Relax… the benefits of de-stressing
Remember during lockdown when the pace of life slowed down? Furloughed summers in the garden, working your way through that pile of books by your bed or cooking with the family became de rigueur for months on end. Then, as the world opened up again, how many of us held on to those good habits? We’re guessing very few.
Sadly we live in a society that means we’re always rushing from one place to the next. Whether it’s the demands of the office or organising the family planner, we all lead such busy lives; so much so that finding some essential “me” time amongst the hustle and bustle inevitably ends up at the bottom of the to-do list.
Because our modern lifestyles are so jampacked, we struggle to make time to properly unwind at the end of each day. Added to that, many of us may not even know where to start.
HOW DOES RELAXATION HELP?
From rocketing bills to fears about the future, you won’t be surprised to hear that endless worrying can have a detrimental effect on our health. It’s funny, however much we tell ourselves we’re ok our body always reveals the truth.
We respond to stress by releasing the hormone cortisol. This is your natural “flight or fight” response and it’s a good thing – it’s kept humans alive for thousands of years, after all. But this stress response raises our heart rate and blood pressure as well as tensing our muscles; by finding even just a few minutes each day to de-stress can we turn those feelings of anxiety into calm, allowing us to focus on things more clearly.
SIMPLE IDEAS FOR RELAXING
First things first … if you’re forever surrounded by endless digital disruptions, it’s vital that you switch off by switching off your devices. Resist the temptation to respond to an email or scroll through your mate’s holiday posts on Facebook and instead put your phone in a different room. By reducing distractions you can focus on the moment and be more present. If you’re able to schedule specific down-time each day, you can let your family or friends know that the “do not disturb” is on.
And breathe … There are many different breathing techniques designed to help you relax so try a few out to see what works best for you. Our favourite is called controlled breathing – simply sit back in your favourite chair, inhale slowly through your nose and count to four before exhaling through the mouth for four and then repeat until you start to feel more chilled.
A good night’s sleep… it gives us the opportunity to rest and recuperate. While we’re in the land of nod our body starts to restore itself, boosting concentration, regulating mood, and sharpening judgment and decision-making.
You are what you eat… ditch the grazing and cravings and opt for balanced meals that fill you up. Constantly eating the wrong things throughout the day quickly leads to weight gain and feeling sluggish, which can leave you feeling even more stressed.
Get creative… drawing or painting engages the creative side of your brain, taking your mind away from your worries to focus on something else instead. Adult colouring books are a great option if you’re not the most artistic, while baking or jigsaws can work too.
Over-thinking… remember that no one else has the monopoly on your thoughts, only you, so focus on the good things and write a daily gratitude journal. In fact, recent research revealed jotting down our feelings and thoughts can improve physical and psychological wellbeing and keep your emotions in check.
Get outside… Mother Nature has a way of healing our soul, especially when the sun is shining. The great outdoors is a great antidote for stress, lowering blood pressure, enhancing immune system function and improving our mood. Enjoy a walk and a natter with friends, or lace up your trainers, grab your headphones and escape with a feel-good playlist.