Activities that will help you relax and make the back-to-school period smoother.

As we dive headfirst into the summer months, many activities can help us stay productive while still having fun during the warmest time of the year. However, as classes, internships and job hunting loom, the summer mood can shift from mindful to stressful.

One of the best ways to reduce stress and boost your levels of calmness is by practicing mindfulness. If you have an Apple Watch you know what I’m talking about – we get those mindfulness notifications all the time. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and meditation, and is a practice that helps improve well-being by clearing your mind and focusing on the present moment. This practice increases awareness of your mind, body and surroundings, while also making you feel calmer and less stressed. It also enhances your ability to respond to your feelings and cope with difficult times.

Practicing mindfulness can help reduce the stress of going back to school in the fall and help you become more self-aware while looking for internships or job openings. 

To help you kickstart your mindfulness journey, we’ve curated a list of activities that will incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine and help make your back-to-school transition smoother.

Practice yoga

Picture of a silhouette of a woman doing yoga.
Picture by Kike Vega via Unsplash.

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga. It improves strength, balance and flexibility, enhances your heart health and can even improve your sleeping schedule. The list is endless!

However, yoga can feel intimidating at first for many people, as it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. It’s important to know what type of yoga you’re looking for since there are many options that range from hot power to slow sessions. First of all, let’s break it down: what is yoga?

Yoga is a collection of physical, mental and spiritual techniques aimed at integrating your mind, body and spirit to achieve a state of well-being. There are many ways you can practice yoga. You can get your own yoga mat and follow a guide on how to do yoga at home or even join a yoga community.

Park Yoga Toronto offers donation-based summer yoga classes that take place in parks across the GTA. Find a park near your neighbourhood and join a community that will help you improve your mindfulness and boost your health.

Use your favourite songs to boost mindfulness

Picture of a woman listening to music sitting on a windowsill next to a dog.
Picture by Vitaly Gariev via Unsplash.

I know this might sound wild, but the simple act of listening to music can boost mindfulness.

Listening to music affects your neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which influence your mood. While dopamine influences your focus, concentration, memory and motivation, serotonin impacts your mood, sleep patterns and anxiety levels. If you enjoy singing or playing an instrument, music-making can synchronize breathing patterns and promote relaxation by reducing the hormone cortisol, aka the stress hormone.

Find a space free of distractions, become aware of your surroundings and body sensations and give it a try to close your eyes as well. These tips will help you relax and reflect during your listening session, enhancing mindfulness and helping you to find your zen.

Start a sunrise walk routine

Picture of a silhouette of a person standing holding a dog as the sun rises.
Picture by Helen Cramer via Unsplash.

Instead of just rising out of bed, why not rise with the sun? With its origins in Buddhism as well, walking meditations are a wonderful opportunity to boost your daily dose of mindfulness.

Engaging in a walking meditation session can make you feel more grounded, balanced and serene, while deepening your awareness of your surroundings, body and thoughts. Just a heads up, this isn’t a race – keep a slow pace and focus on yourself, feeling the breeze and the environment as you walk.

During these sessions, people often walk in circles, back and forth or in a straight line, but having a designated path where you can walk is also a great call. If you’re near the Humber College Lakeshore campus, consider strolling along the Colonel Samuel Smith Park trail. There, you can immerse yourself in your sensations and enjoy the jaw-dropping view of the sunrise and the Toronto Skyline.

A sunrise walking routine won’t just help you alleviate stress and energize you for the day ahead, it will also boost your mindfulness and support an easy back-to-school transition.

Play puzzle games

Picture of puzzle games on blue textile.
Picture by Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash.

If you love puzzles and brain games, you can have a blast while also boosting your mindfulness levels. Brain games are not only entertaining but also beneficial for your cognitive health. They can help improve memory retention as we age, reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and enhance attention span and reaction times.

By playing brain games you’re exercising the left side of your brain, which is responsible for tasks related to logic, sequencing and linear thinking. Games like sudoku, crossword puzzles and anagrams are best friends with your left-side brain.

If you’re not a fan of board games, numerous online platforms offer a wide variety of puzzle games. I personally play the New York Times games every day – they have crosswords, spelling games and matching challenges that are updated daily.

Incorporating brain games into your routine is a great option to keep your brain sharp throughout the summer while also boosting mindfulness. It’s a fun and effective way to stay mentally engaged and challenged.


Picture of a person gardening.
Picture by Sandie Clarke via Unsplash.

Getting your hands dirty is another excellent activity to reduce stress during the summer. Not to mention how your neighbours will be jealous of your beautifully manicured backyard.

Gardening isn’t only a physical activity involving a lot of bending, reaching and digging, but it also has numerous mental health benefits. It can reduce stress and anxiety while also improving your nutrition by allowing you to grow your own fruits and veggies. Gardening, though, can be quite challenging despite its mindfulness benefits. So, make sure to follow a guide on how to start your own garden before you begin digging holes in your backyard.

If starting from scratch seems overwhelming, you can also join a community garden in your neighbourhood. Community gardens offer opportunities to increase your sense of wellness and build connections with your neighbours.

Get out there, get your hands dirty and watch your stress melt away as your plants and vegetables grow!

Picture of a woman sitting on a bench overlooking a mountain.
Picture by Sage Friedman via Unsplash.

These activities will help you practice mindfulness during the summer, reducing stress and making the transition back to the fall semester a smooth one.

If there’s any activity that helps you practice mindfulness, share it with us @shareignite.

Feature image courtesy of William Farlow via Unsplash.

Are you looking for spots to bring your furry friend along with you? Check out the best dog-friendly spots in Toronto!

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