It’s summer and we’re all trying to enjoy it. Unfortunately, for some of us summer is a time of higher anxiety. Our routines go out the window. Children are home every day. The nice weather, although lovely, pressures us to go outside, get active and socialize with others.
The things that ground us and make us feel safe — structured days, time alone, ability to hunker down at home — do not dominate in the summer.
I understand this love/hate regard for June through August. To help us all relax and thrive during the warm weather, I am going to share three tips that absolutely reduce stress levels. I use all of them and they work!
3 Tips to Reduce Anxiety
- Singing: According to Dr. Stephen Porges, long exhalations promote calmness and short exhalations support anxiety. Singing with its drawn out lyrics, requires us to naturally extend our exhalation as we fit all the words of a verse or line into it. Get in your car, roll down the windows, turn on the radio and sing your heart out. Your nervous system loves it.
- Remove low-frequency sounds from your environment: Our nervous system feels low-frequency sounds such as escalators, noisy HVAC systems, crowded lunch rooms, construction noise, etc. as threatening. Such sounds keep our nervous system on alert, particularly if we have had trauma in our past.
The quieter and more pleasant the sounds in our environment, the easier it is to relax. An example of a pleasing, physiologically soothing sound, is music with melodic, prosodic vocals. Prosody is the intonation in voice that conveys emotion. Female vocals often offer prosody. If you can’t escape low-frequency sounds, consider playing soft music to muffle them. Carpeting and wall hangings help absorb sound. Summer heat gives us an excuse to turn on the AC, close windows and shut out jarring sounds, such as traffic too.
- Write down all of your worries: Get out a piece of paper and actually physically write down what is keeping you up at night. Write everything without censoring or grammar concerns. It is OK if your handwriting is atrocious. It does not matter. This is for you only. It is best to do this before bedtime. Our brains are naturally inclined to want to help us remember everything, especially the things it perceives as threats to our existence. If we put our worries down on paper, that frees up our brains for rest, creativity or other less threatening thoughts.
I hope these tips help you feel less stimulated and more at ease so you can soak up the sun and find joy in your summer.
How do you keep your summer light and enjoyable? What about summer works well with your nervous system?
Two other ways to find calm and contentment this summer:
The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World and a luxurious box of gifts from The Wallflower Box. Both created especially for sensitive people. Click on each image to learn more.