Advice matters
Five science-backed ways to a relaxing summer

After a year like 2021 (and 2020 before it), the holiday break gives us all a great opportunity to pause, reflect, and reset.

If you’re seeking tried-and-true ways to relax and recharge this summer, these science-backed techniques may just be what you need right now. And as always, for extra peace of mind, our SHARE advisers are here to answer all your financial-related questions.

Deep breathing

When we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, even something as simple as breathing can be easy to overlook. However, the benefits of controlled breathing have been known to the world for millennia, dating back to several ancient civilisations and philosophies.

More recently, numerous studies have investigated the link between improved physical and mental wellbeing, and breathing techniques. Research conducted in 2013, for example, found that anxiety levels dropped in a group of students who practised pranayama breathing techniques for six weeks.

Another study, published in 2017, revealed that workers practising deep, diaphragm breathing sessions had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. What’s more, studies have shown that breathing exercises can help improve sleep quality, reduce blood pressure, and even manage pain. So if you’re looking for ways to relax and recharge, make sure you take a moment or two to breathe your way through the holidays.

Relaxing foods

Did you know that some foods can help reduce anxiety and contribute your relaxation? According to several studies, dark chocolate, fatty fish, turmeric, green tea, chamomile, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, and eggs can help reduce the symptoms of psychological stress. Some are also natural mood-boosters, and have been found to improve sleep and memory. You can find a full list here.

Swimming in cold water

Anecdotal evidence abounds, but science is just starting to explore the feel-good factors around taking a dip in cold water.

According to supporters of ‘cold water therapy’, this technique can improve circulation, spike energy levels, and help deepen your sleep. What medical experts have found is that athletes soaking in a pool of cold water (12°C to 15°C) reported less muscle soreness than those who skipped hydrotherapy after exercising. But the benefits don’t end there: in another study, researchers discovered that taking short, twice-daily cold showers can help reduce depressive symptoms.

You certainly don’t need to take a plunge into icy waters this summer: our oceans, lakes and rivers are probably fresh enough to give you a good ‘tingle’.

It’s not just what you do – but where you are

And finally, relaxation is not just about what you do, but also your surroundings. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors in nature come with countless health benefits, including stress reduction. Plus, recent research conducted in Wellington has also found that people who live within view of the ocean have greater mental wellbeing than those who don’t – just in case you needed another good reason to head to the beach.

Taking a break from the screen

Lastly, have you ever considered a ‘digital detox’? Unplugging from the screen every now and again can be extremely therapeutic. But beware – disconnecting on holiday can come with emotional challenges of its own.

According to an interview-based study conducted in 2019, not all travellers who went on a digital-free journey found it easy, with feeling of anxiety, worry, and frustration starting even a few days before the trip, with the anticipation of disconnecting. However, after those initial emotions, many started to enjoy the experience, feeling more engaged and immersed in the destination. Is that something you may consider?

Bringing you peace of mind

We’re not experts in relaxation techniques, but our SHARE advisers know a thing or two about financial wellbeing. If you have any questions about your insurance, mortgage, KiwiSaver or investments, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.