By Nicola Lashley
There’s no denying, we’ve all experienced the effects of stress and tension (please share your secrets below if you have no idea what I’m talking about). The impact of stress can be just as detrimental to our mental health as it is to our physical. A study conducted last year showed that 526,000 people admitted to suffering from work-related stress or anxiety, with an estimated 12.5 million working days being lost as a direct result. More importantly, stress can affect numerous aspects of our lives causing insomnia, high blood pressure and a decreased libido.
For many, battling stress and tension has become a part of our everyday lives but, learning to manage it might just be easier than you think. These relaxation techniques are accessible and easy to apply to your everyday routine. So, whether you’re battling stress in the workplace or trying to manage a muddled mind, here are five simple ways to help relax your mind and body today.
Treat your muscles
Nothing quite beats the feeling of a good massage. It targets and reduces muscle tension, relieving pressure and recharging our bodies. Massage has been scientifically proven to reduce production of the stress-hormone ‘Cortisol’. In fact, it kickstarts a healthy influx of Serotonin – often referred to as the ‘happy hormone’. Serotonin is essential to our bodies emotional balance, regulating anxiety and even decreasing depression.
What else can massage do for you? A massage will undoubtedly reduce the impact of stress. Make it a regular thing and you’ll also notice:
– Improved circulation and blood flow
– Reduced blood pressure
– A restorative night’s sleep
– Strengthened immune system
– Support for injury rehabilitation
Keeping a massager at home or at work makes for cost-effective and convenient relief on the go. If you’re looking to introduce a massager into your weekly routine, take a look at the HoMedics massage range. As the leading innovator in massage products, these portable muscle relaxers provide you with ultimate relaxation wherever and whenever you choose.
Take a break
When faced with looming deadlines, an excessive workload or a bout of anxiety, it may seem like you’re simply too busy to take a break. But, you have to – pushing the body beyond its limits can wreak havoc with stress levels. Taking a break is essential to maintaining focus. It’s crucial to maintaining a steady mind. Even when you don’t feel like you need one, make sure you’re letting your body rejuvenate via regular intervals from work.
Here are some ideas to help you re-engage your focus and creativity, at home or in the workplace:
• Mindfulness and acceptance
They’re a staple and they work. When practising mindfulness, we have the chance to completely step back from the pressure and overactivity of our minds. The best part is that you can practice mindfulness any time, any place and anywhere. Acceptance goes hand in hand with mindfulness. Acknowledging our limits and accepting them is a great place to start. New to mindfulness? Check out our blog post on everyday mindfulness here!
• Go for a walk
Taking time out is great, removing yourself from a work environment is even better.
Next time you’re on a break, go for a walk, tuning into the breath as you do – you’ll feel all the better for it.
• Listen to music
The soothing power of music is well-established, it can lift our moods and prompt our bodies to release our good friend Serotonin. Relaxing music is the perfect accompaniment to your daily commute or when you feel anxiety creeping in. Whether it’s the mellow tones of African pipes or an acoustic session of your favourite artist, popping in those earphones is a great control method when you feel tensions rising.
Bring your relaxation game to work
Studies show that 44% of the UK’s stress is due to excessive workloads, that accounts for almost half of the population’s stress! But what about physical tension, how do we go about relieving it?
Sitting down all day can be extremely damning to our physical health, it compresses our organs, strains the neck and promotes poor posture. Thankfully, relieving physical tension doesn’t have to mean an on-desk yoga practice (but, by all means – be our guest). Here’s a few subtler ideas:
• Make sure you’re stretching the body throughout the day, even while seated. Check out this blog post for all you need to know about embarrassment-free and effective desk stretches that you can practice every day.
• On the phone? Stand up! Make it a habit to stand every time that you’re talking on the phone, better yet, take a stroll. This simple practice gives the body a chance to realign, boosting circulation as you go.
• Bad posture? Give your body the chance to work efficiently by sitting tall, dropping the shoulders and keeping the knees at a ninety-degree angle. This allows the bodies energy flow to work as efficiently possible when seated and reduces back strain.
It’s the little things
They may seem insignificant but, don’t underestimate the power of life’s simple pleasures.
These relaxation techniques are wonderfully straightforward:
Mindful breathing allows us to take and maintain control of our body and mind – a priceless weapon for battling stress or an overactive mind. It’s been proven that while practising mindfulness we can reduce the unnecessary activity of the Amygdala – the section of our brain responsible for fear, anxiety and doubt.
Drawing on the power of nature’s essential oils, aromatherapy can help to reduce anxiety and boost cognitive function. For some sweet smelling inspiration, take a look at the Ellia 100% pure aromatherapy range.
• Reacquaint yourself with nature
Escape the buzz and enjoy the quiet, restorative powers of being one with nature. Take a stroll, sit in the park, just spend a moment grounding yourself on the grass.
• Take a long, warm bubble bath
Not only do they soothe and reduce muscle tension, baths have even been proven to aid headaches and reduce anxiety.
Guided or independent, meditation develops on the practice of mindfulness, allowing us to understand ourselves on the deepest level. This allows us to observe our problems from an alternative perspective, meaning we feel more capable and accepting of letting go.
Get to know your stress pattern
And finally, the best cure is Prevention. While we can’t always prepare for it, a lot can be said for coming to understand why we feel tense, stressed or anxious.
Everyone is different and so are our limits. The next time you feel stress or tension on the horizon, take a moment to write down what’s triggering it. By doing this over time, you’re likely to see a pattern. This makes managing and preventing stress or anxiety much more successful.
Be kind to yourself, this is a journey. The next time you feel tensions beginning to rise, take a moment to plan and prioritise, talk and connect with those around you, and always remember, you are enough.
Nicola is an English Literature student based in Kent. Natural health and wellness have been at the centre of her growth since her brother introduced her to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) 4 years ago. Nicola practices yoga and meditation, with her main interest being in Tai Chi – particularly the practice of Qi Gong. As her journey continues, finding every opportunity to combine her learnings into everyday life.