It almost seems as if we have forgotten how real rest works. Those who are exhausted might rest in front of the TV for an evening or just want to do nothing for a change. Just lying around and letting the soul dangle – that usually doesn’t recover us as much as we had hoped. Especially in times of crisis like these, it is enormously difficult to really switch off mentally. And as soon as a stupid thought crosses our mind while we’re lazing around, relaxation is far away again. Rest means that we recharge our batteries and draw new energy. And that can work even in difficult times. Our nine tips for a restful summer time in times of crisis.
Focus on the here and now
Mindfulness has been experiencing a real boom for years. It’s about worrying less about the past and the future and instead focusing on the moment. Instead of keeping our heads already full of worry about the impending autumn wave, it is worthwhile to focus on the current situation. After all, that is what we really have in our hands. If you don’t manage to do this straight away, you can use aids such as guided meditation or yoga. But sometimes it is enough to simply concentrate consciously on the breath for a few minutes. By the way, mindfulness not only has a positive effect on our energy reserves, but also on our health. The mindfulness training MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) by molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, for example, can even reduce the sensation of pain, as several studies have shown. Mindfulness exercises are also said to have a positive effect on depression and stress, provided they are practised regularly.
Take an extensive smartphone break
To avoid stress, we need to cut out sources of stress. And – let’s face it – the smartphone isn’t exactly a recreational guarantor. Shitstorms on social media, a flood of negative news and the feeling of having to be constantly reachable so as not to miss anything; we carry all this around with us every day in the form of a smart phone. Not so smart, is it? At least when rest is the goal. That’s why digital detox is part of recharging our batteries these days. Of course, this doesn’t mean that mobile phones are banned for weeks on end. It’s more about taking targeted smartphone breaks – to take a deep breath. If we don’t manage to do that, in the worst case we will be permanently under power. This can even lead to digital burnout, says Alexander Markowert, professor of computer science at the University of Bonn in a lecture. But: “The long-term consequences of technological development and our vehement use can only be guessed at present.”
Spend as much time as possible with friends
Friends are a beautiful thing. They are always there for you, bring joy to your life and even help lower our stress levels. So how about spending the holidays with good friends? According to a Canadian study, face-to-face meetings with people we care about have been shown to increase our well-being. This is mainly because you get emotional support and can (at best) give yourself as you are. This in turn lowers the stress hormone cortisol, as the Freiburg psychology professor Markus Heinrichs was able to prove in a study.
Include nerve food in your diet
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But recovery can do the same. If you want to recharge your batteries by eating with relish, you should include the following foods in your diet:
Bananas, because the fruit is a real magnesium guarantor. Magnesium ensures that our nervous system is balanced. If this is not the case, we are nervous and stressed.
Pulses, because they also contain a lot of magnesium. In addition, the calcium they contain has a positive effect on mental stability.
Cocoa, because the dark gold can lower our blood pressure and inhibits the release of the stress hormone cortisol. And the darker the better – because the protein tryptophan is mainly found in dark chocolate and balances out stress. So chocolate does somehow make you happy.
Lemons, because they provide a large portion of vitamin C and lots of antioxidants. And the combination makes the body cope better with stress.
Oatmeal, because with its combination of iron, magnesium and B vitamins, it provides the perfect basis for a stress-free day.
Packing without stress
Camping checklist for a carefree outdoor holiday
Re-establish the afternoon nap
Hated as a child, as an adult many dream of the good old days: The afternoon nap is a matter of taste. But according to sleep researchers, it often gives us the rest we need. They sometimes assume that the human organism needs not just one, but two sleep phases within 24 hours. So if you take a little “power nap”, you can really recharge your batteries. A study by US researchers showed that a nap of at least 45 minutes lowers blood pressure and relieves the cardiovascular system. However, you should not press the snooze button, because it has the opposite effect on our recovery.
Take a trip into the countryside
“Nature is the best pharmacy”, Sebastian Kneipp once said. And he was right. In the meantime, numerous studies have proven that a walk in nature can work wonders – well, almost. Environmental scientists from the University of Michigan, for example, found that just 20 to 30 minutes outdoors can significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body. On holiday, it is therefore worthwhile to spend more time outdoors and to explore the area away from the beaches. Because: Above all, the forest is good for us. A study by the University of Parma showed that spending time in the forest has many positive effects on the body. According to the study, we reduce stress, strengthen our immune system and reduce the symptoms of depression. And by the way, we also recharge our batteries.
Move more than usual
Sport is murder is a well-tried proverb that people who don’t do much sport like to fall back on. But the truth is that exercise can make us happier and healthier. Endurance sports in particular are known to release the hormones endorphin and serotonin – both of which have been proven to reduce stress and increase our well-being. Those who exercise regularly also train the release of the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and insulin. This makes the body more resistant to stress in the long run. By the way, even small changes in everyday life or on holiday are enough to establish more exercise. For example, by cycling to the office or walking to the beach instead of taking the car or bus.
Do what you feel like doing
The main thing is that others are doing well – that’s what far too many people think in everyday life. Therefore, at the latest when you are on holiday, it is the right time to also consider your own needs and finally ask yourself: What do I actually want to do, what would I like to eat and with which people would I like to spend time? If you can find the answers to these questions, you are already one step closer to the right kind of relaxation.