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summer recharge

8 Relaxing summer recharge activities to try 

Summer is the season for rest, relaxation, and recharging. For parents and working professionals, it can still feel like a hectic time and you may find yourself putting off that much needed break. 

Burnout is very real, and can seriously impact your health if left untreated, so before you get there give yourself the time to relax this summer and indulge in self-care with some of our favorite summer recharge activities. You deserve it! 

summer recharge

Try these 8 summer recharge activities to give yourself an energy boost. (Photo by Max on Unsplash)

Feeling drained? Try these summer recharge activities to give you that needed boost! 

Physical recharge activities 

Bring the spa to your home 

Hydrotherapy, aka a bath or shower, is a great way to relax and indulge in some self-care. Take the time each week to give yourself a luxurious bath or shower. Try using Epsom salt in your bath or essential oils. Epsom salt can help to remove toxins, improve muscle function, and reduce inflammation linked to stress. Essential oils can give you many benefits as well which we explore more below in our aromatherapy section. 

Another pampering activity to add to your self-care routine is exfoliating. Exfoliating scrubs will give you that summer recharge by improving blood circulation which in turn will help reduce stress levels, boost energy, and keep you feeling healthy and refreshed. 

Experiment with food 

What you put into your body will greatly impact your energy levels. If you’ve found yourself in a food rut, consuming less-than-nutritious meals due to hectic schedules and stress, try changing things up. You don’t need to do a radical diet or set unrealistic goals, but incorporating a mix of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables, with lean proteins and healthy fat at each meal is a place to start. 

Focus on building a balanced plate. Play with color and texture and try new and exciting recipes! Meal prepping and meal planning is also a habit to build and will help keep you eating healthy, nutritious meals all year long, especially when you’re too busy to cook daily. You can also get the whole family involved with cooking. Make meal prepping a family activity! Set aside a night to cook a family meal together. This is also a great way to teach children some practical skills and spend some quality time together. 

Move your body in new ways

It’s oh so tempting to just lay in bed when you’re feeling tired. You’re relaxing, right? Isn’t that what recharging is all about? Sometimes yes. But often, when you’re feeling exhausted or drained, sitting and lounging around can actually make you feel more tired. 

Instead, try getting up and moving your body. You don’t have to start an intense exercise routine or even do the same thing every day. Keep things fun and interesting by switching it up. Consider trying out some of the latest summer 2021 fitness trends. Take a walking or bike around your neighborhood. Go to the beach and walk along the shore. Start an outdoor yoga group with friends. Or even just dance around your living room in a spontaneous dance party with your kids. The key is to keep your body moving and get that blood circulating. You’ll be feeling energized in no time. 

Find your zen with aromatherapy

Research suggests that aromatherapy is beneficial for treating stress, anxiety, and improving sleep quality. Two scents that are believed to be beneficial for treating stress are lavender and sage. Some aromatherapy essential oils can be mixed with a carrier oil and massaged directly onto the body, rubbed on the wrists or diffused into the air. You can also add them to your baths or showers for extra relaxation. 

Mental recharge activities

Unplug from technology

Social media can be draining. People often seem perfect and it’s easy to forget that what they post are only a snapshot moment of their lives. We can get so caught up in comparing ourselves to others, measuring our successes and failures, and this can quickly bring our spirits down. On top of social media sapping our energy, spending long hours staring at screens, plugging in, and being on the clock can also contribute to burnout. 

When you start feeling like this, it’s time to unplug. Put social media on pause. Go outside and indulge in other activities. One great way you can kick your tech addiction is to create a summer reading list. Work your way through some of your favorite books while sitting out in the sun beach-side, pool-side, or at your local park. 

summer recharge, summer reading

Fuel your summer recharge with these 2021 releases by Latinx authors. (Image source: freepik)

You might be interested: 10 Books by Latinx authors to read summer 2021 

Refocus with meditation 

Studies suggest that meditation can help people find purpose in their lives in times of mental distress. Meditation has been shown to decrease anxiety and fatigue while improving attention and memory.

