Taking time to unwind isn’t just a luxury, it is a necessity for your health and wellbeing. Longterm stress can have serious effects on your physical and mental health. Therefore it is so important to have a list of healthy stress management activities and an action plan for how you can fit these activities into your life.
Why you need to make time for stress management activities
Our bodies were designed by God to deal with stress for short periods in order to survive. However, longterm stress overworks our adrenals and increases our adrenaline and cortisol levels. Chronic stress can lead to some pretty serious health consequences and exacerbate any pre-existing health conditions. Did you know that a majority of doctors visits are due to stress-related ailments? And almost half of us suffer health effects from stress?
Some of the health consequences of chronic stress Include:
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar levels
- heart problems
- muscle tension
- skin conditions
- increased risk of stroke
- gastrointestinal problems
- increase risk for Alzheimer’s
- increase risk of obesity
- premature aging
- hair loss
- sleep problems
- weakened immune system
Some of the mental health consequences of chronic stress include:
- general unhappiness
- inability to focus
- memory problems
- increased suicide risk
Unhealthy ways to deal with stress that lead to further health consequences
- overeating or undereating
- illegal drug use
- prescription drug use (although these may be needed at times, they can still lead to health consequences with long-term use)
- tobacco use
- alcohol use
- social withdrawal
Are all of these examples good enough motivation for you to make your health a priority and choose some healthy stress management activities to work into your daily life? If so “Give your stress wings and let it fly away” and try some of the following “healthy” stress management activities.
15 Healthy Stress Management Activities to Help you Unwind
1. Take a bath:
Make it a whole experience with healthy candles, soft lighting, and soft instrumental music. Add Epson salts and your favorite essential oils into the tub. Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Lemon, Clary Sage, Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Pine, Roman Chamomile, Rosemary, Sandalwood, and Cedarwood are all good for stress. You could also use any of these in a diffuser at the same time.
2. Do breathing exercises:
Did you know that when we are stressed we restrict our breathing unconsciously? That is why we need to consciously take long deep breaths to get the extra oxygen we need. It is amazing how quickly you calm down by just doing this. Breathing exercises can help. There is a free App available on iOS or Android called Breathe2Relax. You can read about this and other top apps for breathing exercises here. Top 5 Breathing Apps for 2018
For more information and practical tips to help you, read my post: Deep Breathing Exercises to Help You Feel Better Quickly
3. Do meditation:
Even just a few minutes of meditation can do wonders for lowering your stress levels. This article from Huffington post shares the amazing results the singer-songwriter, Jewel had using meditation to control chronic anxiety and debilitating panic attacks along with information on the best meditation apps available right now.
4. Do yoga:
Yoga has been proven to have so many health benefits, including relieving stress. You can find yoga classes in your hometown or do it in the comfort of your own home with some great Youtube channels that offer yoga at all different levels. Here is a list of the 10 Great Yoga Youtube Channels for Beginners. And here are 13 Easy Yoga Poses for Stress Relief you can do right now.
5. Get a massage:
Studies have shown that just one session of massage therapy can help lower your heart rate, cortisol and insulin levels as well as help release dopamine, the feel-good hormone. You can usually find good introductory deals at membership spas like Massage Envy or you can search for a Groupon in your area to find a good place to try as well as save you money.
6. Try a full spectrum infrared sauna:
Out of everything I have ever tried for relaxation, the full spectrum infrared sauna has left me feeling the best. The health benefits are amazing. Infrared saunas are all the rage now so you should be able to find one near you in a local health spa. If you can find one with a Sunlighten Sauna I can attest to how amazing they are. They are medical grade and they have an exclusive manufacturing process that cancels out EMF(electric and magnetic fields) to levels that are virtually undetectable.
7. Go swimming:
Swimming is not only a wonderful way to exercise your entire body, it is a great way to relax and unwind. The weightlessness of your body moving through the water is so good for relaxing all your muscles and joints. After I swim, I love to just float on my back and let all my cares float away. If you don’t have a pool, look for community pools or recreation centers where you can just pay for one-time entry.
8. Try a float tank:
This is another trendy health and wellness therapy available now. Floatation therapy is also known as Sensory Deprivation because it is done in a pod filled with water and tons of Epson salts which blocks out light and sound while you float weightlessly for an hour. You not only get all the health benefits from soaking in Epson salts but you get the ultimate deep relaxation experience with restorative effects equivalent to 4 hours of deep sleep. You should be able to find one near you. Check out Groupon as well. The one near me also offers Halotherapy Sessions which are relaxation sessions in a room filled with Himalayan Pink Salt.
