8 Ways to Relax, Destress and Restore!
20 October 2014
For families, the weekends are reserved for fun outings with the children, sports events, birthday parties, social events, painting the house, choosing new furniture, planning for the week ahead etc., none of which allow for the therapeutic calmness that so many of us need. We ignore our bodies because we believe we are invincible machines, able to solider on no matter how exhausted we may feel. The scary part is that overtime, this lack of proper relaxation catches up with us in the form of low immunity, toxin build-up, stress, disease, illness, and chronic fatigue.
Relaxation does not only constitute sleep – sleep is only one aspect of relaxing. Relaxation is that, “me
time” – a period of calmness, quiet and serenity, during which we can let go, breathe, quieten our minds, silence our thoughts and be at peace. At least 30 minutes of relaxation a day can do wonders to boost energy levels, improve mood, release tension, reduce stress and boost general health.
Forgotten how to Relax? Here are a few great ways to help you relax, de-stress and restore:
Meditation can be a great way to relax, especially during times of high pressure. Research has demonstrated that meditation assists in lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and even helps to improve cognitive performance. Meditation that focusses on the breath improves blood flow by circulating oxygen throughout the body, and cleansing stale air from the lungs.
Meditation is really simple to do: all you need to do is find a quiet, comfortable place , close your eyes, relax your muscles, and focus on one thing, whether this be your breathing, an object (a flower, or a painting)—or even a picture in your mind—perhaps you are sitting on a beach in the Maldives. As little as 10 minutes of meditation a day will enable you to feel more relaxed and at ease. Staying focused and not letting any distractions or thoughts enter your mind is key to successful meditation. Be mindful of the type of thoughts and distractions that do come along. Once you have completed your meditation, think about why those specific things keep coming up for you. These are usually indicative of those situations or experiences that are bothering you on a subconscious level. Work through these and clear out any emotional baggage you may be holding on to. If you have a bit more time on your hands, take a Yoga or Tai Chi class—both incorporate mediation, along with physical movements.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea is very soothing—it contains theanine, an amino acid that gives flavour to green tea and also promotes relaxation. It is thought that theanine is a caffeine antagonist, meaning it counteracts the stimulating effects of caffeine. So choose drink green tea over heavily caffeinated beverages - caffeine can worsen your body’s response to stress.
Eat Mood-Boosting Foods
Many of us crave indulgent carbohydrates such as chips, candy, cookies, candy, ice cream, and other sweet and starchy foods when we are tired, stressed, anxious, or tense. These foods provide a soothing effect by temporarily improving serotonin levels that are typically low during these mood states. Serotonin is a brain chemical responsible for feelings of calmness and relaxation. It is thought that consuming these carbohydrates helps boost serotonin levels, which results in feelings of contentedness and relaxation. However, these treats are never easy on the waistline, and can induce lethargy due to spikes in blood sugar levels. Rather than reaching for your favourite chocolate, choose cacao nibs, raisins and pecans as a go-to alternative, or sample out sweet potato crisps. There are many snack or dessert type alternatives that you can enjoy by switching refined ingredients form unprocessed wholefoods. Try blending frozen banana, coconut milk, vanilla extract and cacao powder as a healthy “ice-cream” option. Cacao is particularly effective in boosting seratonin.
Create a Relaxation Room
Many spas have relaxation rooms to sit in before and after treatments, and it's a great thing to create at home too. Creating a relaxation space is just as effective – this could be an area in your bedroom, for example, that is solely devoted to relaxing. You can have a really comfortable chair or daybed, with dim lights, or candles nearby— whatever it is that you enjoy and find relaxing. This will give you an opportunity to decompress, with very little stimulus—this is key. Forget the blackberry, cell phone and laptop—this is your time to kick back and relax. You might want to read a book or magazine, but the idea is to clear your mind of distractions and stressors.
Listen to Music
Listening to soothing music can be very relaxing—and slow tempos in particular can induce a calm state of mind. (It can also slow down breathing and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and relax tense muscles too). This can be particularly beneficial when you're getting ready for a tough day at work, or if you're in your car stuck in traffic, or, if you're lying in bed trying to free your mind of stressful thoughts.
Go forMassage Therapy
Going for a massage is a great way to free yourself of tension and relax. Adding aromatherapy oils such as chamomile or lavender can also be particularly beneficial for enhancing relaxation. If you don't have a lot of spare time, you can get aromatherapy oils and massage tools to use at home.
Have a Hot Bath
Heat relaxes muscles—and taking a long bath can be soothing for the mind as well. Stock up on your favourite bath salts and soaps, get a bath pillow, and decorate the room with candles. You can even create an in-home spa, by incorporating spa treatments like facials.
Exercise helps to boost endorphins and reduce stress—and research shows that 20 minutes each day is all that is needed to experience the vitality enhancing benefits that a good workout has to offer.
Relaxing is all about getting your mind off of the stresses of life. Whether it be your infinite to do list that you keep adding to, family demands, work deadlines or financial concerns, these stresses place great strain on you both physically and mentally. Relaxation is absolutely essential to counteract the negative impact of fast-paced modern day living. Practicing something daily that is calming and peaceful for you personally is vital for your overall health and wellbeing.
What is your favourite way to relax?
Yours in Health Always,