With the Summer Solstice on its way, the season is already in full swing here in Cleveland. The warm temperatures and the sun shining make it very difficult to sit at a desk from 9AM to 5PM Monday through Friday! Even the weekends fill up with things to do: festivals, weddings, graduation parties, BBQs… what is a girl to do?!
Before launching into a full panic attack on how I was going to manage such a crowded social calendar, I stumbled upon this great list of tips from POM Wonderful – the recent sponsor of my Memorial Day sangria fun – on how to Lighten Up Your Life … 10 Simple Ways to De-Stress This Summer. After reading them, I was inspired with so many ideas, I already calmed down!
Here are POM Wonderful’s tips to help you keep the stress at a minimum and my ways on how I plan to embrace them this summer.
1. Writing: Not only does the act of writing help put stress sources in perspective, but also it can also be a valuable tool in tracking the sources of stress down so that you can avoid them in the future.
When you spend the day in Microsoft Word, taking up more writing as a hobby may seem like an overkill. For me, blogging and journaling are two ways to allow my creative juices to flow, which usually doesn’t happen during the day. However, when I’m not feeling it, I don’t force it. I would hate to bore my blog readers with any MORE ridiculous ramblings than I already do!
2. Laughter: Humor, no matter what the source, can be a great way to relieve stress and keep you in good shape.
Our new humor indulgence: The Office. Yes, I know what you are thinking: “2005 called: they have a new sitcom they want you to watch.” For whatever reason, it’s our new after dinner syndicated TV drug of choice. It’s a nice way to get the giggles in to help us wind down after a long day.
Side note: for a fun, hilarious blog read, check out Cheap Healthy Good’s 11 Things Dwight K. Schrute Taught Me About Food and Frugality. My favorite Dwight-ism: “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, ‘Would an idiot do that?’ And if they would, I do not do that thing.”
3. Avoid Stress Inducing Behaviors: Be aware of certain negative behavior patterns and try to identify when you’re falling into those patterns.
Do you have too many summer time errands to run? Signed up for too many 5K? Have too many graduation parties to attend? Organize the important tasks and items in your life and make those the priority. Let go of the ones that don’t matter as much and enjoy the ones that do.
4. Go Outside: Spending time in nature, or even just outdoors, is a good way to relieve stress because it combines being physically active with being in an environment that tends to relax both the body and mind.
One of the great things about our house is our deck. I love grilling out then enjoying the meal at our patio set. A change of scenery – even if it’s only 10 feet away from our kitchen table – makes the difference. And you all know about my love for the Cleveland Metroparks – get out there and get moving!
5. Meditation: By slowing down your metabolism through biofeedback, meditation can reduce the impact of stress toxins on the body and generally improve one’s mental outlook, which can also reduce stress levels on an individual.
I want to love meditation. I really do. But I have such trouble shutting off the internal chit-chat that goes on in my brain. One of these Saturdays, I am planning a good research visit to the local library to rock their “self-help” section – perhaps on one when the temperatures are scorching and the A/C would be a lovely escape! Any recommendations are always appreciated!
6. Go Off Grid: Take a day and unplug yourself from the greater world.
I made the cell phone plunge and recently upgraded to a Motorola Devour with MOTOBLUR. Now, I’m even MORE connected than ever. I’m interested to see if my constant mobile connection will decrease the time I spend on my computer overall.
7. Give Yourself A Present: Make sure to plan ahead and make it a reward for yourself; that will help you treat it like a stress relieving ritual.
My birthday is right around the corner. Due to its awesome placement near the Fourth of July, I tend to celebrate my birthday for a longer bit of time than the average individual. But doesn’t that just mean more presents and birthday cake & ice cream for me?! In fact, I’ve already started: I have purchased not one, but two “birthday dresses” in the past few weeks! Gotta look good for the big 2-7!
8. Yoga: Even a modest regular practice can really help you improve your outlook and breathing exercises and body postures can be even more beneficial for your stress levels.
Dear Self: Remember how happy you were in the beginning of 2010 when you were going to yoga every Saturday morning? You should start doing that again. Maybe on Sundays. You have a new Lululemon yoga mat for goodness sake – USE IT! Ask family members for money for a class pass for said-birthday you just previously mentioned. Love Always, Alicia. p.s. it’s even better outside!
9. Exercise: Exercise is a solid way of burning off anxious energy that can also create increased stress levels and adversely affect your health.
This may be TMI, but I love a good sweaty workout. The kickboxing class I attend on Saturday mornings is only that much better during the summer because we are all one hot mess by the end of the hour!
10. Eat Healthy: Eating natural, whole foods in small portions regularly, is a great way to control your stress levels and prevent runaway cycles of stress from forming.
With all the great farmers markets popping up, would won’t want to take advantage of all the delicious, fresh local produce that is in abundance? In Cleveland, North Union Farmers Market operates farmers markets throughout the area. Last summer, there was even one in Parma! Check out their schedule on their website for more info on when and where to hit them up!
How do you plan to eliminate stress in your life this summer?