9. Listen to soothing music:
I love Spotify! Especially because you can browse for your favorite music according to your mood or even create your own different playlists. There is a popular playlist called Relax and Rewind that I like or there are plenty of others to appeal to all tastes. I like the station called Spa on Pandora as well for that spa-like feel. My all-time favorite relaxing music to listen to is George Winston, piano music.
10. Write in journal:
Writing can be very therapeutic and helpful in relieving stress and anxiety. If you don’t normally do this, it can be intimidating to look at a blank page and figure out what to write. Journaling prompts can help you get ideas flowing. This mindfulness journal on Amazon can be very helpful. Writing out and exploring all the reasons why you are feeling so stressed out can relieve some pressure and help you see things from a different perspective. You can also identify your stress triggers and plan in advance how to manage them. Grab my free printable “Relieving Stress” Journal Prompts to help with this. Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how.
11. Take a walk outside:
There is nothing like a walk in nature for relaxation and unwinding. Research studies show that walking in nature is associated with significantly less depression and reduction in the negative effects of stress while improving mental well-being. We have beautiful tree covered trails in our area that we love to walk on. Check out your area for walking trails and greenways you can explore.
12. Try kayaking:
I had to include this because it is my newest and most favorite way to get out and enjoy nature and de-stress. We were going to join a recreation area that offers kayaking but we found some kayaks on Craigs List instead. Now we can just throw them in the back of our van and go to our local lake and enjoy all the changing seasons while we kayak all our cares away. It is so peaceful just gliding through the water with no sounds of a motor, just the sounds of nature all around you.
13. Listen to or watch things that make you laugh:
Everyone has a different sense of humor so you have to know what makes you laugh. For me, the things that make me laugh the most are making JibJab videos with the faces of my family members in them, watching The Middle on Amazon Prime, watching America’s Funniest Home Videos, and watching Youtube videos of babies laughing.
Get additional tips for adding more laughter to your life from my post: Laughter is Good Medicine: So How Can We Get More of It?
14. Take one night away:
With busy schedules and tight budgets, it is often too hard to get away. However, we have found doing what we call “one-night-aways” is magical. Depending on when you leave, you feel like you have two whole days away with only the expense and ease of packing for just one night. One night away with a room on the beach can do wonders. All the stress just melts away with the sound of the waves calming your inner tempo. Another favorite “one-night-away” for us was an Airbnb experience where we went “Glamping” by a river in the local mountains.
15. Do a spa day:
This is another way to get away when you don’t have the time to get out of town. We found out that local hotels that have spas for their guests will allow you to enjoy their spa for the whole day if you book a treatment with them.
Well, we would never spend the money it would cost to stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in uptown Charlotte but occasionally we buy Spa Finder gift cards from Costco for $80 and they are worth $100. Then we book a treatment at the Ritz on a day we can get away for the whole day.
We show up when they open and stay until they close to enjoy the whole day. It is like staying at a resort. They have a beautiful pool and jacuzzi with comfy lounging couches facing out the windows from the high rise building where you can see all over the city. They also have a well-equipped gym, an amazing quiet room plus steam rooms, salt rooms and saunas. They also have hot teas, cucumber water, nuts and chocolates available for refreshment. You can order food and drinks to enjoy poolside or sometimes we bring our Pick Two from Panera that we grab on the way to save money. They even give you free valet parking when you have a treatment.
On special occasions, they bring you complimentary champagne for your anniversary or heavenly cupcakes on your birthday. Can you guess where we go for most of our special occasions? I always feel like a new woman after a day at the Ritz.
So what do you think? Do any of these stress management activities sound appealing to you?
Now all you need to do is pick one and plan to make it happen? Some of them you can do right now?
Don’t put it off. You are worth it and your health and well-being depend on it.
If you can’t fathom the thought of pampering yourself, then think of it this way… taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give your family. When you are at your best both physically and mentally, you can give them your best. They will thank you.
So what is it going to be for you? I’d love to hear what stress management activities you use to unwind or which one from my list do you plan to do?
Wishing you Joy in your journey!
P.S.-Don’t forget to grab a copy of my “Relieving Stress” Journaling Prompts to help you relieve your stress and identify ways to manage it better. Scroll to the bottom of the post to find out how.
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