the city, when there’s an ice cream truck parked just across the street from where you work. And everyone’s throwing parties and barbecues, where there are tempting slices of cake and cupcakes. And that’s only the sweet stuff.

That’s why it’s so important to cook at home. On average, every meal or snack eaten outside of your home is 134 more calories than they’d be if you were making it yourself. In the long run, that contributes to way more calories than is ideal. So even though it takes extra time, the same way that taking classes with an online tutor takes time but improves your grades, cook at home. If you’re busy, schedule a couple of days a week to cook in bulk so you can take leftovers to work and friends’ parties.

Cut out the booze

Another huge habit that’s draining your health is alcohol. In the summer, it’s tempting to sip daiquiris and Coronas as you’re looking at the sunset or having a big dinner with family in the heat, and you’re probably drinking more than you realize. And while it’s important to relax with a cold one every once in a while, drinking too much is a problem. Drinking is on the rise in the US, especially for women, minorities, and older adults–but anyone can be affected.

Ask yourself, and your family and friends, if you’ve been drinking too much. Even a shy “Well…” will tell you what you need to hear. And if you want to lose some weight, even if you don’t have a drinking problem, it’s an easy way to do it. Halve however much you’re drinking, or drink only on weekends, and you’ll see a huge difference. Do the same with sweet drinks like sodas and juice, and the pounds will start shedding faster than you could’ve ever imagined.

Don’t give into the summertime blues

When it comes to feeling blue, many people feel it when cold weather comes around. But for some of us, the heat is exhausting, and we are dehydrated, and summer isn’t for us. If you’re feeling a bit blue, and like there’s too much pressure to enjoy your time by the pool or on the tennis court, then it’s a good idea to start seeing a professional psychologist. You might be depressed, or have anxiety, but the only way you’re going to find out is by seeing a professional.

15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety–and that’s only one kind of anxiety. Just imagine how many people struggle with life when they’re anxious about work, or too depressed to take their kids to the beach. Additionally, think about whether you might be suffering from a social media or technology addiction. These are sneaky, but take up many hours of our lives. If you find that you’re spending more time checking Facebook likes of videos of your kids instead of spending time with them, it’s time to put that phone on airplane mode and look away from the screen.

These issues can have not only an effect on your mental health but your physical health, too. So it’s just as important to go for a run as it is to understand if you have issues to confront. These are some of the best ways to stay healthy this summer. What other strategies do you use to stay healthy?