Summer is the most eagerly anticipated season of the year – who doesn’t look forward to firing up the Barbie, kicking back and enjoying the sun? (fingers crossed!). Summertime is holiday time for many of us too, with the opportunity to take a well-earned break, escape life’s everyday stresses and strains and recharge the batteries.
But the flip-side is that summer can bring with it a host of stress factors related to both home and work. June is examination time for students, the long school holidays mean parents struggle to cope with childcare commitments – and with wedding season in full swing – stress can take its toll on the planners. You may find yourself having to cover for colleagues at work too, and any one or a combination of these could be tipping the balance from coping with stress to feeling overwhelmed.
Chronic stress wears you down, leading to a decreased zest for life and even the possibility of burnout. Stress may start in the mind but it manifests itself in the body – and an unhealthy body can lead to even more stress. Irritability, headaches, insomnia and chest pains are some of the symptoms experienced by sufferers. High blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and depression are some of the more unpleasant conditions those with untreated stress can look forward to. It’s a big problem in the UK, with stress behind an estimated one in five visits to a GP.
Summer Opportunities to De-stress
Taking more exercise is sure fire winner when it comes to combating the effects of stress. It not only gets you fitter, making you more capable of dealing with stressful situations, but releases endorphins too – or ‘feel good’ chemicals – into your bloodstream, giving you a natural high.
Take advantage of summer’s extra hours of daylight by setting aside some time for a morning or evening workout. Summer’s also the perfect time to rediscover a sport such as badminton or tennis and swimming is an excellent way to get back into exercising – since the water prevents damage to joints which haven’t seen too much action in a while. If you are still inspired by the Olympics or plan to get onto a tennis court before Wimbledon fever packs them out – make a move now.
Joining an exercise class is a fun and sociable way to get fit, with yoga a great option to consider. This mind-body practice combines stretching exercises with controlled breathing – actions which will gain you a more peaceful mind, and reduce stress and anxiety. You could also take up boxing or step – there’s a wealth of classes on offer – and your local LA Fitness can act as a great source of inspiration. Check out the range of pampering treatments available, too – an indulgent massage is another highly effective way of relieving stress.
Give yourself a Break
If you don’t have the money for a vacation then plan a ‘staycation’ or a ‘mini-vacation’. The point isn’t so much changing location but escaping the mundane pressures of daily life. In fact, even setting aside a few hours each day when you switch off the phone and ignore the computer will help – no matter what the time of year. Simply being able to distance yourself from everyday niggles is an important step on your way to stress management.
Whatever is triggering your stress, by making some simple lifestyle changes you can chill out and enjoy summer to the max. No matter what your level of fitness or personality, you can find stress relieving activities which are a perfect fit for you.