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The summer heat is finally upon us. School are closed and there has been a mass exodus of people leaving the Gulf for their annual vacations. If you have been left behind, then enjoy the quiet town for your very own stay-vacation.

Staying at home you may feel that you are missing out but remember, spending time on the move on and off planes and visiting family can be nice but exhausting.

A stay-vacation in the Gulf can be a really positive time. Less traffic; no school runs; gorgeous parks and beaches, almost deserted, for you to enjoy in the early morning and evenings.

You can't rush around in the heat, so slow down and chill – it may just be a good time for you: just what you need to recharge your batteries. With friends away on vacation, the social pressures ease and you can get down to being really self-indulgent, taking care of yourself and the family, which they will remember.

There is always something new to see in the Gulf so do the tourist bit in your own city. Take the family on day trips to local tourist sites, swimming venues, or engage in fun activities such as summer camps and clubs, boating, fishing, shopping or visiting museums.

Stay-vacations achieved popularity in the US and Europe during the financial down turn. Many families will decide to spend the summer in the Gulf due to work commitments and the financial pressure. It can seem like a long summer to children as many of their friends disappear and there is great temptation to let them sit in front of videos and computers; so it is important to add some exercise and structure to their day. Otherwise they will be computer zombies by the end of the summer.

Make a plan 
It is important to make sure your children get out each day for a morning swim or evening stroll along the beach. It is also a good time for quality family time. Plan board game tournaments, and family outings to the cinema; or a delightful cool evening at the ice rink. Small children should be supplied with lots of craft making equipment so they can use their imaginations to create all kinds of crafts. My mother visited us one hot summer and really enjoyed teaching my boys to knit and play bridge. It is also a good time to teach the children to cook: a skill that both boys and girls will need when they go away to university.

Decide to learn some new cooking skills
This is a good time to buy some new cooking gadgets to fascinate the family. Children will happily join in with this. I recently bought a smoothie maker and my youngest son soon became king of smoothies. This quickly ensured we all had loads of fruit. Other great gadgets include:

- Yoghurt maker
- Ice cream maker 
- Bread maker

All the wonderful things you thought would be nice to do but you never had time for.

Or just a new cookery book to create new dishes and get the family to take turns with the cooking.

Family Book Club
Establish a family book club and have a daily reading time recommending favourite books to each other or just taking time to read some of the classics and talk about them to each other. "You're never alone when you're reading a book."

Sunshine
Make the effort to spend some time outside in the cooler hours of morning or evening. Sunshine instantly lifts your mood and the reason for this is that sunlight is an antidepressant. Research has shown that the sunnier the place you live, the happier you feel. Make a point of enjoying nature and gather family to watch the sun go down.

If you aren't a member of a gym, now is the time to sign up for the summer. Gyms and pools can be quiet during the summer months. Remember, exercise will not only tone your body, but it is also good for your heart and is a great stress buster. For more tips on healthy living sign up to my monthly newsletter by sending an e-mail to newsot@ardenhealth.com

Alva Carptener/Nutritionist and fitness expert based in the Gulf. Readers can send questions to alvathursday@ardenhealth.com

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