It’s sometimes hard to find time to relax in our high-octane lifestyle. Meetings, appointments, to-do tasks and work and family duties all combine to rob us of the time we need to slow down a little during the day. Science has shown that is it important to find time to wind down, to recharge the batteries, to relax.
To paraphrase the famous Zen proverb: “You should try to relax for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
There are a number of ways to put you in 'relaxation mode'. While techniques will vary, they have one common objective; They occupy your mind elsewhere, concentrating it on one thing.
Here is a list of handy relaxation tools.
Allow yourself time. This is the first and most important step. Give yourself permission to ALLOW time for YOU. Before you begin, it is very important to tell yourself (out loud if you wish) "This is ME time, this is my time to relax"
Controlled Breathing. To start, inhale for a slow count of four and exhale for a slow count of four. (Through your nose is fine) Concentrate on each breath and the rise and fall of your chest. You can do this anywhere, anytime.
Herbal tea. Herbal teas have been used for nearly as long as written history extends. Our convenient modern versions still use ancient recepies for relaxation remedies, with ingredients such as peppermint, chamomile and valerian root, through to catnip and scullcap. Here is our favorite modern day version.
Epsom salts bath. A favourite de-stressing method, having a gentle, soaking hot bath in Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) will relax the muscles and inturn, relax your mind. Add some essential oils for a wonderful Aromatherapy experience.
Aromatherapy. The use of essential oils to help calm and relax is a technique dating back to ancient times. Many swear by the power of aromatherapy as it engages your sense of smell and subconsciously transports your mind. Essential oils can be added either in an oil burner or into your bath.
Omega-3. Our bodies need fatty acids to function properly. Omega-3 fatty acids (contained in oily fish, nuts and seeds) are crucial for our diet whether eaten from food or as a dietary supplement. However evidence also appears to point to Omega-3’s helping to reduce mild depression and reducing stress.
Rescue remedy. Herbal remedies have been used for centuries for a medicinal purposes, including stress relief. A convienient way to utalize these ancient remedies is with Rescue Remedy’s pastilles. Alcohol and sugar free, Bach Rescue Remedy’s natural flavour and herbs will dissolve in your mouth to give you that calm, relaxing feeling.
Cuddle someone! Possibly the nicest way to reduce stress and help us unwind. Cuddling for longer than 20 seconds is proven to release oxytocin, which is also known as the feel-good hormone. You can cuddle your partner, a friend, your children or even a pet!
Get yourself out. Going for a bike ride, a walk, a drive will all help you get away from the cares and stresses of your day and give you a new perspective. So grab a herbal tea or a coffee, walk to the shops, get some sun and experience the great Australian Outdoors!
Read a book. Nothing compares to grabbing a book and relaxing in your favourite chair at home, in the park or at a cafe and transporting your mind into the story. Visit your local library or book shop and wander up and down the aisles before selecting your book.
Melotonin dietary supplement. Used to treat stress problems and promote general health and well being, Melotonin is also used as an aid to help you sleep — the ultimate relaxation!
Listen to podcasts. Downloading podcasts to your phone or portable device is a practical way shift your focus while on the move. Learn about topics you like or listen to an audio book. Perhaps you can combine listening to podcasts with walking to the shops or catching the bus to work. Try iTunes, iBook (on your iPhone) or the ABC website.
Guided meditation. We’ve all heard of the benefits of meditation, however it's hard to know where to begin. Guided meditation is fantastic for beginners, as all you need to do is find a comfy place to sit or lay, pop in your headphones and just listen. There are a number of YouTube vidoes or iTunes podcasts that you can download for free - simply search "Guided Meditation". You will be an expert yogi in no time.
As you can see finding a relaxation technique that suits you is not so difficult. Take a little time to try one, two or all of the above methods to help you put the cares and troubles of the day aside and begin relaxing.
We’d also be interested in hearing from you and about your relaxation techniques. Please add your comments below.