Stress can be overwhelming when you are struggling with the demands of everyday life: deadlines at work, the expectations of a relationship, or troubles managing finances are just a few of the reasons people all over Calgary feel stressed out. And, while “positive stress” can be motivating, too many stressors at once can overload our ‘fight or flight’ response, causing mental and physical drain and leading to more serious mental health conditions.
According to a Statistics Canada report, 73 percent of working adults aged 20 to 64 report having some level of stress. For those aged 35 to 54, nearly one-third of respondents feel ‘extremely’ stressed on a regular basis. If you’re one of them, here are a few proven ways that you can help your body relax – whether you live in Shawnessy, Sage Hill, or Saddle Ridge.
1) The Regal Cat Café in Kensington
Researchers have shown that snuggling up to a fluffy friend can have major benefits for stress reduction. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 74 percent of those surveyed reported mental health improvements as a result of bringing a pet into the family. Positive interactions with animals lead to an increase of oxytocin in the brain, the hormone responsible for making you feel bonding, love and well-being – so if you’re unable to bring a pet home, you can visit Kensington’s Regal Cat Café. Grab an afternoon tea and cuddle up to one of the many friendly kittens for a natural dose of stress relief.
2) Enjoy Provincial and City Parks Around Calgary
Studies from the University of Queensland recommend a minimum ‘dose of nature,’ encouraging individuals to spend at least 30 minutes in a park each week. But how does that help? Just like a stressful environment – like a traffic jam or a busy mall – can increase our stress levels, nature is proven to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and even the production of stress hormones. Luckily for Calgarians, nature isn’t hard to find, and several parks make this list.
Relax at Sandy Beach Park
Visit the serene banks of the Elbow River on a crisp afternoon at Sandy Beach Park, located in the neighbourhood of Altadore. This tree-lined beach and pathway makes an excellent spot to forget you’re in the middle of a city, and even in the autumn it provides a welcome escape from the hustle of daily life.
Stroll Around the Glenmore Reservoir
An urban wonder, the Glenmore Reservoir – best accessed from North Glenmore Park, at the extreme southern end of Crowchild Trail – is a manmade lake with plenty of pathways, green space, and trees. Whether you want to get in some biking or jogging, have a picnic in the sun, take a quick canoe ride, or simply sit and watch the clouds go by, this is a Calgary favourite for good reason. You can rest, refocus, and enjoy the birds and animals that dot the landscape, all just minutes from home.
Get A Morning Run at Nose Hill Park
A must-visit for dog walkers and exercise buffs, Nose Hill Park (located between 14 St and Shaganappi Trail NW, between the neighbourhoods of Huntington Hills, Beddington Heights, Edgemont, and Brentwood) is one of the largest parks in North America, at 11 square kilometres. With an off-leash dog park, numerous hills and valleys, and much of the plant and animal life native to the area, this tiny bit of nature inside Calgary is a perfect destination for a morning jog, an evening walk, or an outing with the family.
Sports at Bowness Park
From curling and skating in winter to tennis and river floating in summer, Bowness Park is a staple of Calgary life – especially for people who want to stay active year-round. Enjoy the wonderful smell of the pines and poplars as you walk through the plentiful paths near the water and through the trees. If you venture further east, the pathways connect to a larger network that crosses the river, offering a large area to clear your head and enjoy the fresh air.
3) Outdoor Yoga, Indoor Rock Climbing, and More
Just like the walking and biking mentioned above, physical activities like yoga and swimming are good for more than just physical health – they have a significant positive impact on mental health as well. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains that exercise not only allows you to reduce fatigue, improve alertness and enhance cognitive function – all which lead to a better mental state – but it also produces endorphins. Endorphins improve our ability to sleep and in turn, reduce our stress levels. Calgary is an active city, and you can easily find outdoor yoga classes throughout the spring and summer months. But if you’re looking for something indoors, explore the many options our city has to offer including boxing classes, rock climbing, swimming and more.
Reducing Stress in Daily Lift
While there are many natural ways to help reduce stress in your life, we understand that the more intrinsic root causes of stress can be overwhelming at times. Avoiding those root causes and prolonging stress over years can have negative impacts on your long-term mental health and can often lead to anxiety disorders and depression.
If you’re experiencing heavy stress on a regular basis, working with a professional can help you to find the proper coping mechanisms for you and can also open new doors to solving the problems that lead to your stress initially. Stress does not have to dictate your everyday life – the proper support and resources can help you to feel in control, and Your Counselling is here to get you where you want to be.