As you slowly begin the descent from the peak of the summer solstice, you might be wondering, how do I hold on to this?
How do I store all of the energy, the beauty, the freedom, the feeling of summer far past the brevity of the season? How do I hold onto the uplifting glow on gloomy days or as the daylight slowly shortens?
Maybe these questions linger in the back of your mind…or maybe you don’t even consider these thoughts until well into September. Either way, I’m here to tell you that now is the time to absorb the true abundance of the summer sun.
If you take just a few steps to consume the goodness the sun brings, your efforts will sustain you well past this short season and nourish you into fall and winter.
The easiest way to capture the power of the sun is to absorb the rays through your largest organ, your skin. Give your skin ample opportunity to function as you were made to. Vitamin D is synthesized in your body by the sun. You literally make and convert vitamin D into an active form simply by providing your skin with sun exposure. You are created to sync with nature.
If you’re in the habit of “protecting your skin,” consider giving it the opportunity to do its job to absorb this natural element before shutting the sun out. Build your sun tolerance through exposure. Trust your skin to know how it’s made to function and listen to your body’s cues that you’ve had enough.
This is where intentionality comes in. Support your body in its natural functioning. Soak up the sun. And when you need to offer your skin a break, choose coverage that supports your body, such as shade, light clothing, and a hat. If you’re going to be in prolonged exposure, use a natural, chemical free sunscreen only on your sensitive, exposed areas.
After absorbing from the outside, take in the sun from the inside. You can consume the sun by eating the abundance of seasonal produce! Just like your skin, the fruits and vegetables grown in the Earth are absorbing the power of the sun and soaking up and synthesizing nutrients.
You are designed, as a human, to be attracted to the vibrant colors, aromas, and sweetness of fruit for a reason, which very possibly is vitamin C. Humans can’t synthesize vitamin C, but your thyroid gland depends on it to produce steroids that heal wounds, regenerate skin, support immune function, and much more.
So let go of limitations or worries about the naturally-occurring sugar content and eat the fruit! Peaches, nectarines, grapefruit, pineapple, citrus, watermelon, cantaloupe ~ doesn’t just the thought of these trigger your mind to feel refreshed on a warm day?
You can also find copious amounts of vitamin C in many of the beautiful vegetables in excess at peak season. Cucumbers, celery, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, radish, lettuce, and greens contain high amounts of water and trace minerals for additional hydration.
As you nourish your system by filling up with the bounty of the season, you naturally shift from choosing inflammatory ingredients and replenish your body’s mineral stores, nourishing your immune system and preparing for the cooler months of root vegetables (with high, grounding mineral content).
And while you’re enjoying all of the mouth watering flavors of summer, take a moment to freeze, can, or dehydrate just a little bit from your weekly haul. Or if you’re feeling motivated, call over a friend, grab some bushels from the market, and go wild with a canning & preserving party. Give yourself the opportunity to have a piece of the sun on-hand when you need a pick-me-up in the depths of winter.
Summer is the optimal time to immerse yourself in nature and balance your nervous system. It’s also the time of year for the fanciest sunglasses.
Your eyes need exposure to full spectrum light to stimulate your hypothalamus (your internal hormone thermostat). This helps regulate sleep and many other functions. Absorbing full spectrum light through your eyes supports optimal vitamin D levels. This means exposure without sunglasses!
If shades are your thing, this habit takes time to adjust to. Don’t force yourself and create headaches or tension. Allow yourself to slowly create a new habit and rebuild your light tolerance for natural sunlight.
Ditching the shades and screens outdoors naturally combats our overuse of blue light. It’s not a coincidence that it’s difficult to see your screen when the sun is beaming on it. Take that as a hint!
If you save your scrolling for the evening, trade in your sunglasses for a pair of blue light blockers. This will help limit your blue light exposure while you’re indoors to support nervous system in reducing this immense strain on your eyes.
