It’s July. It’s officially officially summer (yes, I know the equinox passed us already). There is something about July in NYC that is….. Let’s say, distinct. Kids are out of school, but the hoards of people haven’t fully left the city yet (like in August). It’s hot, humid, and the streets smell of warm trash (not fun). There are constant fireworks going off in most Brooklyn neighborhoods (as well as the occasional gun shot). Quick thunderstorms roll through, sometimes cancelling your favorite outdoor event (be it a movie screening, concert, or yoga in the park). Not the best time to be in Brooklyn if you’re a dog who’s scared of those things (which I have). And sometimes can be a hard time if you’re just a regular ole human.
So, how best to manage it all….. And, dare I say, enjoy the summer in the city! As a therapist in Brooklyn (and having lived here for 17 years in August)…. I have finely tuned some of my summer survival skills.
Self care can encompass lots of different things, depending on who you talk to. Some poo-poo it as spending money on yourself. This can be true, but does not have to be the case. Let’s start with the foundational basics, that are all basically FREE & go from there….
1) HYDRATION- Please drink a glass of water every morning when you wake up, and try your best to continue drinking a hydrating beverage throughout the day. Rosé or your favorite summer craft brew don’t count. But given the heat index, and the propensity for summer social drinking events…. make an effort to get in the habit of hydrating throughout the day, your body will thank you.
2) SLEEP- Depending on your air conditioning situation, and being able to sleep through the summer night noises of Brooklyn (fireworks, gun shots, etc).... Sleeping in the summer can be a challenge. If you have AC, use it when you need it! It can also act as a white noise to help drown out the street noises. White noise machines (or apps) can also be helpful. If you don’t have AC- maybe try taking a cool shower before you go to bed, or putting an ice pack on your neck (or anywhere comfortable on your body) as you fall asleep (a cool or frozen washcloth can also do the trick).
3) EAT LOCAL & FRESH- Summer is my favorite time to eat in NYC. We may live in a giant-ass city, but we are surrounded by farms ( Sign up for your local CSA, swing by one of the many the farmer’s markets, or now you can even buy a one-off CSA box from Fresh Direct-so you don’t have to commit to a full season, if that’s too much). Enjoy all the local and delicious fresh fruits & veggies.
4) TAKE OFF SOME DAYS OFF- What I hear over and over from people (and experience in my own life too) is that the summer weekends are already booked up with activities and events from now through Labor day. Us NYers are busy in the summer. It can be hard to avoid it. There are so many things to do, and FOMO is a real thing. But please please please take a day off every now and then. And not a day off that is then re-filled with house chores & laundry (tho that has to get done at some point). But a true day off to recharge & rest. If a full day is too much, start with a part of the day: a lazy morning or evening at home, or (GASP) a day that has nothing planned and see where the day takes you. You might end up lounging in Prospect Park for hours or going to a movie (I love going to the movies in the summer, and will probably write a whole separate blog post for that- but basically it’s a lovely deeply air conditioned escape). If you prefer not to shell out the $17+ for a movie ticket, maybe you end up at one of the many free outdoor movie screenings (not as air conditioned, but just as fun).
5) TRY SOMETHING NEW- NewYorkers are creatures of habit. We take the same trains to the same neighborhoods, often going to our same favorite spots with our same favorite people. Having favorites is great- I love that about NY. But the summer is also prime time to try something new, and there is scientific evidence that trying something new can be helpful for improving your mood. Just sayin’. It also does not have to cost money to try something new (though, of course it easily can). Try a free fitness class, aforementioned free movie screenings, free concerts, free theater, go to Governor’s Island (first ferry is free) and escape the city, go for a hike in the trails/wooded areas of Central or Prospect Park. The list can go on and on, and there are many places on the interwebs to find such lists. And if you need guidance, reach out & I’m happy to point you towards some fun, free options that you might like to try. The specifics don’t matter that much...The point is to mix up your routine a bit, and you might even find a new “favorite” thing to do.
As I tell a lot of my clients- don’t try to make all the changes at once. Try just one small step or action, and try to make it sustainable. Reach out if you have any questions, need any ideas, or have your own favorite free NYC selfcare items to add in :)
Happy July, y’all.
ps- I’m not southern, I just really like using y’all. And it basically has been a part of my vocabulary after spending time in Baton Rouge in 2004.
(I took this cover photo at this year’s FREE Shakespeare in the Park)