Friday, 11 October 2013

[HM:256823] Top 10 ways to relax

Tips to help you de-stress and unwind

With many of us trying desperately to perfect the balance of work, family

and social lives, it can seem as though there is little time to relax.

However, taking time to de-stress and relax your body and mind is

integral to maintaining optimal health. Fortunately, there are many

ways to make relaxation a part of your everyday life.

Here are the top 10 ways to relax.

Get active

If you are feeling stressed out, one of the

best things you can do is go for a run or hit the gym. Although you may feel more inclined to

veg out in front of the TV to relax, exercise is great for releasing

mood-boosting chemicals

and anandamine, which can help to lower

and increase mental wellbeing.

As well as having a great effect on your mood and stress levels,

exercise is also good for taking your mind off problems and helping to

induce sleep.

Practise deep breathing

If you are short on time, one of the quickest

ways to relax is to take a few deep breaths.

Anxiety can cause people to breathe more rapidly than normal and taking

deep, slow breaths can be an effective aid to relaxation. If you are

frequently feeling anxious or stressed, it can be helpful to implement

deep breathing in to your regular routine by practising

breathing exercises regularly
or joining a yoga,

or meditation class; all of which

use deep breathing to promote relaxation and wellbeing.

Listen to music

Many of us are aware that listening to our

favourite music puts us in a good mood, and studies have now found that music is also

good for reducing stress.

Various studies have indicated a strong link between music and lowered

stress levels in everyday life, while research has also indicated that

music can lower extreme levels of stress in people undergoing surgery,

critically ill patients
and pregnant women.

Rather than seeking out "relaxing" genres of music, it is best to go

with your individual taste and choose whatever type

of music boosts your mood.

Stock up on chocolate

Good news for many is that chocolate - one of

the world's most popular comfort foods - is also a great calming food.

Chocolate is high in magnesium - which can help

relaxation - and also contains anandamine, a

neurotransmitter which can help you to experience a feeling of peace.

With high levels of phenylethylamine, chocolate also

raises endorphin levels, so all the more reason to

unwind with your favourite chocolate treat.

Have a hug

Having a hug is a renowned mood booster, and

research findings published in Psychomatic Medicine have reinforced what we

knew all along - that having a good old cuddle is great for

reducing stress.
Having physical contact has been found to

raise levels of oxytocin - the "love hormone"

- and lower levels of stress hormone cortisol, putting us in a more

relaxed frame of mind. Human affection is not the only type that

counts, however, as owning a pet has also been linked

to lowered stress levels, meaning that playing with your pet could be a

great way to wind down after work.

Pamper yourself

One of the best - and most luxurious - ways to

unwind is to treat yourself to a spot of pampering. If your budget extends to it, you

could have somebody else pamper you by heading to a health spa

or beauty salon for a massage, facial

or beauty treatment of your choice. Alternatively,

you could indulge in a bit of DIY pampering by

running yourself a bath, lighting some candles and lying back with a

relaxing facemask and some calming music.

Have a laugh

Laughter is well-known for its therapeutic

effects, and many places now offer laughter therapy or laughter yoga

to those seeking to boost their health and mood.

Studies have in fact found that even the anticipation of

laughter can help us to relax

by lifting our spirits and reducing stress levels in the body. If you

are serious about your relaxation, you could consider attending a laughter

, but chilling out with a funny DVD, book or friend is an

equally great option to help you relax.

Try aromatherapy

To really make the most of your senses, turn

your home into a relaxing sanctuary with a scented candle or some relaxing essential

. Some good essential oils for relaxation include camomile,

lavender, neroli, bergamot
and ylang ylang.

Use these oils to aid relaxation by adding a couple of drops to a bath,

burning in an oil burner, or adding (sparingly) to water to use as a

room spray or skin spritzer.

Get in the moment

There are various things you can do to help

you relax. However, if you are not fully present in the moment, it is

unlikely you will fully benefit from any relaxation technique. If you

find it difficult to switch off from your stressespast

regrets or future worries,

try making a list of anything that needs to be done

or thought about at a later date, set a time and date to deal

with each item, then switch off your mind, cast your cares

aside, and focus for now on simply enjoying the moment.

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