From Carilion Employee Assistance Program …
8 Spring Stress Relievers
Spring Brings Its Own Stress Relief Options
By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.
• 1. Spring Cleaning You may not think of it as a traditional ‘stress reliever,’ but spring cleaning can be a wonderful source of stress relief. The act of cleaning in itself can be a route to stress relief because of the exercise and other opportunities it provides. The end results of spring cleaning are even better: You’re left with a home that’s more of a haven from stress than a cause of it.
• 2. Gardening Going out there and digging in the garden brings some excellent opportunities for spring stress relief. Increased sunlight exposure can brighten your mood; beautifying your home can be soothing to you every time you come home; getting in touch with nature can help you feel more grounded. Whether you have a huge yard with dozens of plants, or a small patio and a container garden, gardening can be an excellent source of stress relief, beginning in the spring.
3. Walking Meeting a friend for some brisk walking, as with other forms of exercise, can be a great way to relieve stress year-round. However, spring is an especially good time for walking because of the more mild weather, the more beautiful surroundings, and the increasing hours of daylight. Walking through your neighborhood and noticing everyone’s yard in bloom, strolling in a park and enjoying the beautiful green grass, or hiking in the hills after work can all be stress-relief treats for spring.
• 4. Playing If you go to a neighborhood park during spring, you start to notice more children playing and enjoying spring’s not-too-cold, not-too-hot climate. It may bring back memories of your own childhood. Why not join in the fun? Spring is the perfect time to spend your weekends playing catch with the kids, having a picnic at the park, or getting outdoor games going with your friends — all activities that can bring stress relief and inner peace. If you haven’t played much lately, spring is the perfect season to start having fun again.
• 5. Healthy Eating With all the media attention given to healthy eating, you probably already know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and high in energy is better for you than one high in sugar and other less healthy ingredients. Did you know that a healthy diet can also help relieve stress? It’s true: Not only does a healthy diet reduce the stressful emotionally reactivity that can come from unstable blood sugar levels and excessive hunger, but it saves you a lot of stress and suffering in the long run if it enables you to avoid serious health problems. Spring offers more opportunities to visit farmer’s markets (and brings more offerings to your supermarket’s produce section), making it easier to add a healthy variety of delicious fruits and vegetables to your diet.
• 6. Visualizations As the warmer weather of spring brings new plant growth, more birds singing, and just more in general to look at outside, it’s easier to look outside and simply daydream. Before you scold yourself for ‘goofing off’ when you should be getting other things done, consider this as an effective stress-relief strategy — visualizations. Performed in a certain way, stress-relief visualizations have been effective in helping people perform better, relax quicker, and take a mini-vacation without leaving their desk.
• 7. Meditation While meditation is an extremely effective year-round stress relief strategy, spring offers some new stress-relief opportunities because it provides you with beautiful surroundings. If you’re working on focused meditation, just going outside provides many objects in which you could ‘lose yourself.’ A walk through the park can be an exercise in mindfulness. Sitting in a park and listening to the sounds of birds and children playing, smelling the flowers, and feeling the sunshine on your face can provide the perfect environment for zen. If you’ve never tried meditation for stress relief, spring is the perfect time to start.
• 8. Going On Vacation Many people travel during the summer months or the winter holidays, but spring is actually a great time for a vacation. The weather is wonderful in most places, the airports are less crowded, and it may be easier to take time off when everyone else in the office isn’t. If you can’t take a full vacation, spring is a wonderful time for a weekend trip, mini vacation, or one of those ‘don’t actually go anywhere’ vacations, which can be wonderfully relaxing in it’s own right — and less expensive.