You’re stressed, you’re anxious, and you simply can’t think about anything else except what’s troubling you. But what if I told you that things don’t necessarily have to be that way. Finding techniques to unwind and relax can feel like an uphill battle once we’re in that negative state, but discovering a path out of the dark is a lot easier than you might think. It’s all down to your will and really finding the time for yourself. After all, there are 24 hours in a day, so how about using a few for me time.
Here are the top 10 things that any of us can do to unwind.
Eat & drink the right things
When we’re stressed, it’s often tempting to head straight for comfort foods like pizza and chocolate ice cream, but there are better ways to help our bodies and minds chill out. These superfoods can assist with reducing tension, stabilizing blood sugar levels and lift moods.
Take a nice holiday
While suggesting a holiday does seem obvious to help reduce stress, it’s actually important to think about where you’re going. There are busy, hectic cities around the world that we could visit but actually don’t relax us at all, but there are also Zen places that can totally help us unwind. From the beaches of Portugal to the mountains of Italy and all the way to the islands of Thailand, make sure you pick a location that will actually help you relax.
A great night’s sleep
Even in 2017, there is still so much research going on in the way that sleep can help us unwind. According to Els van der Helm, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley, it’s actually our dreams that can help decrease stress hormones levels. “During REM sleep, memories are being reactivated, put in perspective and connected and integrated, but in a state where stress neurochemicals are beneficially suppressed,” said van der Helm. So, other than assisting with your daily concentration and productivity, it seems sleep can help with stress, too.
Obviously, getting quality sleep is easier said than done, what with noise and temperature being common obstacles to overcome. Finding something actually comfortable to sleep on is an issue for many, as a lot of people have trouble choosing the right firmness for their mattress. To remedy this, a company named Eve Sleep actually only provides one type of firmness for their memory foam mattress, albeit with different sizes available. Reviews for this mattress have been quite positive, with some really liking the different feeling to most spring-based mattresses.
We all think of some sort of physical exercise as a way to help our bodies stay fit and healthy, but it’s now widely acknowledged that there are considerable mental benefits as well. Exercise decreases the intensity of the body’s stress hormones, namely cortisol and adrenaline. But more than that, exercise actually increases the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that can lift moods and act as natural painkillers. Anyone who exercises on a daily basis would know of the “runner’s high,” which is a euphoric feeling after you’ve reached the end of your workout (think of Rocky with his hands in the air after running up all those steps).
Find a new hobby
When your mind is constantly occupied with work or family problems, then it’s really hard to find some free space where it can relax. If you take up a new hobby, be it knitting, basketball, or even growing plants, then you’re allowing yourself the time to switch off from your stressful thoughts and basically giving your mind some freedom.
Not so long ago, many people thought meditation was something monks did to gain enlightenment on top of a mountain. However, it has become so much more prevalent than that. In our ever-busy lives, taking a bit of time out to relax our minds is incredibly important. Daily meditation allows us process what has happened, what’s currently occurring, and how we can prepare for the days or weeks ahead. Apps like Headspace have brought meditation into the spotlight and made it accessible to the masses, not just monks.
Bath or massage
It’s an age-old treatment, but simply taking a long bath (ideally after a massage) will ease those muscles that often get so stiff when our bodies are stressed. If you add some aromatic bath bombs as well, you’re bound to have the most relaxing of baths.
Play video games/watch a movie/read a book
The main reason for doing any of these activities is simple: you go to another place in your mind. Whether it’s exploring the lands of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda video game, being scared by dinosaurs in Jurassic World, or revisiting Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books, these forms of entertainment help us not think about our daily problems and give us a joy at the same time.
It’s often just having someone who listens that removes all of our stress. Whether it’s a lot of little things, or one big concern, simply talking about it and getting it off your chest is incredibly freeing. Visiting a therapist on a weekly basis is a great idea, but you could also just schedule weekly friend dates where you can laugh and talk about issues bothering you.
Throughout history, artists have always used stressful times to produce incredible pieces of art. Write, make music, paint… whatever you enjoy, be creative and maybe you’ll generate something that is truly unique and that encapsulates what you’re feeling at that time. Plus, like talking, once it’s off your mind and into the world then you’ll likely feel so much better.