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Make Wellness Your Priority This Summer
By Kalli Musto, MS, RDN, LDN, Wellness Coach for Highmark Inc.

Summer 2020 is shaping up to look different than years past, which may stir up many emotions as we think about our seasonal rituals and routines. It’s important to try to reframe any negative thoughts and use this summer to prioritize wellness. By focusing on the physical, nutritional, social and emotional aspects of health, you can develop new routines and rituals, and even strengthen bonds with your loved ones.

Set an activity goal
Is there a fitness goal you’ve always wanted to achieve or an activity you’ve been itching to try? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to run a 5K, learn a new sport, or improve your basketball skills. Having a set goal to focus on is a great way to engage in friendly competition and improve physical health. The goal should be straightforward and reflect on what you want to accomplish. After your goal is set, track your progress from the very beginning of the season so you can see how far you have come by the end of summer.

Create a family activity calendar
Finding new things to do each day may be difficult, but using a calendar to plan ahead can provide some variety in your day-to-day routine. Let your family help pick the activities so that each day of the week has something for everyone.

Start a garden
Gardening can help you connect with your food and allow you to learn about fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It’s a great way to easily access fresh produce and also provides a healthy outlet for stress. If space is tight or gardening sounds intimidating, try starting with a small porch garden. Vegetables that thrive in Western Pennsylvania include zucchini, carrots, potatoes, spinach, arugula and cabbage. Fruits that harvest well include watermelons, tomatoes, strawberries, and blackberries. Eating a variety of colorful produce provides our bodies with important fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to support the immune system.

Try new ways to cook your favorite foods
Embrace the warm weather and try grilling something new, such as peaches or pineapple. Grilling brings out different flavors in food and can transform a boring side dish or entrée into something new and exciting.

Be mindful for your wellness
Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing one’s attention, thoughts, feelings and sensations on the present moment and accepting them without judgment. Any task or moment is an opportunity to practice mindfulness, whether you are eating, walking, playing with your children, talking to a spouse or friend, or reading a book. Bringing your attention to the moment involves using all of your senses to notice the pleasurable and memorable elements that may otherwise be missed. Wandering thoughts to the past or future can derail our present experience; mindfulness allows us to be more present in life so we can truly experience the moments. It invites us to experience our lives more purposefully and fully.

Even though summer may be different this year, try to use this season as an opportunity to focus on embracing your health and living your best life.

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