Whether this weekend is filled with activity or shaping up to be a restful and restorative break from a busy week, it’s important to protect your health and well-being by finding ways to relieve stress and practice some self-care. Now more than ever we need to manage worry, fear, and anxiety to face an uncertain future with calm determination.
Although many people may turn to prescription medication, alcohol, food, or cannabis to help manage stress, there are several other simple strategies to cope with overwhelming emotions. Listening to music that calms and uplifts can have a powerful effect on how we feel. Instead of reaching for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, why not dance or sing out some of your feelings?
Feeling completely stressed out and can’t break the cycle? A cold dunk in ice water activates the body’s dive response, quickly alleviating intense emotions and slowing the heart rate. Plunging your face in an ice-cold bath might not sound relaxing, but it has been shown in studies to help people calm their minds. A 30-second cold shower, cold water swim, or soaking feet in icy water can also be beneficial.
Anyone who has practiced yoga or meditation knows the vital role breathing plays in calming the body and mind. Slowing down your breath, taking long, full inhales and exhales not only can focus the mind, but studies have shown that paced breathing can also lower blood pressure. By turning your brain’s attention to the breath, it’s easier to quiet the noise and distracting thoughts that can cause anxiety.
While we enjoy the second half of summer, spending time outdoors in nature can also help people manage stress and sleep better. Natural sunlight can help maintain a proper circadian rhythm and a daily dose of Vitamin D will promote a healthy immune system. Try walking barefoot in the grass, reading or working outdoors, or taking an afternoon siesta in a hammock under the shade of a tree. Reconnecting with the natural environment has been associated with a wide range of health benefits including a reduced risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
How are you shaking off stress this weekend?