Many of us live in a fast-paced environment which means that when we’re time poor and under stress, self-care can go out the window.

But for many, not looking after ourselves can lead to low mood, stress and anxiety. 

Self-care is critical for the body, mind and soul. Without it, we can burn out and our quality of life can suffer tremendously. Treating ourselves doesn’t have to be timely or expensive, recent research by Love Fresh Cherries showed that 73 per cent would rather treat themselves to something inexpensive such as cherries or chocolate compared to a car or a holiday. We can practice true self-care on budget with these five simple ways to nurture ourselves throughout the summer…

Enjoy a punnet of seasonal cherries

Cherries are the perfect summer treat and are highly nutritious. Sweet cherries provide a great source of antioxidants including anthocyanins, quercetin, carotenoids, vitamin C but also minerals such as potassium1. Their reddish-purple hue comes from their rich content of anthocyanin’s, which may come anti-inflammatory properties2. For maximum benefits, it’s best to consume cherries at peak ripeness, as the anthocyanin content increases naturally as the fruit ripens3

Not only are cherries low in calories, they also have a low glycemic load which means they are perfect treat for balancing blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight. Furthermore, both tart and sweet cherries are a source of our sleep hormone melatonin, and whilst still in its infancy, there is promising research linking cherry juice to better sleep4

Lastly sweet cherries are a good source of dietary potassium with approximately 260mg potassium per cup. Promoting diets high in potassium alongside a reduction in sodium could play a role with improving blood pressure control.

Enjoy a punnet as a treat or for dessert, add to your cooking or quench your thirst with a glass of refreshing cherry juice. 

Dark chocolate – why not enjoy daily? 

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t need anymore convincing to indulge in chocolate! Dark chocolate contains a high content of flavonols, which are the antioxidants thought to be responsible for chocolate’s health benefits. An interesting study which looked at 60 hypertensive subjects who consumed 25g dark chocolate for two months had significantly lower blood pressure in comparison to those who consumed white chocolate5. These positive effects have even also be supported by larger review studies8.

What’s more, there is some preliminary research to suggest that chocolate may even improve cognitive function7, whilst the mechanism is unclear it’s thought these effects are down to its ability to improve blood flow to the brain6.

Lastly, research has shown that dark chocolate could actually make us feel more calm and content9. Clearly it’s a no brainer to enjoy a square of two when cravings kick!

Get fermenting 

Summer time is about picnics and refreshing summer drinks. Why not include some fermented products within your diet, which are super tasty and rich in probiotics? Regular consumption of fermented foods may even support gut health. 

Kombucha is a fermented green tea with a fizzy tang and cider-like flavour. This can make a great replacement for your regular beer or cider. What’s more you could have a go at making other cooling fermented drinks and snacks such as coconut kefir or frozen yoghurt! Lastly fermented vegetables such kimchi or sauerkraut are a tasty and tangy addition to summer picnics and can be included in sandwiches and salads. 

 Enjoy a summer’s evening bicycle ride or leisurely walk

Staying active can do so much more than simply help to maintain our weight. Regular exercise can improve mood and decrease feelings of anxiety, stress and even depression10

What’s more, research has shown that going for a walk in nature, whether in a park or within the countryside, can improve mood more so than walking in an urban setting11.

 Fill your house with summer flowers

Stress and anxiety are common components of everyday life, and whilst there are many things we can do to manage mental health, treating ourselves to a bunch of fresh summer flowers may help to implement a little bit of calm into our lives. In fact, a 2008 study showed that hospital patients who had flowers in their room where actually more positive and less anxious about their post-operative recovery in comparison to the control group12.