Learning how to reduce stress is a key component to improving your overall health and wellness. Fitness may play a role in stress reduction, but there are a multitude of options for any activity level.
Just being outside can do wonders for your mental health. In fact, researchers from Stanford University found that spending time outside can calm anxiety, reduce stress, and lower the risk of depression. One study found that just 90 minutes of walking in nature, as opposed to in urban areas, showed decreased brain activity in regions associated with depression.
Aerobic exercise, such as kayaking, reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, according to Harvard Health Publications. In addition to lowering stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, aerobic exercise also boosts chemicals in the brain that elevate mood, like endorphins. Kayaking also gives you the added benefits received from being outdoors. When trying kayaking for relaxation, be sure to use these kayaking safety tips.
Swimming gives you all the stress-relieving benefits of aerobic exercise. Because you’re in water, swimming is also an excellent low-impact form of exercise, which is ideal for those with pain in the low back, hips, or knees. Additionally, swimming strokes require rhythmic breathing, which can trigger a response in the nervous system responsible for relaxation.
Meditation is a form of relaxation that has been used for thousands of years. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of meditation include:
- Decreasing negative emotions
- Focus on the present
- Introducing a new perspective on stressful situations
- Growing skills to manage stress
- Increasing self-awareness, creativity, and patience
A growing number of studies suggest walking is one of the best methods for reducing stress. Research suggests walking helps release endorphins, which improve mood and stimulate relaxation. One of the greatest benefits of walking is that it can be done at a comfortable pace and still promote relaxation. Furthermore, walking while meditating may have even greater benefits. According to one study, meditating while walking had the greatest impact on mood enhancement.
“Getting moderate exercise such as walking can enhance our mood while it strengthens our hearts and reduces our risk for diabetes, cancer, and numerous other health issues,” says Julie Garden-Robinson, food, and nutrition specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service.
Multiple studies show evidence of the benefits of biking for stress relief. Biking outdoors combines the benefits of low-impact aerobic exercise and exposure to nature, but stationary biking indoors still offers many benefits. According to one study on people with depression who were treated with antidepressants, pedaling a stationary bike for just 15 minutes decreased their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Baths aren’t just for kids! Taking a bath is an excellent way to reduce stress. In fact, one study showed a 30-minute bath at 104 Fahrenheit improved depression symptoms. Warm baths are also linked to decreases in stress hormones and more balanced serotonin levels, which help regulate mood.
Taking some quiet time for yourself to read a book can greatly decrease stress and increase relaxation. Don’t feel pressured to finish a whole book in one sitting, even a few minutes of quiet reading time can help reduce stress. According to one study, researchers found reading for as few as six minutes reduced stress by as much as 68 percent.
Big or small acts of self-care can have a great impact on reducing stress. Acts of self-care can include something small, like taking time to make a cup of tea, or something more involved like booking yourself a service. Relaxing services can include massage or even a manicure. If you are looking for a holistic service involving chiropractic, bodywork, and energy work, then Network Spinal could be an excellent option.
Calling a friend
Perhaps one of the simplest ways to reduce stress is calling a friend. Just expressing your feelings, and being heard, can greatly relieve feelings of pressure and anxiety.
You have many options and tools to reduce stress in your life. If you enjoy fitness, try going kayaking, hiking, or bike riding. Reading a book, taking a bath, or going on a walk also have great benefits. Choose whichever activity seems right for you to reduce your stress and increase relaxation.