Some simple ways to incorporate meditation into your life can be to simply sit somewhere quietly each day and practice deep breathing. Even just a few minutes each day can help to improve your mood. Another option is to listen to a guided meditation. There are plenty of mediation and positive affirmation videos or audios available on YouTube and apps like Headspace

Release your inner artist 

While you’re taking your break from technology, get back in tune with your inner artist! Art is a great way to help soothe and relax the mind. Don’t worry about your skill level. Think about how kids express themselves through art. It’s often messy. Abstract. Let that inner child take over. Grab some art supplies and start drawing or painting. Another great relaxing art activity to reduce stress and recharge is coloring. You can find coloring books for adults with complex patterns or cool designs at most bookstores and art supply shops. 

Embark on a journey into journaling 

I bet you’ve had people tell you all about the benefits of journaling before. Have you tried it out, only to feel kind of silly writing out diary-like entries about your day or thoughts? Do you have a collection of discarded journals with only a few pages used? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’ve been there! And I like writing. But sometimes keeping a journal ends up feeling more like a chore and you think: where are those amazing health benefits I was promised? 

Instead of forcing yourself to write daily or pen diary-like entries, use your journal as a tool to help you destress and work through your thoughts. Sometimes when we have a problem, it helps to step back. Take some time to write out your thoughts. Others use their journals to express gratitude for what’s going well and celebrate the little things.

Whatever you’re writing about, don’t worry about making things sound nice and pretty. This is your personal journal, not a public blog. You can make lists, bullet points, fragmented sentences of thoughts or ideas. Make your journal a reflection of yourself. 

Some people like to decorate their journals or add art, mementos, and photos. But don’t feel pressured to have the “perfect” journal. Yours can simply be jotted notes. You can write daily or once a month or just, whenever you need a moment to put your thoughts on paper. 

How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

You’ve probably heard the term “burnout” used over and over again in the workplace, especially after this past year. The popular buzzword sometimes is used flippantly or interchangeably to describe feeling “stressed out” at work, but it’s more than just usual stress. 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recategorized burnout as an occupational syndrome, “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Previously, burnout was only considered “state of vital exhaustion,” though the Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to diagnose burnout, and it is still widely used today. 

This diagnostic tool, developed by Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology (Emerita) and a core researcher at the Healthy Workplaces Center at the University of California, Berkeley, is used by experts to identify burnout in individuals. According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, burnout occurs when these three factors are present: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.

Burnout is on the rise 

An article by Forbes reported that workplace burnout is on the rise since the pandemic began last year. A study conducted by the job-seeking site, Indeed, found that: 

  • 52% of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who reported burnout in Indeed’s pre-pandemic survey. 
  • Millennials are the most affected population, with 59% reporting feelings of burnout. However, Gen Z is following closely behind at 58%, up from 47% pre-pandemic. Additionally, Baby Boomers reported a 7% increase in burnout since the pandemic began, now at 31% compared to the 24% reported pre-COVID-19. Finally, Gen X is close in numbers with Millennials and Gen Z, with over half (54%) of Gen Xers reporting experiences of burnout in the workplace. 

COVID-19 shook up the workforce globally, leading to drastic changes in workplace environments. While working from home many have been easy or beneficial for some, others struggled to adapt and establish routines or juggle both work and family. Among those who responded to Indeed’s survey, 80% believe Covid-19 impacted workplace burnout with a 67% majority saying burnout has worsened during the pandemic, while 13% believe it has gotten better.

Signs of burnout in the workplace

The signs of burnout are not always easy to spot, especially when they’re happening. Many brush off burnout as simple workplace stress. Everyone has bad days, right? But burnout is more than just a few bad days or even a bad week. Burnout is when there never seems to be a good day anymore. Burnout is a chronic response to untreated workplace stress. If you think you may be experiencing burnout, it’s crucial you take a step back and seek help to navigate and overcome these feelings, because burnout can take a toll not only on your mental health, but your physical health as well. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

If you answered yes to any or all of these, you may be experiencing burnout. These may also be signs of other mental health issues, such as depression, so it’s important you speak to your doctor or mental health provider about these feelings. 