Similar to building your tolerance back up for your skin, especially if you have light eyes, take your time and build slowly. Let your eyes regulate to the sun early in the morning, and allow yourself to create a new habit while rebuilding your connection to natural sunlight. Only put on your sunglasses on in prolonged exposure when you feel yourself squinting after your eyes have had time to absorb some natural light. Strengthen your eyes by limiting blue light especially at night.
Barefoot summer is the new hot girl summer (whatever that means!) Take your shoes off as much as possible and get your bare feet on the Earth because it’s the season for SBO consumption. SBO’s are soil based organisms, and summer is the best time to get out and take advantage of these naturally occurring creatures. The dirt contains microbiome (a community of these SBOs like beneficial fungi, viruses, bacteria) which is very similar to your gut microbiome. Your gut & the dirt contain the same number of active microorganisms which are responsible for the health and functions of your environment.
SBOs help plants grow and maintain health and resiliency! As a living, breathing human, who is made up of the same elements as the Earth - oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium, iron, magnesium - there are benefits for you too!
The best way to benefit from all the wonders of the soil based organisms is to connect them directly through your skin by happily getting dirty and spending time Earthing. Earthing, or grounding, is the simple act of standing on the naked ground with your naked feet.
In addition to SBOs, the Earth carries a negative charge and when your skin touches the ground on dirt paths, sandy beaches, rain and mud puddles, and natural grassy fields, it helps to stabilize your own bioelectrical system. The connection regulates normal functions in your body such as your biological clock, circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), and cortisol levels (stress hormones).
The peak of summer is the best time to start resetting your rhythm. Not only does the sun help to regulate your mood, its purpose is to recharge and nourish. To reset your internal clock and circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle), start allowing the sun to wake you in the morning.
In the midwest the sun is rising right around 6:00 a.m. and setting around 9:30 p.m.
In the morning, allow the sunlight to stream into your windows. It may take some practice, but allow yourself to wake to the sunlight. Or at the very least give yourself 5-10 minutes upon waking to allow the natural sunlight to be the first light you’re exposed to. Step outside just before sunrise and breathe. (Or even better, roll out of bed and come to sunrise yoga so we can move, breathe, and witness the sun rise together.)
In the evening, eliminate blue light at least an hour before bed and start settling into your bedtime routine at sunset. Instead of using room darkening shades to get your body to settle down, try a flax-seed eye pillow with a few drops of a relaxing essential oil like chamomile or lavender. This way, the eye pillow will offer darkness and a gentle pressure to soothe your eyes and fall away once you’re asleep so when the sun rises, you’ll experience the light again.
Give yourself permission to notice the pace of nature. The sun begins to show some light about 30 minutes or so before the official “sunrise.” It takes another hour to really begin to glow, and doesn’t peak until mid-day. The sun then starts a slow, graceful descent…
Now I want you to try this exercise with me - Picture what your day could look like when you incorporate this pace. Begin to rise with gentle movement, nourishment, long slow deep breaths. No more waking to a sudden, loud alarm. Instead, give yourself time to awaken intentionally with natural light and full body awareness. Allow yourself time to reduce the rush. Allow your energy levels to peak around noon. Feel the warm glow of the sun throughout the afternoon as you begin your slow descent near 5:00 p.m. Turn off the pressure and unrealistic expectation of running full speed from alarm wake to bedtime crash and embrace your natural rhythm in sync with nature. Once this rhythm becomes routine, you can stop letting the man-made clock run the show.
Allow your body and mind to adapt and enter into your optimal health levels by using these tips to absorb, ingest, preserve, connect, and move in rhythm with the sun. Through these habitual changes, you’ll be able to harness the power and full potential of the sun’s energy.
Need help staying on track or gentle reminders of how to make this work in your life? Stick with our Live Unprocessed community and let us support your path.
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Shannon of Live Unprocessed is sharing her take and tips on wellness through food, movement, and mindfulness.