Don't Stress It!

Life Lesson on Stress Management

Recently I was asked to share a life lesson that I have learned in the Adirondacks. And with that question, my mind simply started spinning. I have been blessed to have not only grown up in the Adirondack Park, but also to have been given the opportunity to raise my family here. As a result, many of the most important lessons that I have learned throughout my life have taken place right here on our lakes, trails and ski slopes. But of all lessons I have learned, I think that lately there is one lesson that seems to help me more than anything... how to manage stress!

The Symptoms:

Headaches, ringing in the ear, irritability,  muscle tension, the intense desire to smash all electronic devices.

The Cause: 

STRESS! Between the 9 to 5 grind and that never ending to-do-list around the house, you feel like you can't get your head above water. In between work and home you have to pick up the kids, bring one child to baseball practice, another to band practice, run to the grocery store, all while trying to remember to stop to pick up a birthday card for Susan in accounting. Am I alone here, or does life sometimes get overwhelming?

The Cure: 

A spoon full of Mother Nature...

Raquette Lake, NY
Raquette Lake, NY

I have found that the best cure for stress is to remove yourself from your current stress inducing environment and place yourself in nature. I know what you are thinking... "I don't have time, if I did, then I wouldn't be so stressed!" I have said this same thing to myself a thousand times... but every time I do, I am wrong! When I am stressed, my productivity drops. When my productively level drops, I stress even more because I'm falling deeper into quick sand. Then bam... before I know it, that pesky virus the kids were passing around at school lands smack on my lap and I am either bedridden or should be - but simply don't have the time to give in to it.

It's time to schedule some time for myself! But time is valuable and there is truly only one location where I can quickly de-stress. So where do I retreat... a mountain top, a river bank, anywhere where the only noise I hear is the water, the wind, and the birds. Only here can my mind slow down.

5 Stress-Busting Activities

1. Take a Hike

Quick peaks
Quick peaks

Yes, I mean it... take a hike! Drop what you are doing and get out of there. It doesn't have to be a an extremely challenging, or even long hike... you simply just need to get out there for a while. On a day when I am over-stressed, I try to sneak off for for a quick hike. In an hour or two I can even do a smaller mountain peak like Coney Mountain or Castle Rock. During this time, my mind slows down, the endorphins start pumping and by the time I reach the top I am rewarded with more than just a spectacular view - I also have a better outlook. Then I return feeling refreshed, I have more energy, and ultimately end up being more productive.

2. Go Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater Rafting (Photo courtesy of Adirondac Rafting Co.)
Whitewater Rafting (Photo courtesy of Adirondac Rafting Co.)

It's pretty hard to stress about whatever it is on your mind while you are tackling whitewater. Seriously, can you think of a better way to distract yourself then with an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip? If you are looking for a way to lower the stress level in your entire office, consider making  it a staff outing. Not only will they lower their anxiety, they will also have a great team building exercise. 

3. Sit by a Waterfall

Buttermilk Falls
Buttermilk Falls

Yup, I said sit! Not talk, take photos, or check your e-mail on your handheld device. Simply sit and listen. Did you you know that people actually pay for machines and music tracks that mimic this sound? But think of what they are missing: the feeling of the sun rays coming down on their shoulder blades, the sound of the birds, the wind and the rustling of leaves, and the smell. I can't say that I have ever tried to meditate, but sitting by a waterfall, listening, breathing slowly as I take it all in... I guess this may be my own version... this is what works for me.

4. Paddle your Heart Out!

Paddle the Sacandaga River
Paddle the Sacandaga River

A paddling trip, short or long, can be a relaxing activity to help you de-stress. There is something in the rhythmic motion of the paddle in your hands as you kayak along the glass-like water. This is more of a schedule clearing kind-of activity in my mind. I like to pack up the kayak and make a day trip out of it. Sneak off to a new place and discover what awaits me. The beauty of the Adirondacks is that I could spend my whole life exploring and yet still have more hidden places to explore! That alone is inspiring!

5. Cast a line

Fishing near Raquette Lake
Fishing near Raquette Lake

Find a fishermen and ask them how stressed they are! Find your own private fishing hole, cast a line and just see how your day unfolds. I bet you'll leave with a feeling of contentment - big fish or not.

Plan Your Own De-STRESS-Cation Today!

Feeling a little stressed? Make time for yourself... make time to escape and connect with nature. Take a deep breath of fresh air. Feel your footprints soften as you transition from hard man-made surfaces to the natural, more forgiving ground. Let your mind relax, and enjoy the moment as it is. A vacation in the Adirondacks will leave you feeling refreshed, less stressed, and more productive when you return. So don't make excuses, make time for yourself and start planning your Adirondack getaway today. 

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