Feeling the weight of stress? Autumn offers more than just a change in scenery. It can be the answer to finding your calm before the holidays. We’ve shared the top ten seasonal activities you can do today to start unwinding and relaxing. Want to know how the simplest fall festivities can become powerful tools for well-being? Keep reading!
The Effects of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is more than just a persistent feeling of being overwhelmed. While occasional stress can be a normal response to daily challenges, it can have detrimental consequences for your physical and mental well being if it carries on too long.
High Blood Pressure: Chronic stress activates the body’s “fight or flight” response, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Over time, this persistent state can lead to increased blood pressure.
Digestive Disturbances: Stress can alter the gut’s natural balance, leading to symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. It can also exacerbate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Compromised Immune System: Elevated cortisol levels from chronic stress can suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and delaying the body’s healing processes.
Hormonal Imbalances: Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, potentially affecting menstrual cycles, libido, and even thyroid function.
Elevated Blood Sugar Levels: Stress hormones like cortisol boost blood glucose. For those with diabetes or insulin resistance, this can lead to prolonged high blood sugar levels.
Mental Health Effects
Anxiety: Elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline keep the body in a prolonged “fight or flight” state. This sustained alertness heightens feelings of worry and apprehension, leading to anxiety disorders.
Depression: Alterations in brain chemistry, especially neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, can arise from prolonged stress. Disruptions in these key mood regulators can intensify feelings of sadness and lead to depression.
Fatigue: Chronic stress elevates cortisol levels, disrupting the body’s energy balance. This hormonal imbalance often manifests as persistent fatigue, regardless of sleep duration.
Memory and Concentration Issues: The brain’s prefrontal cortex, responsible for cognitive functions, can be impacted by sustained stress. This can diminish memory retention and hinder concentration capabilities.
Sleep Disturbances: Prolonged tension, stress, and unease often lead to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restorative sleep, resulting in insomnia or other sleep disorders.
By understanding the effects of unchecked stress, you can take proactive measures to address and cope with the challenging aspects of life.
Top 10 Autumn Activities to Boost Your Mood and Unwind
Fall is more than just colorful leaves and a cool breeze. It’s a season rich with unique activities that only come once a year. Engaging in these autumnal adventures offers a refreshing break from the daily routine to unwind and destress. When shared with family or friends, these moments become about more than just relaxation – they’re about creating lasting memories and new fall traditions together. So, here are some activities to help you and your loved ones fully embrace the magic of fall and start combatting stress!
Pumpkin Picking To De-Stress
Take a break from digital screens and connect with nature by rounding up your friends and family to go into the country to find the perfect pumpkins! Feeling the weight and texture of each pumpkin keeps you present, activating tactile senses that can soothe the amygdala, our brain’s stress center.
Apple Picking To De-Stress
Plucking a crisp apple directly from the tree connects you to nature. This natural setting can reduce cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, promoting a sense of calm. The fresh air and physical activity further amplify the positive effects on your mental well-being.
Cook A Seasonal Meal Together to De-Stress
Take your family and friends to the local farmer’s market to pick your favorite fall veggies for a nutritious, seasonal dinner! The quality time and bonding over what recipes you’ll make, trying new dishes, and supporting a local business will release oxytocin, the bonding hormone, promoting relaxation.
Nature Art Creations To De-Stress
From your backyard, a nearby beach, or the forest watch for natural items to create unique art pieces on the ground. Arranging stones, leaves, twigs, and seashells into patterns or shapes channels creativity, grounding you in the moment. This artful expression engages your brain, stimulating the release of positive neurotransmitters, uplifting mood and reducing feelings of tension.
Halloween Crafting To De-Stress
Gather your family or friends to create Halloween crafts that everyone will love! Engaging in hands-on activities stimulates the brain in a way that distracts from daily worries. Tapping into your creativity is an underrated form of mindfulness, which has been proven to reduce stress hormones and help process trauma.
Planting Bulbs for Spring To De-Stress
Get in tune with the Earth’s rhythm by planting your spring and summer garden now! Seeing your garden blossom is incredibly rewarding. From picking out the bulbs, selecting where they will go in the garden, and nurturing them until the flowers bloom, it shows deep care. The motions can be meditative and further relieve stress.
Nature Walk/Hike To De-Stress
Get outside, whether on your own or with those you love, and take in the autumn foliage. Being in nature, especially amidst the vibrant colors of fall, has been linked to lowered cortisol levels. The act of walking and having steady state cardio boosts endorphin levels, nature’s painkiller and mood enhancer, giving a double dose of stress relief.
Corn Maze Adventure To De-Stress
Challenge your navigational skills and immerse in playful problem-solving. Engaging your brain in this fun but complex activity provides a unique mental workout. As you navigate, the novelty and challenge can divert your mind from daily stressors, offering a refreshing mental break with the serotonin boost at the end!
Backyard Bonfire To De-Stress
End a crisp autumn day by gathering around a backyard bonfire. The mesmerizing flames and warmth offer a primal comfort. Being in such an atmosphere, sharing stories with your friends, family, or neighbors, and listening to the crackling fire can activate parasympathetic nervous response, helping you to relax and de-stress.
Flora and Fauna Tea to De-Stress
Autumn is perfect for sipping a warm, cozy cup of tea. What is even more rewarding is forging the flora and fauna to make your own blend. Look for lemon balm, chamomile, and rosehip in autumn, depending on your area. These natural treasures have properties known to ease tension and promote relaxation. After gathering, brew a warm cup to sip and relax. Always be sure to accurately identify plants (there are many excellent books) and pick from areas free from pesticides or pollutants.
This once-a-year opportunity is the perfect time to take a pause and de-stress before the holidays. Gather your friends and family for quality time and rejuvenate in nature. Carving out time to participate in simple activities like these will do wonders for both your short-term and long-term well-being, getting you closer to living your healthiest life!
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