Your inbox is full, the kids need dinner, your partner has the flu and your mom just called to ask if fish has gluten. Life is stressful. Finding time and ways to relax and recharge is increasingly important now that the world is recovering from Covid and restarting social activities. For most of us, that means once again trying to rebalance work and home.
Never fear–there is a method to stopping the madness. The Mayo Clinic has stated that if you develop a relaxation routine, you can glean many benefits, including:
- Slower heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved digestion
- Reduced activity of stress hormones
- Improved concentration and mood
- Improved sleep quality
- Fewer feelings of fatigue
Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to unwind.
Enjoy the bubbles. Not in a glass, but in the tub. While many of us don’t think we can spare the time for a good old-fashioned soak, research has shown that a 30-minute bath at 104° F (think hot tub temperature) improves depression. Warm baths are linked to decreasing stress hormones and a more balanced serotonin level, which regulates mood. Add some Epsom salts (a naturally occurring mineral product) or bubble bath and relax the day away.
Breathe in, breathe out. Search the internet for relaxation techniques and breathing exercises will top the list. The University of Michigan Health Library says that deep breathing sends a message to your brain to calm down. The brain then passes this message to your body and stress behaviors (increased heart rate, rapid breathing, high blood pressure) all start to decrease as you relax. Breathing exercises are easy to learn. Do a quick search and find some videos to help you!
Find your inner Zen. Meditation has a long history of use for increasing calm and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. If you’re unsure how to start, search “how to meditate.” You’ll find some great beginner videos and articles. Grab your yoga mat and find a comfortable place to sit. If the weather’s nice, go outside. You’ll simmer down in no time.
When you only have 5 minutes. Sometimes you don’t have time to practice one of your regular relaxation techniques. If you’ve only got a few minutes, there are still things you can do.
- Have a cup of green tea. L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, is known to help people relax.
- Hug yourself. Progressive relaxation – tensing and releasing muscles, body part by body part – can help you chill. If you don’t have time for your whole body, do your arms, shoulders, neck, and head.
- Massage your hands (or feet if you’re not in the office). Grab your favorite lotion and massage each joint and between your fingers. Clenching and releasing your fists will help relieve tension.
- Get outside for a quick shot of sunlight and a breath of fresh air.
If you take care of yourself, life’s crazy demands should be easier to handle!