Stress-Reducing Backyard Activities | Guest Post by Billy Bum
There’s no way around it – the pace of modern life can sometimes feel overwhelming. Most people are trying to balance work, their personal lives, manage their health, and with the Coronavirus pandemic, keeping it together has become even more challenging.
Developing coping strategies to better manage the pressures in your life is vital since prolonged periods of stress can lead to chronic health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
Stress management techniques can help you deal with stress effectively and achieve health benefits. When coping with stress, your backyard can be of great help! Activities that take place outdoors provide even more benefits and effective ways of managing stress that are the ones that truly make the difference.
Let’s take a look at some of the effective stress-reducing backyard activities.
- Engaging in Physical Activity
Moving your body and working out is an effective way to mitigate stress and stay in shape! And you can include your whole family in activities like basketball, volleyball, dancing, or chasing each other in your yard. Pick something you all love and enjoy the benefits. Just 30 minutes of blood-pumping activities can have a positive effect on your physical and mental well-being. When you exercise, you stimulate the production of the so-called “feel good” hormones like endorphin, serotonin, and dopamine. As a result, you can feel improvements in your mood and your ability to cope with stress. And when all of your loved ones engage in physical activities, you can all expect a rise in energy levels and a greater sense of well-being. Even a single bout of exercise affects the body’s feel-good chemicals, so why not take advantage of this amazing activity?
- Practicing Relaxation Techniques
You can practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or tai chi individually or with your family. It’s an excellent way to unwind and spend some quality time together. Yoga and meditation have many health benefits, from strengthening the immune system, reducing stress and anxiety, to improving cognition, endurance, and strength. When practiced together, they are a powerful combination that can boost your entire family’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Tai chi movements are repetitive and easy to learn. This traditional Chinese exercise has been demonstrated to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and even improve immune function. And don’t worry; it doesn’t require endurance or strength, so people of all fitness levels can engage in Tai chi.
And you know what’s even greater? Staying outside in nature has additional benefits you can reap while practicing these techniques in your backyard. Staying outdoors for just 20 minutes enhances your mood and keeps stress at bay. Don’t forget to leave your smartphone in the house to avoid any distractions and enjoy the screen-free time.
- A Movie Night in Your Backyard
A movie under the stars is always a great idea! To set up your own outdoor movie theater, you’ll need a movie screen, but don’t worry – you don’t have to break the bank to get one. You can make your own backyard movie screen. When it comes to projectors, you can find some inexpensive ones, or simply borrow a projector from your friends or neighbors. Spread some blankets and throw some pillows around the screen, and you are good to go! If you want to spice things up a bit, you can prepare some delicious movie snacks and create some magic in your garden with string lights and paper lanterns. Nice subtle lighting and beautiful details like lanterns will give your backyard a special feel.
- Engage in Gardening
As mentioned before, being outdoors itself has plenty of well-being benefits like alleviating stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. Participating in family gardening activities can boost your mental health even more. Studies have demonstrated the amazing effects of microbes in soil on our brains. It seems that bacteria found in soil work in a similar way to antidepressants. They elevate our mood and sense of well-being by increasing the release of serotonin. Gardening can be a fun family activity, and studies have confirmed lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and an improved mood after playing in the dirt, so get outside and get dirty!
- Creative and Mental Activities
Reading is one of the mental activities that are known to combat stress efficiently. And your yard is the perfect getaway to lay back and read a book you love in your favorite chair while sipping on a glass of wine. A study done by the University of Sussex found that reading for just 6 minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent! A family book club is a great way to encourage your little ones to start reading. Creative activities, like art projects, have also been recognized as a great way to diminish stress and anxiety. You can assemble various leaves, flowers, and whatever you can find in your garden and make flower fairies and other collage creatures with your kids. Sketching, painting, and crafting are proven stress-busters. They are also great ways to let your youngsters express their creativity and strengthen your family bonds too.
- Fun Outdoor Games
Backyard games are fun, and they also provide healthy activity for all of the participants. Water balloon catch will always result in heaps of fun, especially during the hot days. You just need to fill the balloons with water and play catch! Scavenger hunt never seems to get old and boring. It takes a bit of preparation, but everybody will enjoy looking for rocks, certain types of leaves, or whatever you have in your backyard. There are numerous backyard games like hopscotch, bean bag toss, and plenty of others for every age and skill level. Just take your pick and enjoy fun times with your favorite people.
We cannot avoid stress. It is a part of life, especially in today’s fast-paced world. In small doses, it can even be beneficial and help us accomplish tasks or prevent us from getting hurt. But when it comes to chronic, long-term stress, we need to adopt stress management techniques to handle pressure and unpleasant situations better. There is a way to prevent or cope with stress overload and avoid the health consequences that come with it. If you are feeling overwhelmed and cannot deal with it yourself, talk to a counselor or a therapist to assist you in developing effective coping skills.