Other key signs of burnout include: 

  • Not feeling excited about your work anymore
  • You have stopped putting your usual effort into your work
  • You’re exhausted, easily drained, and emotionally depleted
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms such as insomnia, chest pains, headaches or migraines, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, or gastrointestinal pain. 

What you can do to manage burnout and how employers can help 

Managing burnout is usually not something you can do alone because burnout is a result of workplace stressors which are often outside of your own control. This is why it is important for employers to be aware of burnout and work with their employees to address the common triggers. 

On the personal level, you can work to change your mindset and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Practicing mindfulness and exercising regularly are great ways to naturally cope with stress. Setting aside time each day to do something fun and creative is also a great way to get rid of stressful energy and cultivate joy. 

You might be interested Stress Awareness Month: Coping with post-covid stress and stress at work

Another way to deal with burnout is to make changes in the workplace, such as changing your workload, taking a vacation, or even a prolonged break, and making changes on a systematic level. This is where employers come in. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by workplace stress, approach your boss to have a conversation about the fact that you feel overworked and identify ways to change your workload.

Employers should also lead by example, cultivating a work-life balance and encouraging employees to use their vacation days and sick leave when needed. One way to encourage work-life balance is to set clear boundaries for when someone is “on the clock” and when they are not, such as only responding to work-related emails during the workday and not glamourising or encouraging overtime work. 

The most important thing is open communication and speaking up when it all feels too much. Burnout in the workplace doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Stress Awareness Month: Coping with post-covid stress and stress at work 

After a most stressful year under a global pandemic, health and workplace related stress are higher than ever. This Stress Awareness Month re-balance your work and life by learning how you can better manage post-Covid stress and stress at work. 

Stress Awareness Month’s mission

April is Stress Awareness Month and today, April 16, is National Stress Awareness Day. Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 and during this annual thirty day period, health care professionals and health promotion experts across the country join forces to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

Sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), a non-profit health education organization, Stress Awareness Month is a national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.

“Even though we’ve learned a lot about stress in the past twenty years,” says Dr. Morton C. Orman, M.D., Founder and Director of HRN, “we’ve got a long way to go. New information is now available that could help millions of Americans eliminate their suffering.”

Dr. Orman has invited leading health care organizations across the country to develop and disseminate helpful educational materials and other information about stress during the month of April. He is also encouraging stress experts and other health care leaders to conduct public forums, discussion groups, and other informative community events.

Stress Facts

  • Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses in many individuals.
  • Stress affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system resulting in more illness such as colds and flus and COVID-19. Other conditions such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome can also develop due to prolonged stress. 
  • Tranquilizers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications account for one fourth of all prescriptions written in the U.S. each year. 
  • Stress can contribute to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviors.

How to cope with post-Covid stress 

Since the pandemic began, Covid-19 stress and post-covid stress have become one of the major stressors for people across the globe. The CDC has provided some guidelines and resources for coping with Covid related stress below. 

post-Covid stress

Coping with post-Covid stress. Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Recognize the symptoms of stress you may be experiencing

The first step to coping with stress is to recognize that you are stressed. Many people, especially professionals in fast-paced job environments have become accustomed to brushing off signs of stress or have gotten so used to the feeling that they no longer realize what they are feeling is not healthy. As we have mentioned above, prolonged untreated stress can have very serious health consequences, so it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and make a plan to address and manage it. 

Common signs of stress include: 

  • Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial
  • Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating

Know the common work-related factors that can add to stress during a pandemic

  • Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
  • Taking care of personal and family needs while working
  • Managing a different workload
  • Lack of access to the tools and equipment needed to perform your job
  • Feelings that you are not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline
  • Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment
  • Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties
  • Adapting to a different workspace and/or work schedule

How to cope with post-Covid stress at work 

According to the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 29 to 40% of Americans report being “extremely stressed at work.” And this percentage is only getting higher. Below are some helpful tips and coping mechanisms to help you manage your stress after this most stressful year! 

