- Mental Health
Stress Relief Ideas for Spring
Stress Reduction in Preparation for Summer
Finding ways to reduce your negative reactions to events and situations, things called stressors, is always a good idea, no matter the season. Spring, though, has something going for it that prompts motivation for change more than the first day of January can ever hope to have, namely the time of renewal, when a "young man's heart turns to love" and spring fever, where hope rises in the breasts of nearly every person.
Besides, summer is right around the corner from spring. Summer, the season of lazy days in the sun, picnics and beach outings, brings its own special stressors. The kids are out of school, family vacation is looming and maybe you'd like to lose a few pounds to fit into last summer's swimsuit. Now is the time to learn what you can do to change how you react to stressors. This way, you'll be better able to enjoy not just the warm seasons, but all the seasons to come.
Spring Offers Fresh Solutions for Stress Relief
You may not realize that you've been experiencing "cabin fever," that malady that makes some people want to jump out of their skin just to be able to get outdoors or at least away from the house that happens after so many winter months and winter conditions. You may experience seasonal affective disorder, SAD, related to the shorter periods of daylight and fewer sun-filled days. You may not recognize those feelings as a stress reaction because they built-up gradually, but they affect you emotionally, mentally and physically.
Your emotions and thoughts affect your physical self just as surely as a hammer hitting your toe would, but the effects are much more subtle and may go unnoticed. You may feel mildly depressed or tense, feel more anxious than usual -- all without knowing exactly why. These reactions to stressors can result in physical changes from difficulty sleeping, lethargy, increased susceptibility to infection, high blood pressure and more.
The arrival of spring brings with it the opportunity to shed winter coats and your "winter self."
Here are some tips to take advantage of this time of re-awakening and reduce your stress:
* Throw open the windows: Just as soon as the temperature becomes more moderate, open the windows in your home and allow the freshness of the spring air inside. Open curtains and blinds to allow the sunshine in. It will lift your spirits naturally.
* Take notice of the changes in nature: From the crocuses pushing through the last bit of winter snow to the swelling buds on the trees heralding the new green of spring, take time to notice the details. The colors of spring replace the whites and grays of winter, an uplifting change for your psyche if you'll only take notice.
* Get started on spring cleaning: Whether it's the garage, piles of leaves left over from autumn, or your home, there's something almost magical about spring cleaning. You are sending winter and its woes officially packing as you take charge once again of your surroundings. You are being active and vital through the process, a re-invigoration of spirit.
* Go outside: Walk nature trails, take a hike with the family, visit the beach and notice the changes that spring brings there. Trade your treadmill time for time walking outdoors. Sit on the porch or the balcony and allow the sun and fresh air to renew you. Get the bike out of storage and take it for a spin.
* Get your hands dirty: You can't get back to nature any closer than working in the soil. Clean out last year's flower beds. Turn over the soil to start a new flower bed or vegetable garden -- the size isn't as important. If you have no yard, purchase some containers and potting soil for an herb garden. Take your family to a local park and renew it by picking up litter. Volunteer for a community garden or as a guide for nature walks.
Best Book Available on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Guided Meditation
Positive Thinking and Positive Attitude Key to Reducing Stress in Your Life
There are many techniques that can help to prevent and/or alleviate negative reactions to stressors. For any of these techniques to be successful, you'll need a positive frame of mind and that may be the most difficult part of stress relief for you.
Goal-oriented, type A personalities and perfectionists are driven people by nature, a factor that lends itself to internally-caused stress reactions. Procrastinators often bring stress into their lives by just getting things done in the nick of time; some people thrive on last-minute pressure but it can take a toll on their physical well-being. Those people with poor self-image or low self-esteem have frequent doubts about their abilities to handle certain situations or relationships. Folks who routinely view their troubles as being someone else's fault or who shy away from taking responsibility for their own actions and reactions feel out of control over themselves and their futures.
Making changes to your basic personality and reactor type isn't easy or done quickly, but it can be accomplished through motivation and perseverance. To find optimal stress relief, and to avoid many stress reactions altogether, you have to learn the art of positive thinking, to face moments in life with a positive attitude. You must learn to take control of your actions and reactions. You can do it; you just have to want to try.
* Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction: This is a program that helps you learn how to make choices in your actions and reactions. You'll learn to see how your reactions have become habits and learn to change those into more positive, productive and stress-reducing reactions. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn first pioneered the program in 1979, working with people who were experiencing chronic pain that didn't respond to medications. He was successful with that group of people and the program has been ongoing, now in more than 250 hospitals throughout the United States and helping people conquer depression, anxiety, addictive behavior and more.