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Highlights | Try a new activity this summer

  • Breaking out of old routines can be hard, however our bodies and brains benefit if we do.
  • New experiences can make our brains release dopamine, giving our bodies and brains a boost.
  • They can also help us experience new communities, making us feel more connected.

In our series, One Fun Thing, we’re collaborating with Anne Browning, PhD, associate dean for Well-Being at the UW School of Medicine, to bring you small, specific and low-effort ways to have more fun, plus a question to help you check in with yourself and others, and well-being resources.

What comes to mind when you think of summer? The sound of waves gently rolling onto Alki Beach? The smell of sunscreen and neighborhood barbecues? The taste of grilled corn and the feel of watermelon dripping down your chin?

While summer solstice was June 20, Seattle summers tend to be tardy. Once we escape June gloom and sink into July glow, it’s time to elevate one’s mood with summer activities.

One Fun Thing: Summer in Seattle

Seize those sunny days. Take advantage of the weather by picking one new activity or experience this summer. Maybe visit a sculpture park or a Japanese garden or check out a new hiking trail. Have you ever been to an outdoor movie? Joined a gardening club? Why not stroll a farmer’s market and try a new food? Or use this summer to lounge in the fresh air and read that classic you’ve never gotten to “Moby Dick” anyone?

Having new experiences can make your brain release dopamine, giving your brain and body a boost. New experiences also expose us to new connections and communities; that interconnectedness especially in a time of stress and screen time can help us lead healthier and longer lives.

“Breaking out of our routines can be difficult for humans since we are creatures of habit. I’m guilty of ordering the same things from a menu,” says Anne Browning, PhD, associate dean for Well-Being at the UW School of Medicine. “But experiencing the novelty of new things is a great way to break out of our default modes and potentially even experience awe.”

So jump on that ferry boat, feel the summer breeze in your face, volunteer to pick up trash at a local beach or try your hand at making peach sorbet. Quick, before the rain comes again.

If you need some inspiration, check out this list of activities, many of which are free:

Question of the Month

A way to check in with each other and ourselves. Use this question to connect with co-workers at your next meeting, to start a conversation around the dinner table or as a journal prompt.

Describe your favorite summer scene using at least three of the five senses (smell, sight, sound, touch, taste). Share with friends and see if they can guess what you’re describing.