Mindfulness and Stress-busting activities in South Devon

Stress Awareness Months runs every April to highlight the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. The last few years have been challenging so as normality is returning, it’s important to take some time to ourselves to recuperate and support those who may need additional help. Practicing mindfulness can help to relieve stress, it can allow you to be more focused and empower you to face your stresses head on. Although mindfulness is a type of meditation, it doesn’t have to involve sitting still or doing breathing exercises, it’s more about being present in a moment. This year the theme for Stress Awareness Month is community, therefore this blog post will talk you through a number of stress-relieving and mindfulness activities you can do in South Devon with your family or friends, but of course you can do them on your own too.  

Lose yourself in a forest 

Of course, we don’t literally mean ‘lose yourself,’ that could be quite stress inducing! However, spending time within the trees has been found to enhance your mood, improve your self-esteem, and lower blood pressure according to NHS Forest. Immersing yourself in woodland is an excellent way to take a break from the rush of everyday life. Fortunately, South Devon is home to several vast forests, including Haldon Forest, an expansive woodland located just 15 minutes from Exeter, Bellever Forest, situated in the heart of Dartmoor National Park and Stover Country Park, nestled on the outskirts of Newton Abbot. Many of the forests in Devon are ancient, surviving since the Medieval period, and are home to thousands of species of wildlife who, much like us, rely on these trees to live and thrive. You can read more about Woodlands in South Devon here. If this sounds like your kind of this, you could sign up to a session with Simply Soulful, who organise forest bathing in Dittishcombe Estate near Slapton. Click here for more information about these sessions. 

Learn something new or practice an old hobby 

Trying new things can be scary, but it not only helps us to diminish those fears, but it also allows us to expand our minds and learn. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to doing, or if something you loved doing in your childhood that you haven’t tried for a while, give it a go! Chances are, you’ll probably feel better for doing so; trying something new gives us the courage to tackle other fears and overcome certain stresses. Is there a watersport you’ve always wanted to try? Here in South Devon, there are plenty of independent businesses who would love to help. We have Sea Kayak Devon who offer guided kayaking trips around the beautiful Dartmouth coastline, or there’s SeaSports South West who can provide tuition in sailing or windsurfing. Perhaps you think paddle boarding would be something you’d enjoy? Exe Adventure are a mobile outdoor adventure centre who host sessions across South Devon. 

Take a dip! 

Swimming, like all exercise, releases endorphins in your brain which increases your happiness, positivity, and overall sense of wellbeing. Cold water swimming is an especially popular stress reliever and has been known to help with anxiety and depression. Being a particularly coastal county, there are plenty of gorgeous beaches around South Devon to choose from; click here to view them! However, if beaches aren’t really your thing, there are plenty of rivers and natural pools on Dartmoor for you to immerse yourself in, including Spitchwick, Cowsic Waterfall, and Sharrah Pool. Read our top 10 wild swimming spots here! 

Art-based mindfulness 

Crafting is a nonmedicinal way to stimulate dopamine (the happy chemical!). Art provides us with a feeling of freedom and seeing what you have created leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. If you enjoyed arts and crafts when you were a chid, art-based mindfulness activities may benefit you! If this sounds like your kind of thing, The Paint Hub are a paint-your-own ceramic studio, located at Welcome Family Holiday Park, in the seaside resort of Dawlish Warren. You can choose to paint an item from their collection which includes mugs, plates, and special decorative ornaments; plus, they have coffee shop if you fancy a cuppa or a bite to eat whilst you paint! 

Indulged in a day at the spa.  

Sometimes taking the opportunity to just sit back, relax and pamper yourself a little is a wonderful way to centre and ground yourself if you’re feeling particularly stressed. Practicing acts of self-care has been proven to reduce stress, minimize frustration and improve your happiness. South Devon has plenty of serene spas where you can put your feet up and focus on yourself; and they come in all sizes with various treatments and facilities depending on your preference.  If you’re in East Devon, two great options are the Hawkchurch Resort & Spa in Axminster or the Aspara Day Spa at Royal York & Faulkner Hotel in Sidmouth. In Teignbridge, you can choose from the Sirona Wellbeing & Spa in Chudleigh, or the Ilsington Country House Hotel & Spa in Bovey Tracey. These aren’t the only spas in South Devon you can choose from, you can view some other great ones that may be closer to you here.

In honour of stress awareness month this year, we hope you enjoy taking some time out to relax with your loved ones, and with yourself.  

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