A writer by profession and a long-time executive in public relations and communications, I’ve experienced the cumulative effects of stress on more than a few occasions.
While each person needs to find their own unique ways to combat stress, here are my 10-favorite summertime stress busters:
Bicycling on Mackinac Island
Although it was many years ago, the fond memory of bicycling on Mackinac Island (situated between mainland Michigan and the state’s upper peninsula in Lake Michigan) with my mother and my son and daughter still lowers my stress level. It was a wonderful bonding experience between three generations and great exercise.
Rent a bicycle when you’re on vacation or during a trip to an inland lake or recreational area and see how your worries seem to float away as you pedal along. This is an inexpensive and effective summertime stress-buster that anyone can do.
Going for a long drive
When I’ve had it up to here with deadlines, the pressure to finish a task, nonstop phone calls and nagging emails, not to mention all the things left to do around the house, I head for the open highway.
Since I live in California, however, that means timing my escape to avoid the gridlock on the freeways. Still, there’s nothing like cruising along the 101 freeway somewhere north to clear the cobwebs from my mind and melt any built-up stress.
Hiking a new trail
I’m fortunate to live just blocks from the Santa Monica Mountains preserve and numerous hiking trails. This sounds like a lot of work, but there are easy trails to climb as well as more strenuous ones.
An early morning hike, especially when I’m able to check out a new trail, is one of my quickest ways to dissolve stress. Family members are equally appreciative. And who doesn’t love to spend some quality time outdoors with those you love?
Taking a well-deserved vacation
Too many times we tell ourselves that we can’t afford to take a vacation or don’t have the luxury of taking that much time off work. I know. I’ve said so myself.
Yet, a vacation is not only deserved but necessary to recharge and revitalize, gain peace of mind and restore balance.
My memorable vacations include trips to Cancun, Kauai, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, as well great national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Arranging a long weekend getaway
Sometimes a weeklong vacation just isn’t practical. So, take a long weekend getaway. Head out to the beach or a cottage by the ocean. Explore nature in a national park. Visit a not-too-distant city to sample cuisine and nightlife or other attractions.
Romantic, sight-seeing, educational or pure leisure – whatever inspires you can be the ingredients for a getaway this weekend.
And the stress will just disappear.
Attending an outdoor concert
My daughter and son remember going with me to see Bob Seger, Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac concerts in Michigan. Just recalling those magical nights under the stars gives me a nostalgic rush. How perfect to wash away stressful thoughts?
No matter where you live, there’s probably a venue offering outdoor concerts and music festivals. Check out some of your favorite artists, search for some reasonably-priced tickets and take the family for an unforgettable outing.
Digging in the garden
Whether I’m yanking out weeds, cultivating an area to plant flowers, shrubs or helping to dig the right-size hole for a tree, I get undeniable enjoyment from digging in the garden. The fact that the result is something I’m proud of is a plus.
Don’t think you have a green thumb? I didn’t either, but years of practice and effort have paid off. Even if the plant eventually dies, I know I’ll get something to replace it that will prove equally lovely in my garden.
And there’s something about washing away the dirt from my gardening that’s very satisfying as well.
Reading a delightful book
I’ve always loved to read. Mysteries, true crime, thrillers, autobiographies, inspirational – you name it, I’m there. Nothing like whiling away an hour or so engrossed in a delightful book. If you get into the habit of reading something you like, you’ll find that the stress you had is gone, faded like a distant memory.
If you get into the habit of reading something you like, you’ll find that the stress you had is gone, faded like a distant memory.
Seeing an adventure movie
Movies are another favorite pastime. For dashing stress, a go-to favorite is an adventure movie. I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my body and while that seems counter-intuitive to eliminating stress, it works.
Realizing the outcome along with the protagonist (or hero) is doubly satisfying. It’s like I’m there. Not bad for a quick stress escape. Best of all, there are always plenty of adventure movies to choose from at the movie plex near you, or available to rent or download from your TV provider or Netflix.
Checking out an amusement park
Do you love roller coasters? I do. When I get the chance to go, I head straight for the biggest roller coaster in the park. If you’re going to go, go big or don’t go at all. That’s my motto.
Part of the reason I’m so drawn to this ride is that I remember riding a roller coaster with my dad just a week before he died. I was thirteen. He was my everything.
Other stress-busting amusement park attractions for me are the haunted house, bumper cars, and the Ferris wheel. And who doesn’t love the cotton candy, hot dog on a stick, outdoor cafes and other tempting gastronomic delights? You can work out later.
For now, indulge and have an enjoyable time.