Summer is drawing to a close but it’s not over yet. Here are some tips to make the most of it, with 5 steps to a stress free summer!
1. Get active
We have all heard that exercise is good for your physical health. It’s benefits range from reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems to weight loss and muscle gain. But what can it do for your mental health? Just 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can help with relaxation (Jackson, 2013). There are numerous factors that contribute to this calming effect. Hormones released during physical activity, such as dopamine and serotonin, are thought to have a positive impact on your mood (Jackson, 2013). We also release endorphins and they provide uplifting, “euphoric” sensations. The feeling of “runners’ high” can also be attributed to this. Others view exercise as a “time-out” from the monotony of everyday activities, allowing you to take your mind off of routine stressors at work and at home (Jackson, 2013). Regardless, it’s evidence enough to get out there and work up a sweat. Take your bike out along the river path or go for a jog with friends. If you are looking for something extra adventurous, try a new activity like mountain biking or rock climbing! Engaging in any form of physical activity is a great first step for a stress free summer!
2. Soak up the sun
We all know that there are pros and cons to sun exposure. Too much can lead to burns and in extreme cases, skin cancer. Yet it provides healthy Vitamin D. And we can all agree that being outside in the warm sunshine just makes you feel good! While you do have to take care being in the sun, it has some benefits for us mentally, emotionally and physically. Enjoy the sun, just make sure you slap on the sunscreen and avoid being out when the sun is at its highest peaks or when the UV index exceeds 6-7.
3. Make those weekends count
Are you lacking the time or resources to take a nice, week long vacation? That’s ok, you have a 2 day mini-vacation every week to take advantage of. Evidently there will be some chores that you have to accomplish on Saturday and Sunday. But between mowing the lawn and picking weeds, schedule some down-time for rest and recuperation. Host a backyard barbeque with friends. Make it a potluck so there’s no pressure to stay in the kitchen all day and prep a plethora of food. Or if you are looking for something extra relaxing, book a day at the spa as part of your stress free summer activities. Many health insurance providers will cover a portion of massage costs (as long as they are done by a registered massage therapist). Now there’s really no excuse not to treat yourself!
4. Skip the city
Depending on where in the world you live, there are an abundance of natural playgrounds outside urban settings. Taking in the beautiful sceneries is a great way to relax and enjoy a stress free summer. In Calgary, the mountains are an hour away, tops. Arguably, the Rockies are one of the most beautiful sites in the world and they are right in our backyard. It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and kick back in a mountain paradise. Make it a daytrip and go for a hike in Kananaskis, Canmore or Banff. Trek to the top of Ha Ling Peak for a gorgeous view of the valley below. Have you ever been whitewater rafting? How about horseback riding? The possibilities for fun and adventure are endless.
5. Spend quality time with family
Studies dating as far back as 1988 have looked at the impact of social support on stress reduction and management (Pittman & Lloyd, 1988). It has been found time and time again that those with stronger, closer support networks are better able to cope with the stressors of everyday life. The results are not surprising though. It’s easier to relax when you have people to talk to and confide in. Don’t take your family for granted. Schedule some quality bonding time. This could be as simple as going out for a walk but feel free to get those creative juices flowing. Family scavenger hunt anyone?
Jackson, E. (2013). The Role of Exercise in Stress Management. American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal, 17(3), 14-19.
Pittman, J. & Lloyd, S. (1988). Quality of Family Life, Social Support and Stress. Journal of Marriage and Family, 50(1), 53-67.