You may not realize the stress you are under, which is why you need scenic landscapes for visual stress relief!
What is Stress?
In looking at definitions of stress, these are some of the words and phrases used:
- a force exerted
- pressing or pulling on or pushing against
- twist or compress
- deformation caused by an outside force
Some of these words are more for the scientific aspect of stress, but the adjectives still get the point across for the stress we feel: compressed, outside forces, pressing, exerted forces…
Merriam-Webster c: defines stress as a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.
Some stress isn’t bad. Our bodies were designed to utilize stress in a good way for a short amount of time.
For example, if a car stops suddenly in front of you or your child wanders off to look at the toys in the store, your body is flooded with hormones. Your heart rate picks up, you breathe faster, your blood pressure increases, your body creates sugar for increased energy, and your muscles tighten – all of this to help you fight or take flight. This is great for hitting the brakes to avoid crashing into the car in front of you or for rushing to the toy aisle in the store. And after the need for these hormones ceases, your body calms back down to normal rhythms.
However, these “fight or flight” hormones are the same ones released when you are stressed. So while some stress is good, in the long run, the extra effort of your body constantly in the “fight or flight” takes its toll.
The Typical Causes of Stress
What are you stressed about?
From stress.org, the leading cause of stress in 2017 was the future of our nation, while in 2014 it was job pressure. Unsurprisingly, 78% of us said c-flu was a source of stress in 2020 (per the American Psychological Association).
(What did surprise me about the article is how much stress from c-flu has impacted children and teens. Read the article here.)
The Effects of Stress: Short-Term and Long-Term
As mentioned above, your body works hard during stressful situations to leave you prepared to fight or flee. But stressful situations are supposed to be short in duration so your body can return to normal functions. Constant stress makes your body work harder than it needs to and can lead to:
These are just a few of the possible effects. For more indications of stress, go here and here.
The long-term effects are even more serious. Especially to your heart – it seems to take the brunt of the consequences.
10 Ways to Combat Stress
There are ways to combat stress and a lot of the ways are very practical:
- Eat nutritious meals – your body is better equipped to heal itself and function properly when it gets the right nutrients, vitamins, proteins, fats, greens, natural sugars, etc.
- Get enough sleep – most of us are tired, to begin with, and living in a constant state of stress just makes the fatigue worse. Try to be in bed for nine hours a night so you have a shot of eight hours of sleep. (Studies indicate that for a total of a tenth of your sleep cycle, you are actually awake, just not necessarily aware you’re awake.)
- A warm bath can help you relax fully as you let the stress drain away. In a pinch, a hot shower can also help.
- Go for a walk. Stretch and move your body.
- Laugh. Children laugh about 400 times a day while adults may laugh 15 times a day if that. Find a clean comedy and laugh. Or play a silly game with the kids or reminisce with siblings – remember that time when…
- Talk with a trusted friend. So often when we say what we are stressed about out loud, it suddenly sounds less stressful.
- If money is a stressor due to the amount of debt you have (8 out of 10 Americans have debt), get out of debt. I went through Financial Peace and found it very helpful.
- Turn off the news. Spend less time on social media. The news is very stressful and normally not even useful, so turn it off. The same for social media. If you want to see what your sister is up to, check out her status and then get off again. Or better yet give her a call or write her a letter. A handwritten letter received via snail mail is a fun and unexpected gift.
- Spend 15 minutes straightening up a room and decluttering. We like our possession, but often they serve no purpose other than “someday” and end up being clutter today. (You could always have a yard sale with the clutter and throw the money towards your debt…)
- Read a good book. Learn something new or just enjoy an adventure.
Be careful that managing your stress doesn’t become an avoidance in dealing with the stress. I love a good book, but I can use reading as a tool to avoid stressor issues.
Visual Stress Relief
Often when you recognize unhealthy stress, you don’t have time to go for a walk. It’s too late in the day to go to bed early. Your friend is busy with her own stuff. You cannot unheard the news stressing you out.
In these cases, it may help to spend some time looking at a scenic landscape. This is a visual stress relief activity.
You look at a landscape and pretend to be walking along the trail, breathing in the scents of loamy earth, rain on the air, hear the rush of a waterfall just up ahead, feel the rock of the stairs under your feet, and see the greenery all around.
Maybe you look at an ocean landscape while listening to a recording of waves crashing to shore. You imagine walking barefoot across the sand, with the waves rushing over your feet and back out again, the salty breeze caressing your face, as the sunrises.
Colors are important when picking scenery to look at. Greens and blues are the main colors in nature. Green foliage, blue skies, and waters. Blue and green are considered calming colors.
And while you may also find a sunset or sunrise that eases stress, the reds, oranges, and yellows may also be energizing if you need a boost of energy.
Or pick a landscape that you find the most relaxing and focus on your breathing while looking at the landscape. Breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of five, breathe out for a count of five, and hold for a count of five. Repeat this at least two more times for a full minute.
Visual Stress Relief Landscapes for You
There are different scenic landscape bundles in my Etsy store for you to download as you begin your visual stress relief journey. There are several ocean shots and several nature shots. (A few of the landscapes are pictured above.) Go here to download them now!