Here I have a guest post for you from the lovely Nathalie who blogs over at Help I’m Getting Married. She shares with you her experiences of hobbies that can reduce stress.
April is Stress Awareness Month and an important time to stop, reflect on any pressures we face and consider ways to minimise these. Dealing with stress has become part of everyday life for many people with reports suggesting that four out of five adults feel stressed during a typical week and nearly one in ten feel stressed all of the time.
Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ magic solution, the good news is that there are many different activities and hobbies which can help us to switch off, reduce stress and calm anxiety. To follow on from Jen’s post on the benefits of cycling I wanted to share three other ideas which might help, inspired by my own interests and my hometown, Brighton.
For many, getting out into the outdoors is an excellent aid in helping to manage stress. In fact, studies have found that walking in less populated areas stimulates the endorphins in the brain to improve mood and reduce depression, as well as improving physical health of course.
I’m lucky enough to live right by the South Downs, the Seven Sisters national park and pretty undercliff beach walks so have lots of lovely scenery within a half hour drive. My all time favourite hikes are watching the sunset from the beach during an evening walk and Bluebell spotting in the Spring woodlands (even better if you spot any baby animals!). If you want to find some inspiration near to you, the National Trust website has lots of great ideas.
Hiking can be enjoyed by almost anyone, so long as you pick the right route for your fitness levels and wear the correct kit. No one wants to be thirsty a quarter of the way in to the walk, or in agony from foot blisters! Borrow or invest in some sturdy walking shoes, wear decent sweat wicking socks and don’t forget to pack a bottle of water and waterproof jacket.
Owning A Pet
There are also multiple studies suggesting that owning a pet is good for the mind. Being the proud owner of James, my furry feline, I cannot agree with this more. The research says that regularly interacting with an animal lowers blood pressure, prevents social isolation, decreases the build-up of harmful stress hormones and increases endorphins in as little as 5 minutes. This has got to be the speediest stress buster around!
Choosing to own a pet, be it dog, cat, rabbit, fish aquariam (etc.), is a serious commitment and has financial requirements, so is definitely not something to rush in to. Consider the times the animal will be left alone and whether you’ll need additional help to care of it, as well as what costs will be associated (from professional dog walks and obedience training, to vets bills, food, toys and medication) before committing. I would also always recommend rehoming from reputable organisations, if possible, such as the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust.
The sounds of the ocean have long been used as part of relaxation techniques, in fact many spas and health retreats use the sound of rippling of water for its soothing effect. Luckily for me, living by the sea means I can sit and listen to the waves often.
Taking this a step further, research also suggests that sailing could be excellent for mental health as studies found that the salty sea air contains more charged ions which help the body to absorb oxygen and aid it to produce more balanced levels of serotonin, which helps to combat depression.
Sailing may seem like a challenging activity to engage with as a beginner, but the benefits look sure to be addictive – in a good way! The Royal Yachting Association run a number of taster courses up and down the country, and can put you in touch with local clubs allowing you to get a feel for the different types of sailing. No specialist equipment is required but, as with hiking, an entry level waterproof jacket from a brand like Helly Hensen or Gill clothing is recommended as getting wet and chilly is never fun.
I hope I have inspired you to try something new this Stress Awareness Month – I’d love to hear of any other hobbies you find amazing for mental wellbeing and stress relief?
If you would like to read more from Nathalie do pop over to her blog and say hello and read her latest posts.