Last Long Weekend of the Summer

5 Ways to Celebrate This Summer’s Last Long Weekend

Summer. It’s glorious. All that sunshine and warmth and such. Shorts, sandals and sunscreen without having to cower indoors for fear of freezing.

Part of summer’s appeal is its transitory nature. Much like the elusive love who slips further and further away the harder we try to hold on to them, summer’s here for a good time—but the clock is always ticking.

Short of moving closer to the equator, there isn’t much you can do to extend summer. You get what you get, and it’s gone before you know it. If you don’t make the best of it while it’s here, the best you can do is bundle up warm and start planning for next summer.

Dr. Azadeh Aalai is a psychologist who teaches at Queensborough Community College in New York. She says that while summer is invigorating for its seemingly limitless potential, “the possibility of accomplishing everything—or nothing—[depends] on how that precious time is spent.”

So, to help you make the most of what little is left of summer, we’ve put together a warm weather bucket list of things to try cramming into your Labour Day weekend. The idea here isn’t to try them all. That would be so stressful it would be counterintuitive. But you have three days to enjoy before everyone returns to the perennial grind we know and love as fall. You might as well make the best of it.

1.      Have an outdoor adventure

Summer is a time for the great outdoors. Especially if you live somewhere that will soon be covered by snow. True, winter sports can be amazing, but let’s concentrate on things that don’t involve the risk of frostbite for now.

The summer sun is great for inspiring physical activity. Even people who’ve neglected exercising for months are game for going outside and doing something that might make them sweat. And there are so many things to do that are only around for a limited time, you can’t help but feel the urge to do them all.

Lace up your boots and go for a good long hike. Check your tire pressure and take your bicycle out for a spin.  Or dig out that bathing suit and hit the beach. Even if a public pool is your only option, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as hopping into cool water on a hot day.

Take advantage of the heat and extended hours of daylight simply by adding more walking into your plans. And let yourself stray into parks—if only to sit under a tree on occasion. In Japan, this practice is called Shinrin-yoku, which roughly translates as “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” A 2010 study published in the journal Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine studied the phenomenon’s ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Long story short: just being in nature does wonders for both your nervous and immune systems.

Try taking at least one day away from screens to reconnect with nature. Research shows that periodic unplugging helps your brain process the rapid-fire stimuli of everyday life. And who knows, you might also stave off a vitamin D deficiency in the process.

2.      Be a tourist in your own town

Summer is traditionally the time of vacations. And when we think vacation, we often think of hopping on a plane and jetting off to somewhere exotic. Or at the very least going on a road trip requiring hours of driving.

But we’re talking about one weekend here. Sure, it’s a long one, but still . . .

Have you ever considered being a tourist in your own town? Stop thinking of your home turf in every day terms and try seeing it through the eyes of someone who would need a passport to visit. Before long, it’s like the city itself changes before your eyes.

Visit the local tourism website and make a list of all the attractions you haven’t seen yet. Then prioritize them by which ones you want to do the most—and start doing them. Already done everything in your town? Then get out of town, but not far. See what surrounding communities have to offer and make a day of it.

The trick to vacationing, according to Aalai, is not the distance travelled but the break in routine. Losing yourself in unfamiliar surroundings—even if you haven’t gone far—is great for relieving stress and helping you unwind. Finding new ways of forgetting about everyday obligations on the weekend ultimately makes you happier and healthier, and more creative and productive.

3.      Dine outdoors, a lot

Perhaps you’re the kind of person who’s happiest breaking bread with others. Sharing a meal with friends and loved ones is a great way to deepen your interpersonal connections and make us feel happier about your station in life. And summer offers the rare opportunity to enjoy a meal al fresco—in the open air.

Whether you host an end of summer blowout in your backyard, take a picnic lunch to a park, or enjoy some fine cuisine on a restaurant patio, dining outside is a wonderful way to connect with nature—see above—and the people that matter the most. Savour not only the food but also the company and embrace every moment.

Fretting about the clock running out on summer only wastes the precious little bit of warm weather still available to us. Instead, squeeze every moment out of your end of summer dining to make memories you’ll cherish for years to come.

4.      Take in something local on a whim

Speaking of cherished memories, did you ever notice that some of your happiest recollections involve a certain spark of spontaneity? With this in mind, try an off-the-cuff adventure right in your own backyard and see how much fun you have.

Check the local paper for community events and make the rounds. Who knows what you’ll find? A street festival? A flea market? An outdoor movie screening? Let life surprise you; see where it wants to take you. You never know what you might discover about your neighbourhood, your neighbours, or yourself in the process.

Make a deal with yourself to leave the TV off all weekend—you can get it all on-demand later—and get ready to embrace the lesser known elements of your surroundings.

5.      Spend time with a good book

For many, there’s no substitute for truly losing yourself in a book. Unlike any other media, reading requires your mind to fill in certain sensory gaps by suggesting sights, sounds and smells. And when we really connect with a story, it’s an immersive experience unlike any other.

Sadly, studies suggest that reading is not as popular as it used to be. With all the pressures of keeping up in the digital age, it seems that reading for sheer enjoyment is the first thing people sacrifice to make more time for work and other pursuits. Polls suggest that adults only read four books a year on average, with as many as one in four not reading at all.

But taking time to read has so many benefits. It’s great for your memory, helps you focus, and stimulates brain activity. And aside from giving you a better command of the language, connecting with a diverse range of characters on the page gives you greater empathy in real life. It literally makes you a better human being.

So, carve out a little time on Labour Day to cozy up with a book you’ve been putting off far too long. If you can read it outside, under a tree, perhaps in a hammock, you can also enjoy the tranquility of Shinrin-yoku at the same time.

And if said tranquility encourages you to put the book down and close your eyes for a quick nap, carpe diem!

Make the most of summer while you can

Like sand through the hourglass, the last days of warm weather slip away from us, often completely unnoticed. Don’t let the last long weekend of sunshine get the better of you.

It only takes a little planning to take full advantage of the Labour Day weekend. Make an effort to spend some time reconnecting with nature. Get to know your town better by acting like an outsider, or just by spontaneously getting off the beaten path and exploring some new aspect of your community. Take the time to dine in sunlight, whether it’s a picnic lunch or getting reacquainted with your barbecue. And make a date with a book, a hammock, and maybe a margarita or two.

Before you know it, the dog days of summer will become the doldrums of autumn, and you’ll have to wade through three seasons of cooler temperatures to revel in the splendor of the sun again. But with this guide as your template for living it up as the last rays of summer flicker out, you’ll make enough warm and happy memories to help make it through again.