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.
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
and anandamine, which can help to lower
anxiety 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
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,
Pilates 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.
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
classes 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
class, but chilling out with a funny DVD, book or friend is an
equally great option to help you relax.
To really make the most of your senses, turn
your home into a relaxing sanctuary with a scented candle or some relaxing essential
oils. 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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