Summer is not my favorite season: HEAT (especially in Texas). Over-air-conditioning in any indoor public space. No school = no structure and bored kids. Friends, doctors, and colleagues (including that person who really needs to weigh in on a big decision) are out of town.
But summer doesn't have to be the worst time of the year.
Perhaps, maybe, it can even be the best.
Although Covid-19 is still out there, the vaccine is safe for nearly everyone--even if you have MS or another chronic condition, even if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Once fully immunized, you can enjoy a return to many of the pre-Covid pleasures of life. Some limitations remain, especially for those of us on immunosuppressant medications that might make us more susceptible to infection. But as case rates continue to decline, we can all feel safer to venture out, reunite with loved ones, and lead a normal life.
Here are some ideas to plan and experience your best summer yet:
1) Make a To-Do list of fun activities: My personal To-Do list usually consists of items like Change the oil, Water the plants, Pick up meds, Clean the rabbit cage, De-shed the rabbit, Vacuum the rabbit fur from my office, and Consider a less messy pet. But why not make a different list of fun stuff? You might make a shared list with family or friends, and then prioritize each item and get them on your calendar. My new list might include: Swim at Barton Springs, Go to an outdoor evening concert, and Go tubing in the San Marcos River.
2) Stay cool: Heat is a major inconvenience in many parts of the country, and it can even pose a health risk. For those of us with MS, heat can trigger symptoms and add to fatigue. To cope, stay well hydrated with ice water/cold drinks. Go outside in the early morning and evening, and stay inside during the middle of the day. Dress appropriately, and use fans to cut down on high AC bills.
3) Get out of town: Just the act of planning a vacation can improve quality of life for up to eight weeks. Declining rates of Covid-19 mean that most travel, with reasonable precautions, is safe again for people who are vaccinated. Try to find a spot near water – pool, lake, ocean – or a place that allows you to escape to a cooler climate. If your budget is tight, look for a nearby state or national park where you can camp for a weekend, or visit friends or family who can host you. See my prior blog post on lessons learned from air travel.
4) Indulge in seasonal produce: This is the best time of year to enjoy cherries, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, and so much more. Visit a new farmers market, make smoothies, and try new recipes (like this excellent gazpacho recipe.)
5) Enjoy live music and entertainment: With rates of Covid-19 falling fast, live entertainment is coming back. Search on-line for local options, like a free symphony concert or Shakespeare in the Park.
6) Set a goal and start to work on it: Always having a goal is a key strategy for coping with a chronic condition and for anyone who wants to feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Think of a new skill you'd like to learn or a house or professional project to tackle. Set a new fitness or health goal (maybe join a Walk MS or MS150 event this fall). Choose something attainable, map out the steps to get there, and go for it!
7) Read some great books: Escaping into a good book is the next best thing to embarking on your own adventure. Visit a local bookstore for inspiration. Follow friends (and me!) on Goodreads. Get a free trial on Audible. For more ideas, the New York Times publishes a fun list of summer reads. Share what you're reading in the comments below.
And while you're having fun, take good care of your health:
- Don't forget the sunscreen (SPF 30 and up) and bug spray (repellants with DEET 10-30% or picaridin are safe and effective).
- If you travel, remember your meds and good health habits (exercise, healthy diet, etc.).
- Avoid too much alcohol (women should limit to no more than one drink a day; men shouldn't drink more than two drinks/day).
- Remember preventive care.
What other ideas do you have for a great summer? Please add them to the comments below.