Stress is a fact of life, and unfortunately for many people, it’s only getting worse at work. Three-fourths of employees report feeling that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed that as many as one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress.
All of this stress affects both physical and mental health, resulting in symptoms like fatigue, upset stomach, muscle tension, irritability or anger and nervousness. The good news is that by leaving the daily grind behind and getting outdoors to breathe some fresh air and maybe even enjoying a few heart-pounding thrills, you can shrink those stress levels, and come back ready to face whatever life throws at you.
Whitewater rafting is an exhilarating sport that is sure to make you forget about your everyday worries. Thrilling activities like this can help you to reconnect with nature, de-stress and enjoy the best life has to offer. There is even a whitewater rafting therapy program for veterans with PTSD out of Missoula, Montana called X Sports 4 Vets.
Even if you’re brand new to this extreme sport, you’ll find plenty of trips that cater to beginners such as Arkansas Valley Adventures in Colorado. Everything you need to get out on the water is included like wet suits, life jackets and helmets. All you need to bring is some sun protection and a disposable waterproof camera.
ATV riding is another outdoor activity for beating stress. It offers the thrill of speed, the sense of adventure and the opportunity to get out and explore beautiful, natural surroundings. A U.S. Army program, Warrior Adventure Quest, even uses these four-wheel vehicles to help soldiers battle post-deployment stress.
There are lots of fun places to ride across the nation like Busco Beach & ATV Park in North Carolina. Here you drive through mud holes, dirt pits, drag strips, ponds and across a man-made beach. If you don’t have your own ATV or just want to try the sport before making the investment, places like The Lost Trails ATV Adventures in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, offer guided rental tours over a variety of rugged trails that include mud runs, creek crossings and more.
No matter which type of ride you choose, you will need appropriate riding gear so you might want to check out an ATV store for important items like a helmet, gloves, boots and spare parts.
Mountain biking is sure to reduce stress. The repetitive action of pedaling works similar to meditating or using a mantra in that it helps the brain relax, release outside stress and block out worries.
You can head out on your own or join a group tour to see if it’s something that you’d like to pursue further. Western Spirit Cycling Adventures offers trips in some of the most spectacularly scenic places across the country such as the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado and the Grand Canyon. You can bring your own bike or rent one with a wide range of sizes and types available. Helmets are included, but it’s best to bring your own to ensure a good fit.