Finally vacation time! However, the hoped-for recovery sometimes does not materialize between the climate crisis and the Ukraine war. Instead, we lose ourselves in worry. Eight tips to switch off anyway.

Ukraine war, climate crisis and corona pandemic: we can now handle the crisis – inevitably. As the amount of bad news increases, it becomes harder and harder to really switch off. Even on a long-awaited vacation, there can hardly be any talk of relaxation, even on the most beautiful beach or in an idyllic mountain hut. What remains is often tiredness and stress. The most recent stress study by Techniker Krankenkasse shows that the pandemic was a real stress accelerator for many people. According to this, 47 percent of those surveyed stated that they had felt stressed more often since the beginning of the Corona crisis. And according to the current DKV report “How healthy is Germany?” only 40 percent of Germans manage to compensate for this stress.

It’s almost like we’ve forgotten how real recovery works. If you’re exhausted, you might relax in front of the TV for an evening or just don’t want to do anything. Just lying around and literally letting your soul dangle – that usually doesn’t recover as much as we hoped. Especially in times of crisis like these, it is extremely difficult to really switch off mentally. And as soon as a stupid thought comes to mind while we’re lounging, recovery is a long way off again. Recovery means that we recharge our batteries and draw new energy. And that can work even in difficult times. Our nine tips for a relaxing summer in times of crisis.

Concentrate on the here and now

Mindfulness has been booming for years. It’s about worrying less about the past and the future and instead focusing on the present moment. Instead of worrying about the impending autumn wave, it is worth focusing on the current situation. Because that’s what we really have in our hands. If you don’t succeed right away, you can use tools such as guided meditation or yoga. But sometimes it is enough to just consciously concentrate on the breath for a few minutes. Incidentally, mindfulness not only has a positive effect on our reserves of strength, but also on our health. The mindfulness training MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) by molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, for example, can even reduce the perception of pain, as several studies have shown. In addition, mindfulness exercises are said to have a positive effect on depression and stress, provided they are practiced regularly.

Take a long smartphone break

To avoid stress, we need to eliminate sources of stress. And – let’s be honest – the smartphone is not exactly a guarantee of relaxation. Shitstorms on social media, a flood of negative news and the feeling of having to be constantly available in order not to miss anything; We carry all of this around with us every day in the form of a smart phone. Not that smart, is it? At least when relaxation is the goal. That’s why digital detox is part of refueling nowadays. Of course, that doesn’t mean that mobile phones will be banned for weeks. Rather, it’s about taking targeted smartphone breaks – to breathe deeply. If we don’t succeed in doing this, in the worst case we will be permanently under pressure. That can even lead to digital burnout, says Alexander Markowert, computer science professor at the University of Bonn, in a lecture. But: “The long-term consequences of technical development and our vehement use can currently only be guessed at.”

Spend as much time with friends as possible

Friends are beautiful. They are always there for you, bring joy to life and even help reduce our stress levels. So how about spending the holiday with good friends? According to a Canadian study, face-to-face meetings with people we care about increase our well-being. This is mainly due to the fact that you get emotional support and (in the best case) you can give yourself as you are. This in turn lowers the stress hormone cortisol, as the Freiburg psychology professor Markus Heinrichs was able to prove in a study.

Include nerve food in your diet

Love goes through the stomach, you know it. But relaxation can do that too. If you want to recharge your batteries by eating with relish, you should include the following foods in your diet:

Bananas, because the fruit is a real magnesium guarantor. Magnesium ensures that our nervous system is balanced. If this is not the case, we are nervous and stressed.

Legumes, because there is a lot of magnesium involved here too. In addition, the calcium it contains has a positive effect on mental stability.

Cocoa, because the dark gold can lower our blood pressure and inhibit the release of the stress hormone cortisol. The rule is, the darker, the better – because the protein building block tryptophan is mainly contained in dark chocolate and balances stress. So somehow chocolate makes you happy.

Lemons because they provide a large dose of vitamin C and tons of antioxidants. And the combination ensures that the body can deal better with stress.

Oat flakes, because with the combination of iron, magnesium and B vitamins they provide the optimal basis for a stress-free day.

Reestablish the afternoon nap

Hated as a child, as adults many dream of the good old days: the nap is a matter of taste. But according to sleep researchers, it often gives us the rest we need. They sometimes assume that the human organism needs not just one, but two sleep phases within 24 hours. If you take a little “power nap”, you can really recharge your batteries. A study by American researchers was able to show that a nap of at least 45 minutes lowers blood pressure and relieves the cardiovascular system. However, you should not press the snooze button, because it has the opposite effect on our recovery.

Take a detour into the green

“Nature is the best pharmacy,” said Sebastian Kneipp once. And he was right. In the meantime, numerous studies have shown that a walk in nature can work wonders – almost. Environmental scientists from the University of Michigan found, for example, that just 20 to 30 minutes outdoors can significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body. When on holiday, it is therefore worth spending more time outside and exploring the area away from the beaches. After all, the forest is good for us. A study by the University of Parma was able to show that spending time in the forest has many positive effects on the body. Accordingly, we reduce stress, strengthen our immune system and reduce the symptoms of depression. And we also recharge our batteries at the same time.

Source: University of Michigan / Study

DKV report “How healthy is Germany?”

Stress study by Techniker Krankenkasse “Relax, Germany!”

University of Fribourg, study