In the rush and whirl of daily life, stress is a nearly constant factor. Most people never stop to think how much stress they put themselves through on a regular basis or about the effects that could be having on their mental health. Tension, anxiety and stress can, over time, have very negative impacts on overall mental health. If you want to keep yourself, your mind and your body in the best possible shape, it's important to take some time to relax when you can. Here are four of the most relaxing activities you can indulge in to unwind and release some of the stress of daily living.
Take a Nature Walk
Few things are as relaxing as getting away from work, social obligations and general day-to-day stressors by going for a long nature walk or hike. Aside from reducing common stress, researchers at Stanford University have found that nature walks could reduce the risk of depression or excessive and repeated focus on negative thoughts. Aside from the benefits of a natural setting, nature walks also offer the benefit of exercise, which has long been known to play a role in maintaining good mental health. If you want to get the best results from walking in nature, try leaving your cell phone behind or turning it off during your walk, as this will help you to fully disconnect and immerse yourself in the natural beauty around you.
Read a Book
It may come as no surprise that reading is one of the best things you can do to encourage good mental health. Reading has been shown to be effective in helping sufferers of depression and anxiety to cope with their mental illnesses, as well as in preventing these kinds of conditions from arising in other individuals. It is thought that this is because reading causes the mind to focus in on one thing only for an extended period of time, thus causing it to release negative thoughts and emotions. Curl up with a good book at night, and you'll be doing your mind and yourself a favor.
Indulge in a Spa Day
Few things are as effective at relieving stress as going to the spa for a day. Hot baths, massages and other spa treatments are all excellent ways to relax, and the personal attention that one is given at a spa can also help to combat depressive disorders. As effective as these treatments are, they can have the drawback of not being convenient to access on a routine basis. If you want to enjoy many of the benefits of a spa day without having to make appointments and take time out of your schedule, you can get a home spa that will allow you to indulge in relaxing comfort as often as you like.
As esoteric as it may sound to some people, meditation has been scientifically proven to have wide-ranging mental health benefits. By relaxing the mind, meditation can clear negative thoughts and feelings. Meditation also relaxes the body, which further reduces both physical and mental stress. A regular practice of meditation has also been found to help improve memory.
If you want to protect and support your mental health, finding time to relax is critical. By allowing your mind to relax and unwind, you give it the chance to escape from the pressures you place on it throughout your day. Ideally, you should find some way to relax your body and mind every day, as this will give you the most benefit. If nothing else, however, try to fit in two periods of time each week dedicated to relaxing for the sake of your mental health.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. For your spa needs, Hannah recommends Robert Allen Pools and Spas