Summer is coming to a close and with it comes our brisk, and most likely rainy, fall season. Losing our long sunny days can sometimes be a bit daunting and with the start of school and busier schedules, stress can slowly creep up on you. Stress causes a chemical reaction in your body also known as the “fight or flight” response. This can increase your heart rate, breathing rhythm, muscle tension and blood pressure. Although a little bit of stress is okay, being in a state of high-stress for long periods of time can lead to many detrimental health effects such as insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, obesity and a weaken immune system. Luckily there are many proven ways to combat stress and stride into fall flawlessly. Follow these few tips to stay ahead of the game and beat the fall funk.
- Regular physical activity. As busy as you think you are, make some time for exercise! The great thing about fall is the cooler, brisk weather perfect for outside walks or runs. Physical activity increases the release of a “feel-good” chemical in your brain called Endorphins. It also gives you more energy to get through your day. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 mins/week of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or cycling as well as incorporating strength training exercises at least twice a week.
- Relaxation techniques. There are many different ways to blow off steam and relax whether it be doing a little yoga, meditation, deep breathing or even splurging for a massage. Explore apps on your phone to help guide you through meditation techniques or try 5-mins of simple, quiet deep breathing. One method you can try is called progressive muscle relaxation. This technique requires tensing each muscle group in your body starting from your toes for about 5 seconds then relaxing it for 30 seconds before moving up the body. Relaxation techniques can help lower your heart rate, blood pressure and reduce the activity of stress hormones. So whether it be during your lunch break, first thing in the morning or right before bed, take a few minutes to tune into your body and quiet your mind. It’s amazing what a couple of minutes slowing down can do!
- Set aside time for hobbies. If you are a student buried in book work or a busy parent juggling different schedules, make some time for fun. Find a couple quiet hours to read a book, listen to music or gather the family for some unplugged activities.
- Sleep. Give yourself ample time to recharge. The National Sleep Foundation recommends teenagers (14-17 yrs old) get 8-10 hrs of sleep, adults (18-64 yrs old) 7-9 hrs and older adults (65+) 7-8 hrs. If you have difficulty falling asleep due to stress, try a couple of easy techniques to quiet the mind enough to get some quality shut-eye. Write down any thoughts that may be swimming around your head about the days’ events or tomorrow’s to-do list to get it off your mind. Make your bed your sleeping zone only – avoid spending too much time on your phone, playing video games or distracting yourself from falling asleep. Also staying away from caffeine too late in the day can help you fall asleep when its time.