How to Use Relaxation as an Antidote to Modern Stressors
Guest Post by Libby Limon
We know that stress can be the number one detrimental issue to our health, and therefore relaxation is a key antidote. However as stress in our modern lives increases, both our time and more importantly our ability to relax seems to become diminished.
We are now hyperconnnected to the world via our smart phones, there is often no let from work or just life admin, not to mention the additional distractions of social media. This combination means that we need to work harder and more mindfully to disconnect and relax, to truly combat stress.
Here is my method for taking some time out to truly relax.
1. Disconnect - Turn off your phone, laptop, all electronics if you can. If it makes you feel more comfortable. send out a message that you are going offline for the day, weekend or break period. Go analogue, get some magazines or books to read, plan a walk in the country side or book a massage.
2. Diet - On our downtime we tend to reach for ‘snacks and treats’ which tend to be refined carbs or sugar loaded. These are the worst foods to wind down on because they stimulate a blood sugar rollercoaster, causing subconscious stress on the body.
Take some time to prep some delicious ‘true’ comfort food such as a delicious warming stew with some sweet potato mash. If you fancy a sweet treat, go for some dark chocolate that contains mood enhancing polyphenols. Herbal teas such as Lemon balm and Chamomile are great way to give yourself an internal calming hug.
3. Breath - Calming breathing or 2:4 breath. Very simply find a comfy seat, set a timer for 5mins to 20mins (whatever you think you can handle to begin with), close your eyes breath in for count of 2 and out for count of 4. Breathing out for longer than you breath in soothes and relaxes the nervous system.
4. Mindfulness practice - I love to do a ‘yoga nidra’ – there plenty on Youtube or iTunes. This means nidra means ‘sleep’, it is a method to go into a semi-conscious state of relaxation. If you don’t want to do a full nidra, try this simple exercise, 'Body reading’. Lie down and get comfy on your back. Close your eyes. Then take your focus to one part of your body at a time. Start with your toes, one by one with each breath and work your way up your body.’
5. Relax your senses - Find some music that speaks to your soul. Dim the lights and use some aromatherapy scents that have been shown to relax, such as Lavender.
Libby Limon is a nutritionist and yoga teacher. She believes in creating optimal health through a diet and lifestyle that fits around your life.