5 (More) Things to Love About Summer

Whether you look forward to weekends at the beach, Summer Fridays at the office,  longer days, the end of the school year, or just getting outdoors, Summer offers endless opportunity to relax and lighten up.   Here are 5 ways to get the most out of the season:

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Carol Bysiek
Founder, Lily Pad Wellness
1.  Plant a Garden.  Gardening is not only a great way to enjoy colorful blooms or fresh vegetables all summer long, it is also a great form of light exercise.  Planning the design of flower beds or planters stimulates your  creativity and encourages social interaction at the garden center and in the neighborhood.    Best of all, getting your hands in the dirt is a great way to relieve stress and forget your worries.  Click here for some gardening tips and how-to videos from HGTV.
2.  Find a local Farmer's Market.  'Farmer's markets', outdoor markets featuring fresh produce and many other items are popping up everywhere, which is a great thing.  The produce you'll find there is usually locally grown, often with fewer pesticides (ask to be sure), and is fresher than what you'll find in the supermarket.  That means more nutrition and longer shelf life at home.  Lower prices on seasonal fruits and vegetables make them an affordable, as well as  enjoyable, way to shop.  For example, click here for a list of Farmer's Markets in Bergen County, New Jersey.  A simple Google search of your area should tell you where to find a market near you.
3.  Try something new (or appreciate what isn't).  Something about summer makes it easier to open yourself up to new ideas.   You may also feel motivated to take better care of yourself.  Put these together and and you can make positive changes.  Try a new hobby or rediscover an old one, take in a sunrise, connect with an old friend, start a  gratitude journal. When you break from your usual patterns, you have a chance to see things in a new light.
4.  Simplify. The  casual nature of summer almost begs us to be more relaxed.  Simplify your dinner hour with an a no-cook  pasta sauce such as pesto, or olive oil, slivered garlic and chopped tomatoes, or pack up a Mediterranean style picnic of hummus, whole grain bread or crackers, fresh vegetables, olives, cheese, and a few lean meats and take it to the park or the porch.   
5. Rethink exercise as "active play".  The best exercise is always the one you will do, so find activities that are enjoyable and incorporate them naturally into your day.   What matters is that you move and feel refreshed, whether it is a brisk walk, a swim, taking the stairs, stretching, yoga, dancing, cleaning, Pilates in front of the television, or isometrics while standing in line.  Exercise doesn't have to be  an isolated chore or a bullet on your to-do list.    For a fun and easy game you can take just about anywhere, try Goodminton, a racquet game with two paddles and feather-tailed birdies.  Have fun! has a new look!  
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Wellness In the News!
EWG has released their 2014 Sunscreen Guide!
This wonderful resource has just released their 2014 guide to sunscreens.  Read More...
Stress Can be "Caught"
Ever wonder why some people leave you feeling drained, stressed or worried?  This study shows that just observing stress in others raises stress levels in the onlooker, so choose your environment carefully!  Read More...
Put down that doughnut!  
Eating a diet high in sugar and 'bad' fats (such as hydrogenated oils) isn't good for anyone.  But this new study shows that when this diet is combined with high levels of stress, metabolic risk increases significantly. The take away?  When under stress, it is critical to nurture yourself with healthy, nutritious food. Read more... 
Read Carol's Blogs in the Huffington Post!
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