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Invest in Your Health: Take a 20-Minute Stress Break

By Sandy Schroeder

Can you spare 20 minutes to lower your stress and make the whole day better? If you are on edge a lot, your family and co-workers probably wish you would take a stress break to cut through the tension and lower your stress.

If you are getting that look from your friends, family and co-workers, your stress may have reached the snapping point. If you find yourself barking at everyone, instead of really listening, or simply pushing ahead to do whatever it takes to get things done, you may very badly need to take a daily stress break to wind down and regroup.

Usually I can let go of my stress with a brisk walk or an hour of stretching on my yoga mat, but sometimes when one demand after another hits, I feel the tension and tend to react fast. Things that might be handled with a laugh or a nod suddenly become very irritating and I find myself responding in kind with a sharp remark. Later, I apologize and resolve the issue, but the damage has already been done. When others run into this kind of tension and stress, it is very tempting to take their business elsewhere.

Connect with Nature to Lower Stress

If you can relate, you may want to try Harvard Health's suggestion for lowering stress. Harvard researchers have found 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels.

Reporting in the April 4, 2019 issue of Frontiers in Psychology, the stress solution was found in a study of 36 people who spent 10 minutes or more, three days a week for eight weeks, in an outdoor setting. They used public parks, green spots at work, or their own yards and either sat or walked around. Researchers ask them to avoid calls, conversation or other social media during the break.

Building on this research, the scientists found spending 20 to 30 minutes in a nature spot produced the biggest drop in cortisol stress levels.

They say the next time you are totally wound up, just take a break and find a green spot outdoors to sit and think as you let your stress drain away.

I would advise taking this solution one step farther. Why not build 10 to 30 minutes of nature relief into every day to head off stress before it becomes an issue. Here are some ways to make it happen.

  • Have your morning coffee out on your deck or patio
  • Take a brief mid-morning walk at work
  • Finish off your lunch with an outdoor routine of stretching or walking
  • Break up the afternoon with 10 minutes of walking outside
  • After dinner take the dog for a walk

Regular small amounts of outside time could be the secret to staying a little more mellow all of the time. If you try it, see if the people around you notice the difference. I suspect they will.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Wellington, Fla.

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