“I remember counting days down ’til the year could be done / So I could scatter all my notebooks on the prep school lawn / And disappear again into a summer’s bliss…” – from the song “Loose Leaves” by Bright Eyes
Okay, so you’re not a kid anymore. The months of June, July, and August no longer mean complete freedom. If anything, summer is even more depressing because you would much rather be outside enjoying the gorgeous weather than stuck inside an office with sub-par air conditioning. Just because you’ll never again enjoy summer the way you did when you were a kid, doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it. Changing up your routine in even the slightest way can do wonders for your psyche.
If you’re stuck at work throughout the summer, but still want to make the best of it — you can. Here are some easy ways you can enjoy yourself more.
1. Drink fruit-infused water
Okay, so you can’t drink margaritas at 10AM like you did in college anymore, but you probably shouldn’t even if you could. Enhance your plain old water throughout the summer by combining different fruits (and some vegetables) to create a flavorful drink that will keep you hydrated and healthy all day. Fill a fruit infuser with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and even cucumbers. Next up, fill it with water, and enjoy a summer-themed drink full of natural sugars that won’t leave you hitting the wall at two in the afternoon.
2. Make a summer playlist
You might not be 18 anymore, but hearing “Doin’ Time” by Sublime on a beautiful summer day will certainly make you feel like you are. I don’t mean you should turn the office into a rave or house party, but there’s nothing wrong with switching off the elevator music and turning on some Bob Marley during the dog days of summer. Check out Pandora or Spotify for some summer-themed playlists to put on while you’re getting through the mountain of paperwork on your desk.
3. Redecorate your workspace
Everyone can use a change in scenery every once in a while. If you’re tethered to your desk from 9-5, at least give yourself the pleasure of redecorating it a bit to fit the theme of summer. Get a small Zen garden, put pictures up of last year’s family vacation, and hang a map with possible destinations for this summer pinned. If you can’t be outside to enjoy the season, then bring the season to you.
4. Brighten up your workspace
Don’t just redecorate your cubicle — make it brighter! Keep windows and blinds open to let some natural light in. If you’re not lucky enough to be close to a window, you can always bring in an extra lamp or two to make your office space not so dark and depressing. You’d be surprised how your mood can improve with an increase in lighting.
5. Take advantage of casual Fridays
If you want to feel like your still one of the boys of summer, you have to dress the part. Just like redecorating your workplace can have an effect on your mood, so can redecorating yourself. Wear light and looser-fitting clothing. Lighter-colored clothing will certainly make you feel as if you’re walking down the boardwalk (or at least like you’ll be heading there after 5:00 rolls around). As long as your dress code allows it, take your summer outfit to the extreme.
6. Pack summer foods for lunch
Some foods just taste better in the summer. Ditch the usual Chinese leftovers and spend some time the night before preparing a lunch that won’t bog you down for the rest of the day. Eating barbecue chicken, sweet corn, and a summer salad for lunch will certainly put you in a summer mood. So many fruits and vegetables are in season throughout the summer, so be sure to take advantage of them.
7. Eat outside
Don’t just change your diet; change your eating habits altogether. Enjoying the summer sun on your half-hour lunch break will give you a bit of a reprieve from your dreary office environment. Spending time outside also has health benefits, from the fresh air to the vitamins your skin absorbs from the sun. Just try not to get any of that barbecue sauce on your nice new shirt.
8. Come in early and get your work done
We all know the days are much longer in the summer. That doesn’t necessarily mean we take advantage of these extra hours of sunlight. Start waking up a bit earlier, and get to the office before anyone else does. You’ll have some quiet time to get your priorities in order, and get a head start on your workload. Getting started earlier might even allow you to clock out early so you can get some extra daylight to enjoy in the evening.
9. Switch up your commute or routine
Doing things the same way, day in and day out is the most effective way to end up in a rut. The summer is no time to be stuck in a rut. If you start waking up earlier, you may have time to bike or walk to work, or at least explore the area around the office a bit more than you had before. You could also eat breakfast at a different diner or deli. Try taking a different route home than you usually do. Summer is a great time for change. Don’t stay stagnant during what should be the most active months of the year.
10. Leave work at work
In today’s modern world, our 9-5 jobs tend to control our lives. Your boss can call you whenever he needs you. Emails pile up and will cause your phone to beep all night. Do something about it. When you’re not at work, turn your phone and computer off. Don’t answer emails, no matter how pressing they may seem. You might be stuck in an office for 40 hours a week throughout the best time of the year, but that still leaves you about 100 waking hours each week to enjoy yourself like you did when you were a kid.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com