Headaches. Muscle aches. Leftovers-for-lunch aches. There's a long menu of wellness issues linked to excessive stress. Thankfully, if you’re looking to learn how to relieve stress and anxiety, gently landing yourself in a more tranquil, relaxed state, then we have a few ideas for you. Check out these 10 fun, social stress relief activities.
Yoga's focus on breathing helps practitioners become aware of the present moment, which can ease anxiety, instill a sense of calm, and even ward off panic attacks. The breathing can also have a soothing effect on the nervous system, promoting a peaceful state of relaxation. Additionally, your yoga teacher may have a series of poses designed to relieve stress and stretch out any tense muscles.
You probably didn't think one of our stress relief tips would be "insert thin needles into your body." But the ancient Chinese believed in acupuncture's benefits, and modern-day studies are starting to confirm it. While acupuncture works by stimulating nerves and releasing natural pain killers, recent research suggests it might also regulate stress-causing hormones.
Any aerobic exercise should be a stress relief activity, since it'll promote feelings of well-being and encourage a good night of sleep—essential for reducing stress. But we recommend zumba in particular, because if you're going to exercise, why not have a little fun while you're doing it?
Infrared saunas use infrared light to heat your body, inducing a warm, relaxing feeling while purportedly reducing blood pressure. If arthritis causes you unwanted stress, there's some evidence that these saunas help relieve joint pain, among other benefits. For an especially stress-relieving experience, we recommend meditating while in the sauna.
Kickboxing isn't just about channelling stress into a furious combination of uppercuts, jabs, and kicks. A fundamental kickboxing lesson is learning proper breathing techniques, and deep breathing has been linked to increased relaxation and regulated blood pressure. It's also been shown to elevate moods and lower anxiety.
Studies have found that those who practiced mindfulness meditation had lower levels of cortisol. Why is that important? Because scientists consider cortisol "the stress hormone," and too much of it can cause anxiety, memory issues, and even heart disease. By lowering your body's stress hormone, meditation can lower your risk of these health issues. It might be the one of the best activities to for long-term peace of mind.
You might think, "Of course a massage is relaxing, but after the massage is overwith, won't I go back to being stressed?" Not necessarily! A recent study found that the relaxing effects of a massage can last as long as 16 to 18 hours. That's a lot of bang for your buck, and a pretty good investment for a one-hour activity. It can also help brighten your mood and reduce any muscle pain.
It seems strange...floating in salt-rich water, inside a tube that keeps everything pitch dark. But some people swear that these floatation tanks are the ultimate stress relief technique, and the science is starting to back it. An Australian study showed that spending 45 minutes in a float tank could reduce stress and anxiety, and it might even improve your sleep quality.
This one is a little tricky. Since it's a gentle cardiovascular workout, improves your flexibiliy, and often surrounds you with nature, golf can be a friendly competition that's both fun and stress reducing. Just make sure it doesn't get too competitive, and have a sense of humor if your tee shot veers off into the pond.
Several of the activities to relieve stress are essentially exercise, which can help brighten your mood and help you feel healthier long-term. Kayaking is no different (it's an especially effective core and upper-body workout), but it adds another element: being on the water. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of the water, and enjoy a peaceful, meditative element in addition to a great exercise session.