I am sure that am not the only person on this planet who has had problems with switching off, unwinding and letting go of stress. I have a tendency of over-exerting myself and putting too many things on my list of things to do. Despite having practised yoga for a few years, owning my own business means that I struggle to switch off thinking about the different ideas and what I have not completed or achieved to move onto the next stage. Over the past year, I have been using 7 tips below to help me unwind. I am sure you will find them useful too:
1. Meditation – technology can help!
I know meditation and technology sound contradictory, as meditation is about breathing, focusing on the present moment and not letting much distract us. Sometimes when I am very busy, I am not able to practise at my yoga studio as regularly as I wish I could. I therefore sometimes use two apps to help me unwind and de-stress, even if it is going from one place to another on the London Underground. The good news is that both of them are free!
The first one is called Balanced and I have preset 5 things which the app reminds me to do. It reminds me to go out into nature and enjoy a walk, do some stretching or yoga and pranayama. I find this very useful, as it reminds me to take a moment regularly each day to meditate. I always feel so much better after meditation.
The other one I use is called Universal Breathing – Pranayama. You can set the inhale and exhale frequency. When I am stressed and find myself not exhaling as long as I should, I sit still and use this app to help me regulate my breath again and unwind.
If you are very busy like me, perhaps you will agree that sometimes, it is just difficult to commit to 2-3 hours a day to attend a yoga class. I love the energy in yoga classes and teachers who will correct our alignments to improve our practise. In a class, we can practise a lot more safely however sometimes, you might just not have enough time to go to a class.
If you don’t have the time for a class, or if you are feeling run down with a cold or a cough, there is nothing stopping you from doing some gentle stretches at home. You can always spend a few minutes to clear an area of your home from any clutter (if you have any) where it is calm without distraction, turn off your phone ringer, sit on your yoga mat with legs crossed, back straight and start a gentle breathing exercise. If you want to do some gentle stretching, you can do some sun salutations. For me, breathing slowly and deeply through the child’s pose in a quiet environment is enough to help me unwind and de-stress. I feel so much more grounded when I am in child pose too.
3. Lavender Oil
I remember the first time someone bought me a bunch of dried lavender to put around my home. I fell in love with the essence and the calming energy it brought.
Since then, I have discovered the power of lavender oil. Sometimes, I put a tiny drop on my finger tips and tap the essence on my temples. If I have trouble sleeping, I also putt a few drops on my pillow case which help me relax when I am in bed. I also like putting a few drops into my warm bath with Epsom salt. After twenty minutes sitting in that bath, I definitely feel much more relaxed.
4. Watch Some Comedy
Sometimes, we can’t unwind and de-stress because we have the same things going round and round on our minds. By distracting it with some comedy, it helps us relax and switch off to focus our minds on just watching and listening without thinking about anything else. . My favourite comedians are Michael McIntyre and there are hundreds of YouTube videos with funny clips.
By the way, have you tried laughing yoga? It’s certainly a lot of fun.
5. Face Massage
One of my favourite ways to de-stress is to have a body massage. However, when I get stressed and unable to switch off, normally it’s too late to book a massage and I might not even have the time to go and have a massage.
A much cheaper alternative I sometimes use is to give myself a slow and gentle face massage. Of course, setting the mood is important. If you are at home, you can gentle wash your face with warm water, dim the lights, light some candles and find yourself a comfortable sitting or lying position. Then, relax, breathe and gentle use your fingertips to massage your face with circular motions around your eyes from the beginning of your eyebrows out towards your temples and then back round underneath your eyes. Repeat this and gently use circular motions to massage your face. It’s amazing how 10-15 minutes of a face massage relaxes me.
If you are at work, you can still do this if you are able to find a comfortable seat with no distractions for a few minutes.
6. Go into Nature
Whenever I go into nature, whether it is walking or sitting, I find myself much more relaxed. It brings me a level of contentment and peace. If you work in an office five days a week, try and go out for a walk nearby during lunch time to get some food, stretch your legs and perhaps go into a local park for a walk or eat your lunch.
If it is easy for you to get to natural bodies of water like a lake, the sea or even a waterfall, the positive ions created by the natural movement of water can really help you de-stress and calm your mind.
7. Let it Go
I’m not referring to the song, although singing and dancing can certainly help to alleviate stress. Sometimes, we just have to accept that there is only so much time each day and we can only do so much. There will always be more work and there will always be more chores. To live a happy and healthy life, we need to learn to manage a healthy level of stress, switch off and let go.
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Do you have any tips that you want to share? Please feel free to submit your comments below.