The hike. Still one of the easiest ways to escape and relax. Photo: Jake Ingle


The Inertia

In the first installment of this series, we explored how you can bust stress by saying, “no” more and getting better at reinforcing boundaries. Then in part two, we examined four foods that can help you ease away anxiety. Now in this final post, let’s look at four healthful daily practices that can help you chill the heck out.

Take a Hike

A simple Google search could come up with thousands of fancy workout routines that claim to make you healthier. But maybe you should try nailing the basics first. When it comes to stress relief, few things are simpler or have stood the test of time as well as going for a walk. Research shows that looking at pictures of nature reduces inflammation markers, blood pressure and perceived stress, and getting out in it offers so much more. Plus a study by Stanford’s Gregory Bratman found that when two groups took a walk – one in an urban setting and another in a natural one – the group exposed to nature quieted the part of the brain that can contribute to certain mental illnesses when over-stimulated.

Get Your Soak On

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In his award-winning portrayal of Winston Churchill in the film Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman showed how Britain’s wartime leader insisted on a daily bath, and even dictated to a secretary who was perched on a stool outside his bathroom. You don’t have to be leading the free world against tyranny to obtain the health benefits of bathing. Instead, just take a soak in the evening and let the cares of your day ease away. If you’re super sore from a race, day on the slopes or workout, you can also try adding Epsom salts and for further mind-clearing, add in a few drops of lavender, mint or citrus essential oils.

Photo: Zac Durant

Meditate or Pray

We spend so much time trying to do everything that we rarely just stop, sit and allow our minds much-needed downtime. That’s exactly what mindfulness meditation provides and, according to extensive research, it is a powerful stress-buster. Need help getting started? Then use an app such as Headspace to guide you. Or if you’re a person of faith, you might instead choose to use the time studying your holy text and praying, as spiritual disciplines have been shown to relieve stress and anxiety as well.

Get Up 15 Minutes Earlier

Anyone who knows me well is going to laugh when they read this tip because they know that I’m not a morning person, to say the least. And yet even a night owl like me can see the value in getting up 15 minutes earlier than I need to. Most of us (yours truly included) rush around like a maniac in the morning, getting ourselves and, if we’re parents, our kids ready and out the door in time for the school run and commute that follows. What if there was a valve you could use each morning to release some pressure? There is! And it’s as simple as setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than usual so you can take your time instead of doing your best impersonation of the old Tasmanian devil cartoon. You could also use this earlier wake time to justify turning in 15 minutes earlier at night.

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