Two weeks from today, my kids will be back in school. I can hardly believe it. Every year the summer seems to get shorter.

After spending 10 incredible days in London helping Tsh, I was looking forward to returning home and enjoying the rest of the summer with my family.

Upon returning home, I struggled with what most struggle with after international travel, the dreaded jet lag. But I also have discovered that the fatigue and stress of international travel tends to linger a little longer for me because of an autoimmune disease that I was diagnosed with last year.

Before and during the London trip, I mentally told myself that I needed to stay healthy. Stay healthy. Stay healthy. And I did! It was incredible. I was able to maintain my AIP food plan, I rested when I needed to, and I was able to adequately manage the stress of driving on the other side of the road. It was an amazing week!

When I got home, I wasn’t constantly telling myself to stay healthy, stay healthy, stay healthy. I was just concentrating on trying to be my normal at-home self. A few days after I got home, my mind and body relaxed and I began to feel sick, and the fatigue was intense.

After a little bit of research, I learned that this is called the “let-down effect.” The way we relax and reduce stress after an intense time of work differs from person to person. Based on the articles I read about the “let-down effect,” it’s best to figure out for yourself what works for you and how you can de-stress.

Here are six things that are helping me de-stress from a busy work season, allowing me to savor and save my life this summer:

1. Read

I am reading through the Inspector Gamache series of novels by Louise Penny. I started them at the beginning of 2019 and I’m currently on book #12.

I haven’t loved every one of them, but the fictional characters and storylines of the cozy, small town of Three Pines have been friendly companions this summer.

2. A “not for today” motto

A little over a year ago I was helping a friend move. Our to-do list was long and we had moments when we looked at her list and we were overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion. At one point, after looking at the list, I made eye contact with her and said, “That’s not for today.” The relief came almost immediately.

That long to-do list became more manageable with that simple breath statement, “That’s not for today.” It gave us the freedom to let the overwhelming to-do list go and just focus on what we needed to do that day.

There have been a few moments since then—and especially this summer—when I have become overwhelmed with items on my list, and I have spoken those words, “That’s not for today,” out loud to myself.

This is not an excuse for my procrastination (because as an Ennegram 9, that’s one of the things that I struggle with) but there are some decisions that are okay to put off until tomorrow.

3. Card & board games

The schedule of summer has been a little different for everyone in my family this year. My older kids (19 & 17) both drive and have four jobs between the two of them. My younger kids (14 & 12) have been involved in playing softball, rehearsing, and performing in a musical.

Family time has been few and far between. I can count on one hand the amount of times that we have sat down for dinner together as a family. Honestly, it’s not our favorite.

My daughter is usually the one who makes sure when we are all together that we also play a game. Laughter can de-stress just about anyone!

One of our favorite card games this summer is Cat Chaos. It’s a fact-paced matching game with names like William Shakespaw, Pawdrey Hepburn, and Notorius C.A.T. The names alone make you giggle.

A board game favorite this summer is Telestrations! This game brings tears to our eyes because of the hilarity & interpretation of our drawings (none of us can draw!)

4. Simple facial care

After a recommendation from Hannah on the Lazy Sisters Podcast, I started using the facial care products from Some Call Me Crunchy and I haven’t turned back since. Who would’ve thought that cleaning your face with oil would work? I’m here to tell you that it does! (And a bonus? I got to meet Erienne of Some Call Me Crunchy in London!)

5. Walking

A big way for me to de-stress is to walk.

For the past few years, my summer walking feet have been comforted by a pair of New Balance tennis shoes or a pair of Ecco sandals. I’ve walked the cobblestone streets of Oxford, the Tuscan hills in Italy, and the simple sidewalks of my hometown with these shoes and not once have I complained of foot pain.

6. Water

It’s important to stay hydrated no matter what, and for the past few years I’ve carried my Simple Modern water bottle with me everywhere. I took the 9 oz. with me to London because it fits easily inside my travel purse and I use the 17 oz. at home for everyday use.

What’s saving your life during this season? How do you de-stress after an intense time of work?