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5 ways to make the most of summer

©iStockphoto.com/Skynesher Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/Skynesher

Family

5 ways to make the most of summer

We wait all year for the long, sunny carefree days of summer. Now that it's well underway, make sure you and your family make the best of every moment together.

We turned to Krista Roesler, a life coach in Toronto, for some expert tips on maximizing your time, and your enjoyment the rest of this season. Making the most of summer is a balance of planning, reflecting and living in the moment. It doesn't have to be daunting. Here's how to get started.

1. Make a bucket list of things you actually want to do
Even if you're not usually a "list person," organizing your summer goals in a bucket list is an inspiring way to keep your eye on the prize. To make sure your list stays inspiring and not oppressive, keep it honest and realistic. "Fill your bucket list with things you want to do and ignore anything that you feel you should do. When we do anything from a place of 'should,' we are not doing what is right for us; we are doing what someone else has told us is right -- maybe parents, media, friends or peers," says Roesler.

How do you know the difference? Trust your gut. "If anything on your list gives you a negative feeling, or is monotonous or daunting, just get rid of it," says Roesler. Stick with the items that give you a rush of excitement. Sit down with your family and narrow the list to just those things you still want to do, and then see what fits within your time frame and budget.

2. Track your progress to make sure time doesn't get away from you
Daily tasks can add up quickly and get in the way of your summer goals. Then, before you know it, the summer has gotten away from you and that family camping trip never happened. Keep yourself on track by making note of your progress, but don't beat yourself up if you don't achieve all of your goals.

"I suggest picking a day each week to check in. Look at the activities you scheduled and reflect on whether or not you did them," says Roesler. "If you did, feel proud of yourself for following through and living your life on purpose. If not, reflect on what got in the way, and what you will do differently next time. And again, feel proud of yourself for learning from your experiences."

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover three more great ways to make the most of your summer on page 2.
3. Eat seasonal and local for optimal health
To get the most out of life -- no matter what time of year it is -- you have to pay attention to your health. The summer is the easiest season in which to do this because you can reap the benefits of local produce simply by stopping by the farmer's market. But aside from feeling healthier, eating fresh, seasonal food also has a direct impact on your mood.

"In-season foods such as strawberries, apples, blueberries and lettuce are full of all the B vitamins, and also contain soluble fibre that can lessen mood swings by preventing the absorption of high levels of sugar in the blood," explains Roesler.

"Make cooking a social event, and celebrate the tastes and smells of the season with friends and family," she says.

4. Document your adventures, no matter how big or small
When you document your activities by scrapbooking, blogging or photographing them, your memories seem more vivid and last longer. Taking the time to reflect will also help you learn more from those experiences. "Reflection helps us to learn and grow. We can see what went well and what worked -- and maybe even find an opportunity in a loss," says Roesler.

Documenting your activities as a family is also a great way to celebrate your accomplishments together, instead of always focusing on what you haven't done. It's important to dream, but it's equally important to count your blessings. "We do not want to look at our lives as a lack but as full and abundant," advises Roesler.

5. Allow yourself time to breathe
Sometimes, taking a minute to just sit and breathe can be as challenging as accomplishing the biggest feat on your bucket list. Those buzzing thoughts can invade and, before you know it, you're stewing about work or feeling guilty about something you forgot to do instead of enjoying the beach with your family. Get control of those thoughts before they eat up your entire day.

"My favourite exercise in silencing frantic negative thoughts is to just notice them and become aware of them. Do not bury them, sweep them under a rug or try to fight them. Just notice them and do not judge yourself for having them," advises Roesler. "They are normal; we all get them."

When it comes to making the most of summer, the journey is just as important as the destination. Dreaming big is what life is all about. That's why the fun doesn't stop at the end of the day or the end of the trip. Make sure you and your family reflect on and document the memories you made; not only will you cherish them that much more but you'll build the foundation for next summer's plans!

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5 ways to make the most of summer

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