Work, home, chores, family time, holiday-related plans and errands…so many things, so little time to relax and decompress! As our weeks ramp up and social calendars become more and more packed, it might feel like there’s simply no way to step out of your fishbowl of anxiety. However, even carving out the smallest amount of time for yourself to focus on stress-relieving activities can do you a world of good. Read on for ACSM-certified Wellness Coach, Sherri Lepley‘s ten stress-relieving activities you can do over the weekend.
1. Jam Out
Listen to music that you love, that makes you feel good, and reminds you of a joyous time in your life! This weekend activity is beyond accessible – you can do this anytime, anywhere! Cook your breakfast while grooving to your favorite playlist, listen to it in the car as you run errands, put your headphones in and simply relax outside, breathing in the fresh air. The effects of music go beyond the psychological – the act of enjoying a good tune, and what musical style, has an actual physical response in your body. While everyone has a different musical preferences, enjoying and being relaxed by music is universal.
2. Catch Some Z’s
Here’s a shocker: Sleep makes you feel better. Not only does lack of sleep affect your health in a wide variety of ways, it leaves you grumpy as heck. Make a special effort to get your full eight hours – whether by sleeping in an hour later or going to bed an hour earlier over the weekend. Sneak in a nap during your day. Enjoy the feeling of not wandering around all day longing for the moment you can get into bed – you’ll find your mood vastly improved! Your weekend is the perfect time to rest and recover – make good use of that time so you can dive into the start of your next week refreshed and rejuvenated.
3. Find Your Center
We digest information and news 24/7 and almost instantaneously with the help of our smart phones. Use your weekend time to completely unplug from it all via meditation! Even a few minutes of meditation will make an impact on your mental and emotional well being. According to this Harvard University study, consistent practice over the course of eight weeks even made measurable, structural changes in the brain.
There are many resources to help you with learning to meditate – get help with an app, teacher, or a class. Try to do it daily, no matter how much time you have. Maybe set up a Pinterest-worthy meditation nook to give you some extra encouragement!
4. Move Mindfully
While any form of physical activity will decrease stress, yoga and tai chi focus heavily on mindfulness to induce calm in your body. Yoga in general increases overall relaxation, but there are certain styles that specifically use passive movement and a host of props to bring ease and comfort. Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga are two examples of restful yoga styles, or try Slow Flow Yoga for an active but prop-supported practice.
The ancient Chinese Martial Art of Tai Chi Chuan balances the “great polarity” otherwise known as yin & yang. These opposing forces are in constant flux in nature as well as our bodies, and Tai Chi Chuan teaches us how to live in harmony with these forces. The benefits of consistent practice are vast: improved balance, increased flexibility, muscle tone, and boosted immunity. Tai Chi is also referred to as “moving meditation”, and the slow, graceful movements and controlled breathing result in deep relaxation.
5. Enjoy Some Fresh Air
Enjoy a long walk, hike, or bike ride. As Austinites, we are surrounded by plenty of outside splendor! Sure, maybe in the winter time, the idea of a dip in Barton Springs sounds, well, awful…but we are lucky enough to have plenty of trails to explore, such as the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail. Bundle up and enjoy the feel of the brisk air and gain the emotional and mental health benefits that come from spending time outside.
6. Pay It Forward
Shift your focus to taking care of someone else, and you’ll find that the act of doing something nice for someone will also make YOU feel better. It’s hard not to feel warm and fuzzy inside when you’re able to bring a smile to someone’s face through a simple act of kindness. Altruistic acts result in tangible effects on our well being, as discussed in this article from VeryWellMind.
So do something nice for someone else, be it a family member, friend, neighbor, colleague, or stranger.
7. Treat Yo’ Self
Sit back, relax, and let yourself be pampered. Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, or both, and feel immediately unstoppable and glamorous afterwards. Who can be stressed when you’ve got nails like THESE?
Get a massage – it’s the ultimate form of relaxation.
8. Self-Help Books
Pick up a book or listen to a podcast that will help enrich your life. Look for subjects that will advise you on stress-management techniques, like this list of 5 self-care audiobooks.
9. Tea time
Drink a soothing, relaxing tea, such as chamomile or lemon balm. Traditional Medicinals ‘Cups of Calm’ is a particularly nice blend, with chamomile, passionflower, and lavender – all ingredients that aid in calming the nervous system.
10. Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
Make time for family, friends, and fun!
Humans are inherently social. While time alone to focus on yourself and being introspective is important, ultimately, we thrive when we are surrounded by those we love. Have dinner with your family, get your sweat on with your workout buddy, get some play time in with your kids or pets and laugh with childlike abandon. Find reasons and ways to celebrate life during this time.
Lazy summer days will come again, but in the meantime, find peace and stillness when you do any of the above activities, or, if you haven’t the time for that, perform some simple stress-relieving tricks that only need 60 seconds of your time.
Sherri Lepley is an Elite Personal Trainer and ACSM certified Wellness Coach. After a career in the medical community, she pursued her passion for fitness and preventative care. She offers nutritional counseling and fitness testing to help you reach your goals. Sherri’s approach is holistic and tailored to the individual’s needs – whether they are interested in nutrition or wellness coaching, weight loss, strength training, or support through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Click here to see how Sherri can help you take charge of your nutrition and wellness.