20 minutes away from less stress
Have you felt stressed? For most people, stress is short term, but for others it becoms a health issue. In this article, we’ll talk about stress and present an easy solution to combat the chronic type.
- Stress can be useful as it helps us perform. It’s a healthy part of our reaction pattern.
- Without a balance between stress and feeling on top of things, you can develop chronic stress. Chronic stress is a threat to your health.
- Suffering from chronic stress can affect things like sleep, mood, consentration, disease and pain.
- 20-30 minutes out in nature can actually help combat chronic stress!
What is stress
Many associate stress with the feeling of running late. That acute feeling when you’re on your way to a meeting that started 5 minutes ago, and you’re stuck in traffic. That kind of stress is short term, and is harmless. It’s a natural reaction that we are dependent on for survival. When you need to react, let’s say you’re in danger, a series of actions start in your body to sharpen your senses. Adrenalin, cortisol and other stress hormones are pushed through your body. That increases bloodpressure and muscle tension. Your body puts all it’s resources into handling the situation, and less into things like memory, digestion and other normal bodily functions. As soon as the danger passes (or you’re no longer running late), your body returns to normal state. Stress makes you able to react, and the stress responses in the body is a healthy and needed function.
Chronic stress develops when you are exposed to too many situations where the stress response is activated. Feeling like the demands at home, in your personal life or at work are more than you can handle, will trigger the response. The feeling of not being on top of your tasks and not coping will put your body into alarm-mode. If you don’t do anything about it, you keep the body in that state of alarm. Having high levels of stress in your body over a prolonged period of time can lead to a number of different illnesses. Unfortunately, a lot of people are in chronic stress without even knowing it. Not all of us will recognize the symptoms, because it’s become so normal to have busy lives and too much to do. If you learn to recognize the symptoms, there are easy measures you can to do reduce your stress.
Symptoms of chronic stress
There are many symptoms you can experience when exposed to chronic stress. Here are some of them:
- Problems sleeping. Either having a hard time falling asleep, or you wake up several times every night
- Muscle pain, especially back and neck
- Chest pain
- Feeling uneasy
- Feeling irritable and in a bad mood
- Bad memory
- Poorer ability to concentrate
- Feeling like you’re not able to relax
One simple solution
There are a lot of things you can do to get out of the spiral. Set healthy boundaries. Ask for help. Learn strategies to cope with stress. These are all measures which requires you to make some changes. Change usually takes time. We’re not saying to not do these things, but there is also a solution that could help here and now.
Research shows that being out in nature for 20-30 minutes will reduce the physical stress levels in your body considerably. It’s important that you’re not out in nature doing something else, like being out for a run or talking to friends. Your main goal is just staying in a green area, either strolling around or sitting down taking in the sounds and feeling of being outside. Put your phone away in silent mode to avoid being disturbed. Doing that 2-3 times a week can help your body back in balance.
Not every one has nature easily available. Spending more time in nature isn’t a sustainable solution for you, if it means stressing more in order to get there. In that case, a better solution would be to go for walks outside in your neighborhood. It probably won’t have the same effect as spending time in nature, but getting some alonetime to sort your thoughts can still be helpful. Do the best with what you have – the most important thing is that you give your self some down-time.
20 minutes, 3 times a week. That’s an easy thing to offer for better sleep quality, more energy, better memory, better health and a better well being.
Hunter, M., Gillespie, B. & Chen, S. (2019). Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers. Frontiers in psychology. Vol 10. From: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722 [08.02.2023]