Ever get to Friday and wonder how you survived the week? Taking time for yourself shouldn’t be left to an hour on a Sunday afternoon. Self-care needs to be part of your daily routine, for very good reasons!
Don’t believe us? Many studies have proven the importance of relaxation as part of our daily routines. The many benefits of relaxation range from improving mental health by relieving stress, calming the mind and reducing feelings of anxiousness; to benefitting physical health through stress relief by relaxing the muscles, increasing blood circulation and metabolism, reducing fatigue and improving your mood and concentration.
Relaxation isn’t all about yoga and meditation (although they both help!) and can be done in as little time as just 5 minutes here and there.
Here’s some of the best ways to relax, unwind and focus on you.
Sounds simple, but sometimes the simple things are the most effective. Heavy, rapid breathing can be associated with stress and anxiety, so taking the time to breathe deep and slow can help to relax the body and increase blood flow to vital muscles and organs. There are lots of apps available on your phone and even smart watch to help with breathing exercises, however the principles are easy:
Close your eyes and take a deep breath in for 4-6 seconds, and breathe out for the same amount of time. Continue this process, gradually taking deeper, longer breaths, until you feel more relaxed and notice your heart rate slow down.
Breathing is also an essential part of meditation, which is often used to calm and clear the mind.
2. Essential oils
A range of different scents have been noted for their calming and relaxing properties and can be directly applied to the skin, mixed in with creams and lotions, spritzed on fabrics and clothing, dropped in your bath water or added to diffusers to freshen the air.
Using certified organic essential oils will ensure there are no unwanted surprises in your oils, making them safe to use on your skin.
3. Me time
How often do you set aside time to focus on yourself and do something that makes you happy? The answer is probably not enough! Me-time means different things to different people, so taking some time for yourself might look different to your friends and family. Whether you enjoy reading, relaxing in the bath, watching a movie, baking or taking a walk, taking some time for yourself should be a part of your daily routine. If you want to use your me-time to relax, make sure it isn’t something that is too overstimulating on the body and mind to reap the full benefits.
4. Fresh air
Fresh air is something we take for granted all the time. Getting outside and breathing fresh air does wonders for your body and mind. Although not all of us have access to clean air all of the time, aim to spend time in clean, fresh air at least a few times a week. If you spend 5 days of the week in an office, try spending your lunch break outside, or use the weekends to enjoy time outdoors. We’re lucky to live in a country with some of the best weather and scenery in the world, so make the most of it (and of course, we always encourage you to be sun-smart!)
5. Reduce stimulants
How many coffees do you have each day? Coffee, and caffeine in particular, is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and can become addictive as your body becomes more reliant on it with time. By reducing your caffeine intake progressively over a few weeks and increasing your intake of water, you’ll notice your body will become less reliant on it as an energy source and you’ll feel more energized throughout the day.
This is the same for caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar and other stimulants that are often used to relax but can actually create the opposite, negative effect on the body. Teach your body to respond to stress in a different manner by using other relaxation techniques or simply drinking herbal teas or water instead. Your body will thank you for it.
6. Sleep well
Sleep is one of the most important things your body could ask for. When you sleep, your body uses the time to repair and regenerate whilst your mind processes the day’s events. A lack of sleep has been shown to lead to an array of health issues, from anxiety and stress, to fatigue and exhaustion, to gut related problems and muscle tension.
By setting a strict wind-down bed routine, you can help your body to become more relaxed before you go to bed and promote a better sleep. This includes turning off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed, not going to bed on a full stomach, and avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, sugar and caffeine in the hours leading up to bed time.
Make sure you set some time aside this week to help yourself to relax and unwind – a great way to begin focusing on yourself.