Gay Wellness
Posted 02/25/2022 in Self-care

How to: Stay Well all Summer or While on Vacation

How to:  Stay Well all Summer or While on Vacation

Summer and vacation time present significant risks to your health and overall wellness. Sun exposure, dehydration, drinking alcohol, and summertime eating habits can negatively impact health and well-being.

Check out our top tips for staying well — or even improving your health — during the summer months or while on holiday.

Eat your sunscreen.

Ok, I’m NOT recommending that you turn your sun protection sprays and lotions into sauces and salad dressings.

Like many things, adding a nutritional component to your topical sun protection will make it more effective. 

To reduce the sun sensitivity of your skin and risk of sun damage, eat more foods with anti-inflammatory and protective properties like:

- Healthy fats rich in Omega-3s in things like fish (especially sardines and salmon), eggs, flaxseed, and walnuts. Cooking with fish and flaxseed oils is another good way to introduce more Omega-3s into your diet.

- Other healthy saturated fats, including coconut oil, avocado oil, and organic grass-fed butter.

- Vegetables, especially leafy greens and tomatoes.

- Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, beans, nuts, and green or black tea.

Summer sun skin protection starts from the inside.

Protect your skin from the outside, as well. Now, let’s take a look at other things you can do to protect your skin from sun damage.

Obviously, one of the most natural and safe ways to protect yourself from the sun is to dress up and stay in the shade. If you’re going to be in the sun for a long period of time, wear a hat and cover up any part of your body that will be exposed to direct sunlight. Typical summer fabrics have SPFs between four and seven, which isn’t super high, but every little bit helps.

It’s also important to start with limited sun exposure after you’ve been out of it over the winter, then build up over time. This will give your body time to produce melanin, which will protect your skin from dangerous sun rays.

Finally, always apply sunscreen that’s right for your skin type. Use one with a higher SPF if you’re fair. You may be able to go with a lower SPF if you have darker skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends a minimum SPF of 30 for everyone. The safest sunscreens are mineral based, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Your druggist, physician, or other medical professional can advise you on the best sun protection for you.

Keep getting your vitamin D.

Everybody (almost) knows that a primary source of vitamin D is sun exposure. So why are we recommending that you keep taking vitamin D as a top summer or vacation wellness tip?

Because issues like skincare and cancer concerns, extreme summer temperatures related to global warming, and busy work schedules are keeping people indoors and away from direct sun exposure.

Vitamin D is critical to keeping our bodies working properly. It supports immunity, improves mood, and defends against cancer. Unfortunately, most people today have a vitamin D deficiency that negatively impacts their health and wellness. 

Keep taking vitamin D supplements from a reputable source (no cheap, chancy vitamins) at recommended levels. The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults take at least 600 IU of vitamin D each day. Experts at Mayo also believe that 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D from a supplement is generally safe, should help you achieve an adequate blood level of vitamin D, and may have additional health benefits. Check with your healthcare provider to find out for sure.

Maintaining proper vitamin D levels will leave you feeling better this summer and all year long.

two gay men roller skating by beach

Stay hydrated.

Proper hydration is critical all year long. Your body is about two-thirds water and it’s essential to keeping it functioning properly. However, drinking enough water is especially important in the summertime sun and heat.

A good benchmark for a normal day is to drink about two-thirds of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, a person weighing 100 pounds should take in 67 ounces of water daily. Add 12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes you spend in the heat or sweating.

If you don’t see yourself drinking 67 or more ounces of plain water each day, add some bubbles or low-calorie flavor infusions to make it more palatable.

Control your drinking.

Trips to the beach, visits to vineyards, stops at street fairs, and backyard barbecues present opportunities to imbibe more than at other times of the year. Pay attention to your drinking habits during the summer months or while on vacation. Enjoy yourself, but drink consciously. It will help you feel better and keep you from putting on drinking pounds. 

Always make it a point to never drink and drive. Uber and Lyft are available all summer and at most vacation destinations. 

Eat the rainbow. And not just during Pride month.

Fruits and vegetables are readily available throughout the summer. That should be the case this year, even with today’s supply chain issues. 

Make sure you eat fruits and veggies of every color of the rainbow regularly. Half your plate should always be vibrantly colored vegetables, the other half lean proteins. This combination will provide you with solid nutrition and help you stay strong and fit. Plus it’s an easy formula to follow when compared with a food pyramid or other dietary guidelines.

If you have health or weight issues, you should consult with your doctor or dietician before making any changes to your eating habits.

Expand your wellness routine. 

Summer’s longer days, brighter sunshine, and warmer temperatures leave everyone feeling more optimistic and energized. This is the ideal mindset to set and achieve new health and wellness goals. Think of it as New Year’s 2.0, but this time you’re more likely to achieve your resolutions.

Take on something that you’ve always wanted to do, such as starting an exercise routine, trying out a new sport, meditating, or improving your diet. It’s likely that by the first day of fall or end of your vacay, you’ll be fit, a pro at your sport, a meditation master, or a healthy eater.

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