Here’s How You Can De-Stress in the Hudson Valley Right Now

From good morning to goodnight, these local tips will help you keep calm and centered amid life and holiday-related stresses.

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Feeling stressed about the holiday season? For all the joys of early winter, including the start of a new year, there are also a ton of stressors. From the pressure of gift shopping to adhering to resolutions all at once, there is plenty to balance. Now, more than ever, it is important to keep our stress levels low and maintain healthy, positive mindsets.

With well-being in mind, we touched base with Mount Tremper’s Emerson Resort & Spa spa director Christina Burns for 10 wellness tips to stay healthy and positive now and in the new year. Burns notes that, during this time of year, many forget to take a moment for themselves to practice self-care. Try one, or a combination, of these steps to de-stress along with our suggestions of how you can accomplish them right here in the Valley.

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Photo courtesy of Emerson Resort & Spa

1. Meditate daily for five minutes 

Burns: “Whether it is at the start or end of your day, take five minutes a day to meditate, reflect, and breathe.” She suggests trying a meditation app as a reminder to take a moment to just breathe and help jump-start a daily routine.

Our Suggestion: If you’re having a difficult time channeling calm, head to a meditation class or local retreat. There are a plethora of options in the Hudson Valley to help de-stress. Invest one weekend at a monastery cloistered with like-minded serenity seekers or just take an early morning class to learn the art of living in the moment. Then, handle snow days with ease. Plus, if you want to spread the wellness, you could gift a de-stressing meditation class to another busy bee.


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2. Sit less and move more

Burns: “Especially for office workers and those who are working from home, it’s important to avoid being sedentary for the entire day and keep it moving. Take regular water breaks, stand up while at the computer, and, if you have one, listen to your smart watch that tracks your activity and gives those friendly reminders to get moving.”

Our Suggestion: Find great motivators for getting active. For instance, you could gift yourself a fitness tracker for the new year or enjoy a festive snack while taking a winter walk. If you are not one to venture into the cold without a destination, try at-home workouts that are easy to fit into any jam-packed schedule.

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3. Practice mindful eating

Burns: “Oftentimes when we’re stressed, it’s easy to consume whatever snack or leftovers are available at home or the office. Instead, be mindful of what you’re putting into your body, incorporating healthy and wholesome ingredients, taking time to slow down while eating, and paying attention to when you are full. At Emerson Spa, we offer our Spa Bites menu and often feature açai bowls with açai berries since they are very high in antioxidants, strengthen the immune system, and can also help to reduce lipoprotein (also known as “bad” cholesterol).”

Our Suggestion: One of the most common new year’s resolutions? Eating healthier. Altering eating habits is notoriously difficult, but becoming mindful of the fuel you are consuming is a step in the right direction. Baked goodies are a part of enjoying the winter season. This year, emphasize baking with local ingredients and cleaner substitutes. The more nutrition you can get during the cold winter months, the better. Of course, signing up for a winter CSA can also help pack in the fruits and veggies.

4. Find 30 minutes a day for a brisk walk

Burns: “The recommended 30-minute exercise per day doesn’t necessarily have to be a speedy 5K sprint or the latest trend in a specialized gym class. Instead, a brisk 30-minute walk can also suffice – before or after work or during a lunch break. Otherwise, implement a realistic goal of a regular exercise three-plus times a week that you’ll actually do.”

Our Suggestion: For a fail-safe way to get your heart rate up, a simple walk around your neighborhood is always an easy step to embrace wellness around the holidays. Walk without listening to music or making phone calls in order to focus on connecting with nature. All the while, you’re taking in the brisk winter air and searching for the next great sledding hill. If you need a break from the silence, take the time to listen to an audio book, some relaxing jams, or a guided meditation app.

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5. Pick up a new audiobook or podcast

Burns: “During this regular 30-minute brisk daily walk, keep your mind stimulated and pick up a new audiobook or subscribe to a podcast. Taking a break from work and tuning into a completely different topic can stimulate creativity while keeping you informed.”

Our Suggestion: If you’re not craving a quiet walk, staying home with a new podcast or audiobook can be quite relaxing and de-stressing. Local foodies and home chefs can listen to podcast episodes featuring fantastic recipes. You can visit a world not far from the Hudson Valley by listening to a local podcaster as well.

6. Engage in your community

Burns: “If you’re looking for new ways to engage in your local community, find an organization that aligns with your beliefs and goals for volunteering opportunities. This can be focused on restaurants/food community, environmental, supporting small businesses, and much more. Even participating once a month can be extremely rewarding and allow opportunities to make new connections with others.”

Our Suggestion: Give someone who is having a rough time a reason to smile this winter. Volunteering can be a fulfilling way to give back. Even small actions can lead to great change in communities. Whichever issue you wish to tackle first, the Hudson Valley is overflowing with opportunities to get involved that will make you feel good and help to de-stress.

7. Take time for self-care

Burns: “At Emerson Spa, we take health and wellness as a top priority and focus on spa therapies inspired by the earth’s elements and the tranquility of the Catskills. At home, take 15 minutes for a simple meditation moment and add some calming tranquility oil as part of the process.”

Our Suggestion: Take a moment to focus on yourself. Use any wellness tip as an excuse to reconnect with your inner peace. Finding an intention for the day can be very constructive, and increased awareness of self can also help you to fully embrace the joys of the season. Try adding an essential oil into your meditation routine to improve the ambiance and de-stress. In need of an extended period of self-care? Plan a solo spa day at Emerson and then take explorations across the Hudson Valley.

8.  Incorporate daily five-minute stretch and strengthening exercises

Burns: “When you’re unwinding from the day (and about to turn on streaming services of the latest hit show), you can also do an easy five- or 10-minute stretch and strengthening exercises on the couch and floor, whether it’s via a foam roller, getting into child pose, or a grounding yoga stretch to heal your body.”

Our Suggestion: The start of winter can certainly put strain on the body. From spending hours on a ladder putting up lights to shoveling away the first heavy snowstorm, your muscles may begin complaining about the irregular movement. Taking five minutes to connect with your body and stretch could make all the difference in the new year. Looking for somewhere dedicated to practice? Try a few poses at the Hudson Valley’s yoga studios. Increased strength and flexibility will better prepare you to hit the slopes or take on the big hills on a sled.

9. Have daily dedicated no-screen time

Burns: “We are usually always plugged in. However, it’s important to unplug for our own mental health and avoid that blue light. Even if it’s for 30 minutes or an hour before bedtime, make a point to put away the screen. It’ll be there for you in the morning.”

Our Suggestion: Take the time before bed to unwind, de-stress, and practice meditation skills and breathing exercises. Reflect on the day without distractions. You could begin keeping a journal to track your stressors. If you need noise to fall asleep, try ambient sound.

10. Reconnect with nature

Burns: “While being in the Catskill Mountains and having some of nature’s most gorgeous resources available in our background is a privilege, we can all get outside and reconnect with nature – even those living in urban destinations through local parks or communal green spaces. Take advantage of the sunlight during the daytime, especially during the winter, and get some vitamin D.”

Our Suggestion: Breathtaking views are never too far from home in the Hudson Valley. Take a hike on one of countless scenic trails against the backdrop of snowy landscapes. Spend time planning to reconnect with nature and de-stress through a self-care retreat in a Hudson Valley forest. Time outdoors can serve as a group bonding experience as well. Nothing will make you appreciate quiet time with your family like a stunning kid-friendly hike in the Catskills. You can even take a family vacation in the mountains while trying snow tubing or skiing.

Related: Haven Spa Offers Care and Relaxation in Rhinebeck

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