By Charlotte Cesana
San Francisco is all about working hard and playing hard. Sometimes we forget to find time to just unwind and de-stress. We believe strong mental health comes not only from therapy but also from small changes to your everyday life. Taking a break from normal routines can help clear thoughts, open us to new perspectives, and recharge us for the work ahead.
So this coming weekend, we encourage you to spend an afternoon somewhere new doing something new. Here are some of our favorites spots to unwind in San Francisco:
Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park
There are so many beautiful nature spots in San Francisco, but we especially love the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park because it feels like an urban oasis far from the hustle of the startup world. From little dunes and whimsical bridges to the beautiful koi fish in the ponds, we hope you’ll be as enchanted as we were. And it'll be hard not to feel recharged after a meditative stroll through the lush greenery. Not to be missed: the delicious tea and sweets at the outdoor café that'll make you feel like you’re in Sapporo not San Francisco. (http://japaneseteagardensf.com)
Yoga has grown quite popular in recent years for its many benefits to the mind and body. There’s something uniquely special about doing it at Yoga Tree, a San Francisco staple. We suggest a vinyasa yoga class that promotes flexibility and strength through sequenced flow poses or a yin yoga class that improves circulation in the joints while cultivating inner silence. We took an amazing class focused on backbends with Pete Guinosso that encouraged us to open our hearts. With numerous locations from the Castro to the Mission, it’s likely you have a neighborhood Yoga Tree close by. Yoga Tree also offers unique retreats & workshops that incorporate other styles of meditation, such as sound healing – highly recommended! (http://www.yogatreesf.com)
Dance Mission Theater
Physical activity is sometimes the best way for us to out of our heads and feel present. What better way than through dance, which has numerous fitness, mental health, and social benefits. We got our blood pumping at Dance Mission Theater with a live drumming Haitian dance class. Release your stress, support the multicultural local arts, and make new friends by taking one of their unique classes. If you’re a bit nervous about participating in a class on your first visit, the Theater offers a number of unique performances that’ll inspire creativity and leave you energized. (http://www.dancemission.com)
Kabuki offers an exotic spa experience reminiscent of a Japanese onsen. The Japanese believe that hot springs have the power to heal aches, pains, and diseases and treat illnesses such as arthralgia, chronic skin diseases, diabetes, and others. Book the Javanese Lulur treatment. We tried it and came out smelling like jasmine blossoms. Kabuki is very popular for couples and singles alike -- just make sure you pick the right day, as some days are gender specific (women: Sundays, Wednesday, Fridays; men: Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays; mixed: Tuesday). (http://kabukisprings.com)
Vitamin D is known to promote calcium and phosphorus absorption, help maintain healthy bones and teeth, and protect against multiple diseases such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. We suggest spending a bit of time in one of the best spots in the city for sun: Dolores Park. While this isn’t the most relaxing environment per se, the sun and people-watching aren’t to be missed. You might even come across some other mind-altering substances to help you relax. The best part? It’s free. Just don't forget to bring your sunblock! (http://sfrecpark.org/destination/mission-dolores-park/)
Do you have interesting stories at the above spots? Are there other places you’d recommend? Comment below to let us know. We’re always looking for more suggestions.
Charlotte Cesana holds a masters in clinical psychology from Columbia University. She is passionate about preventive mental health. Charlotte has interned with the United Nations on issues relating to human rights & psychology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helpful tips for managing stress, incorporating mindfulness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle