Taking Care of Your Physical & Mental Health this Summer

After a challenging year, the summer brings new opportunities to refresh and restart. However, it is important to increase both your physical and mental health. The following activities will help you stay focused, stay strong, and stay healthy.

Swimming works out the entire body and is a great way to stay cool in the summer. (G. Sylejmani (UnSplash))


Swimming is a fun activity that is also a great way to stay healthy and keep fit. Also, it can be completed by people of any age, so you can even take your grandparents with you. It helps to relax your mind and alleviate stress while also working on your body. Summertime is the best time to go swimming since it not only helps you physically and mentally but also helps you handle the high temperatures in a fun and familiar way.

  • Don’t have a pool at home? You can visit the YMCA in East Rutherford or the Rutherford Community Aquatic Center.
  • In a professional swimming pool, you’re going to be separated from other athletes by lanes, so COVID safety measures can still be met.
  • Swimming is good for our health by strengthening our muscles, helps to keep your heart rate up, helps maintain your lung health. Even better, it exercises the whole body.

If you’re going to start swimming you should start with two or three days a week, and build your routine to include more days. Make sure to take enough rest to catch your breath in between laps. If 30 seconds of rest is not enough between swims, then adapt your time to what works best for you.

You can’t swim too slowly either. Swim comfortably and you will enjoy it for a lifetime. Don’t worry about how fast other people are swimming, unless you are preparing to enter a lane with other swimmers. Be honest with yourself about the pace you can maintain. If you are not a fast swimmer, do not enter a lane with fast swimmers.


Junior Aurora Marin completed meditation at the Becton Wellness Center. (J. Sanchez)


One thing that was emphasized a lot by the school and the Child Study Team this school year is mental health and how important it is for us to take care of it as much as we take care of our physical health. Meditation is a really good exercise that also has really good emotional benefits, those being:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations.
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Reduces negative emotions
  • Increases patience and tolerance

In a school year as stressful as this one, meditation could be crucial for many students who may feel isolated during the summer. Meditation can be done in any space as long as it’s quiet, so your backyards, bedrooms, and living rooms could all be great places to practice mindfulness while being safe as you meditate. Too many distractions at home? There are also meditation sessions offered at the East Rutherford Library.

According to Sarah Garone, writer of “9 Tips for Meditating When You’re an Overthinker” some tips to start meditating on your own are:

  • To create a consistent schedule, having a set time to meditate lets you prepare and makes you aware that it’s time to relax.
  • Create a meditative space, it’s hard to relax and ease the mind when your surroundings are noisy and busy.
  • Start with some breathwork, controlled breathwork is important to still your mind
  • Add some relaxing music, usually music that you associate with peace and tranquility.
English teacher, Mrs. Sozzo, shows offer her small deck garden where she grows broccoli, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. (K. Sozzo)


In the classroom, our teachers often encourage us to develop a ‘growth mindset’. This way of thinking helps us to accept new challenges, adapt to change, and reach our goals. Coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, she describes the term in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writing, “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” An easy way to develop this view outside of the classroom is through gardening and the cultivation of crops and flora. Gardening can have a positive effect on your mental health. According to a study published in the Preventive Medicine Reports journal, gardening can increase levels of serotonin in the brain, the hormone that makes you happy. It also helps to enhance mental health by providing something that we can control in a world that can often feel out of our control.

All you need is one seed to get started. If you are thinking about starting this hobby to improve your mental health, there are a few things you need to know:

  • New Jersey’s annual temperature or “plant hardiness” zone is within 6-7, meaning there are certain plants that do well in our climate (like tomatoes, squash, pepper, daisies, hydrangeas, and roses) and plants that won’t survive (like agave, palm, and avocados). Be sure to check the “cold-hardiness” or “heat-tolerance” suggestions when purchasing plants to make sure you’ll have success in the garden.
  • If you are starting a plant from seed, it is better to start the germination indoors until the sprout is about 3-6 inches (depending on the type of plant). This avoids menaces, like squirrels, from eating your seeds before they have a chance to grow. This also helps the plant to become strong enough to survive in harsh weather conditions.
  • Speaking of weather, when it is time to move the plant outside, slowly allow the sapling to acclimate to the temperature. Place the plant in a shady place outdoors for a couple of hours and slowly increase the time spent outside for about a week. This plastic version of a Victorian belle conch will allow you to introduce the sapling to the elements while creating a mini greenhouse that supports growth.
  • Once plants reach maturity and begin to flower or fruit, you may need to protect them from the hungry bellies of rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, and deers. Fencing can keep lower critters at bay, while netting will help with larger pests.


Garret Morgan Mountain offers trails for inexperienced and expert hikers. (J. Szewczyk)


Hiking is another great way to spend your time during the summer months. The blue clear skies with a cloud here or there, the nice warm breeze, the hot sunshine that is coming down from the skies, the amazing feeling you get when you reach the top, sometimes feeling as if you’re on top of the world.

Remember to stay safe when hiking by knowing and following the restrictions and rules, never going alone, wearing proper shoes, always having a first aid kit (even a small one), and a way to contact help. Since COVID is still a risk, Hiking is a great means of staying healthy while following social-distancing guidelines.

Hiking is a great cardio workout that has numerous benefits. For example, hiking lowers your risk of heart disease and helps improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Hiking can even boost your mood. After all, being out in the fresh air can never do you wrong.

Hiking is a great way to let loose and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty. Some of the best trails near us are the Garret Mountain Reservation Loop Trail located in Little Falls, NJ, and the High Mountain Summit Loop in Haledon, NJ.

Yoga strengthens the body and mind. (K. Vega (UnSplash))


Yoga is another great activity to improve both your physical and mental health. Even better, with the help of YOUTube, you can complete it in the comfort of your own home.

Yoga can be easy for some and difficult for others, it mostly depends on how flexible you are and how much you focus on your breathing. In order to stay safe while doing Yoga, know the moves and know your own body’s limitations. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. If you continue to work at it, you will be able to go further each time.

Regular practice of yoga can help reduce stress, body inflammation, reduce anxiety, can help improve heart health, improves the quality of life, and sleep patterns. Wellness advisor, Mrs. Gatto explains, “It is very beneficial to the mind and body to practice yoga. Yoga is good for the body because it promotes flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular health. It is also good for the mind because it is a moving meditation, and therefore promotes well-being, mood, attention, and focus.”

Yoga is another amazing yet simple way to get some exercise in the summer. The activity doesn’t take long to do either, it can be done within 5 mins, or you can complete longer sessions, if you are more experienced. Once we return to school, you can visit the Wellness Center for more Yoga sessions.