10 Tips for stress management

  1. Re-balance work & life and develop a solid routine

If you’re spending all your time focusing on work and no time for yourself, then you are bound to burnout. Being available around the clock might make you seem like the perfect worker, but it isn’t healthy. We all need time for ourselves, so make sure you schedule in some dates on your calendar for some “me-time” and fun activities. 

Set boundaries in your work and home life and stick to them to avoid potential stress. This means setting aside time for socializing and setting rules for when you will check emails or take phone calls. Establishing a solid routine and schedule will also help to balance work and life and eliminate stressors. 

  1. Exercise regularly

You’ve probably heard it about a million times, but exercise truly does make you feel better. Regular exercise balances the nervous system and increases blood circulation, helping to flush out stress hormones. You don’t need an elaborate fitness routine either, even just a short walk will make a difference. Eleven minutes a day is all you need to start to see changes. 

  1. Eat well and limit alcohol and stimulants

Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine may temporarily relieve stress but have negative health impacts and can make stress worse in the long run. Well-nourished bodies cope better, so be sure to start the day off with a good, nutritious breakfast and avoid processed foods and sugar throughout the day. And don’t forget to stay hydrated! 

You might be interested: Wheatgrass: How you can boost your health while working from home

  1. Surround yourself with supportive people 

Having people you can rely on will help alleviate some of the built-up tension you may be feeling.

Talking face to face with others releases stress hormones that reduce stress. After this past year of lockdowns and social distancing, talking face to face has become scarcer. But remember social distancing is only about physical distance, so you can still meet up with friends and family for a social distant walk or outdoor gathering–just be sure to take the proper safety precautions when meeting. 

  1. Devote time to hobbies and leisure 

Research shows that engaging in activities that bring you pleasure reduces stress by almost half and lowers your heart rate as well. So indulge in your hobbies! Garden, read, listen to a podcast, make some art, binge your favorite show. Don’t be afraid to disconnect for a bit and have some fun. 

  1. Practice meditation techniques 

Relaxation techniques activate a state of restfulness that counterbalances your body’s fight-or-flight hormones. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness all work to calm your anxiety. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on being present and enjoying a simple activity — whether that’s a short walk around the park or appreciating a meal at your desk. There are also plenty of meditation apps or videos out there that can help guide you through exercises when you’re feeling particularly stressed. 

  1. Get enough sleep 

Getting less than seven to eight hours of sleep makes your body a bad stress-managing machine. Proper sleep is a crucial ingredient to fighting off stress. If you find that stress keeps you up at night, address the cause and add extra meditation into your day to make up for the lost sleep.

  1. Re-evaluate negative thoughts

When you’ve experienced worry and chronic stress for an extended period of time, your mind may tend to jump to conclusions and read into every situation with a negative lens. For example, if a coworker doesn’t say hi to you first thing in the morning, you might react thinking “they’re mad at me.”

Instead of making automatic judgements, try distancing yourself from your negative thoughts and simply observe.

  1. Take a vacation

Sometimes you just need to get away–even if it’s just a “stay-cation.” With travel restrictions still keeping many of us from sandy beaches and sunshine, taking a vacation may seem like a distant dream. But we all still need breaks from time to time, so embrace the spirit of a vacation and give yourself some time off. Leave your cellphone and laptop at home and just switch off for a few days. The rest and relaxation will help you refocus and improve your outlook.

  1. See a counselor, coach or therapist

When it gets to be too much to handle, don’t be afraid to reach out. When negative thoughts overwhelm your ability to make positive changes, it’s time to seek professional help. Make an appointment with a counselor, coach, or therapist and let them guide you toward managing your stress in positive and healthy ways. 

For additional resources visit CDC.gov