The habitual art of unwinding is fast becoming a lost skill. Modern people these days just don’t know how to switch off, let alone what they can do to switch off.
This is probably largely due to the chaotic and hectic lifestyle most of us lead these days, one which is filled with ridiculous deadlines, long working hours and commutes to and from work, increasing financial pressure and rising pollution, just to name a few.
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This type of lifestyle is unhealthy and unsustainable.
The concept of multi-tasking and the doing and having-it-all belief system has been culturally popularised. Consequently, we have ended up with a population with soaring stress levels and chronic disease.
Stop and unwind
The good news is that there are many different ways to unwind and relax, noting that the art of unwinding is interlinked with the art of managing stress.
So here are my top ten ways to unwind from a busy lifestyle.
1. Exercise your stress away
Exercise helps to condition your body to stress less by making you more resilient to it.
It also increases the ‘feel good’ endorphins which can give you that runner’s high, and that ‘meditation in motion’ feeling that is positively relaxing.
Although exercise such as running is vigorous, the lasting effects are calming and can also help improve sleep quality.
2. Try Yoga
For a more calming alternative, try daily meditative Yoga.
It is commonly prescribed to patients by psychologists for its calming effects on the brain and ability to lower anxiety, depression and stress.
In fact, did you know that Harvard Medical School carried out a 5-year study that proved yoga can actually lower stress (the hormone cortisol) whilst also reducing ageing on a cellular level? In short, learning to chill out more keeps us biologically younger!
3. Mindfulness therapy
Try mindfulness therapy for twenty minutes a day.
These exercises incorporate meditation and slow breathing exercises and focuses on training the mind to be in the present moment, without feeling the need to change. These exercises can help people to become a calmer and more accepting person.
Scientifically it has been shown to lower stress, but in order to experience this benefit you do need to stick with it for at least a couple of weeks to really enjoy the benefits.
Forget about the daily stresses and strains of life with music – it just makes us forget and feel happy. Music can be uplifting, euphoric, calming or relaxing.
Play the right tune and it can motivate you to work harder and enhance your gym workout session.
Some studies have also shown that musical therapy can be a powerful aid in the treatment of depression.
5. The Vitamin G in Green space (VG)
Try to get a little Vitamin G daily, also known as ‘Green’ space.
Exposure to greenery, natural light and fresh air not only helps us to unwind and ground us, but it also makes us happier, more positive and live longer!
It can lower stress, improve mental and physical well-being, and make use more sociable, feel safer and more secure.
Massage therapy is extremely therapeutic. It can help to alleviate muscle tension and soreness, lower stress, promote relaxation and general well-being.
Treating yourself to a massage every now and then is a great way to finish off a working week.
If you’re on a budget then why not ask your partner or spouse to give you a foot rub? Add in a few drops of your favourite essential oil, and you have the makings of homemade treatment.
7. Stay social
Unwind with friends, as being part of your social ‘tribe’ is essential for good health, happiness and longevity.
The blue zone diet looked at the Okinawan and 7th day Adventist communities around the world, found that these people who grew to ripe old age were also some of the happiest on the planet and who still had great health beyond 100 years of age.
This was attributed to their diet, active lifestyle, natural environment and in particular, because of the presence of strong social ties and a close-knit community.
8. Have a laugh
There’s nothing quite like a belly-busting laugh to help you unwind and totally forget (whatever it is you want to forget about: work, an argument, or your next visit to the in-laws) with comedy or a funny DVD.
Although science is yet to unravel the mysteries of why we laugh at all, one thing is certain – laughter is safe, it is fun, it keeps us on the positive track and focuses our energy on happy thoughts and feelings.
9. Tulsi Tea
Drink a cup of Tulsi in the evening. It is an Ayurvedic Indian herb, also known as Holy Basil. And as a traditional herb and medicinal plant, it has been used since the 20th century for its many therapeutic benefits on health.
It is also an adaptogen that helps the body to adapt and cope with stress better, therefore acquiring its reputation as a calming tea – even more so, in my opinion, than chamomile.
10. Epsom salt baths
There is no better way to finish off the day than with an evening Epsom Salt bath, rich in the relaxing mineral magnesium.
Good absorption through the skin means that it can also reach the muscles to help ease tension, enhancing the overall relaxing experience.
Add a little luxury to your baths by mixing in a few drops of lavender. Perfect.
For a list of scientific references or to ask any questions, connect with Expert Shevonne Norman.