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7 Ways to Improve Your Health Through Relaxation

August 08, 2016 in Stress & Anxiety

We live in a fast-paced society that can be stressful and demanding on both our physical and mental health. We prioritize our work-life, our family-life, our social-life, and often forget to prioritize our own life. Maintaining your health means taking care of the body and mind that you are using every day. If you can't take care of yourself, then you will be left unable to take care of the responsibilities and people that matter to you.  Often, the importance of relaxation, meditation, and simply unwinding remain understated, when in fact, allocating time to sit back and de-stress can be essential for your health. Here are several ways you can add the element of restful relaxation into your daily life.

 

1. Meditation

Meditation is an age-old practice that involves training the mind to simply acknowledge its content to enhance a state of well-being. Being able to self-regulate the mind leads to both mental and physiological health benefits including:

-Decreases anxiety
-Increases creativity
-Sharpens sense of focus
-Prevents depression
-Lowers high blood pressure
-Decreases tension-related pain
-Improves serotonin production
-Improves immune system
-Increases energy levels

Meditative Practice To Try At Home: 
1. Find time in the morning or before bed when you can be alone.

2. Sit either in a chair or comfortably on the floor and close your eyes. Begin focusing on the body; focus on the tension you are holding in your body parts and the sensations you are experiencing.

3. Now focus on the contents of the mind. Are you bored? Distracted? Anxious? Instead of identifying with these emotions, allow them to wash over you and observe how they affect the sensations in the body. You may feel a tightness in your chest or a sickness in your stomach.

4. Begin to very closely pay attention to your breathing. Feel the inhalations and exhalations in your diaphragm. Feel the rush of air through your nostrils or from your lips. If your mind begins to wander, acknowledge this in one word such as "planning" or "thinking", and bring yourself back.

5. Try this meditative practice for only 2 minutes and watch your patience grow each day by increasing this time minute by minute.

 

2. Yoga

Yoga is a combination of mental, spiritual, and physical practices that combine to promote peace and relaxation. Yoga has many of the same health and mental benefits as meditation with the added bonus of physical strength, increased range of motion, flexibility, and weight loss. Attending a yoga class once a week can grant you the direction and routine of adding new practices for relaxation into your life. Yoga is more than just a physical exercise but also a means for controlling the body and mind. You can have your own yoga retreat right at home. Try shutting off any harsh lights, lighting a candle, setting up a comfortable exercise mat, and selecting a soothing playlist, in order to engage all of the senses. You can try beginner yoga poses with modifications and slowly work your way up to poses with greater complexity. Check out these simple yoga poses for sciatica.

 

3. Therapeutic or Mechanical Massage

Massage is about working out the built up tensity and aches in the body through pressure. Massage practitioners know the value of a natural treatment that provides tangible results. Massage can relieve pain, diminish anxiety, reduce depression, as well as help athletes or patients undergoing physical therapy to correct joint or muscle mobility and disability. Regular appointments with massage therapists can become costly, which is why the availability of mechanical massage is beneficial long-term. If you are uninterested in investing in a massage chair, the DR-HO'S Shiatsu Massager is a portable neck and shoulder massaging device that provides both heat and multiple massaging modes. After a long day when the neck and shoulder muscles feel tight, tense, and painful, wrapping the Shiatsu Massager around your neck and selecting your mode of choice can: promote muscle relaxation, reduce aches, ease tensity carried in the upper body, and enhance a more peaceful state.

 

4. Reading

We are exposed to a lot more screen time than we used to be. Working on computers, staring into smart phones, and unwinding with our favourite TV show can be helpful activities, but can leave our eyes and heads aching for a break. Try to cut down screen time at least one hour before bed and relax with a book. Reading is extremely mentally stimulating, reduces stress, provides knowledge, expands your vocabulary, improves memory retention, and allows for better focus. These skills can transfer into your meditative practices and foster your new state of relaxation.

 

5. Journal

Journaling is a positive way to acknowledge, reflect, and accept your thoughts. Writing in general is a therapeutic activity. Start a journal that you will keep for your eyes only, as to not restrict you from being fully expressive and comfortable. In the morning, wake up and write what you would like to accomplish during the day. Write your goals, motivations, and aspirations. Before bed, reflect on your day and express your emotions, disappointments, positive experiences and other thoughts that come to mind. Allow your journal to act as an outlet for your inner thoughts. You can reflect on your writing, but the primary purpose is to release the stream of consciousness that is usually kept bottled up. Just as you learn from meditation, do not judge your thoughts, simply acknowledge them.

 

6. Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are an extremely important practice for promoting relaxation because they can be done anywhere and at any time. Deep abdominal breathing can actively reduce stress and anxiety. Breathing techniques are also intertwined with practices of meditation and yoga. Whether you are in the car, at work, or settling in for bed you can add breathing practices to your daily routine.

How to breathe mindfully:
-Place one hand on the belly.
-Take a deep breath in through the nose for a count of 7 seconds. Ensure that the breath reaches the diaphragm and is not only present in your chest.
-Exhale and release the breath for a count of 11 seconds.
-Observe all of the sensations in your chest, diaphragm, nostrils, and other body parts.
-Try to take 10 of these deep breaths for 10 minutes each day.

 

7. Drink More Tea

Sipping on a chamomile tea before bed can help relax the body and mind. DR-HO'S Cleansing Sereni-Tea contains both oriental and western herbs that are proven to provide a more restful sleep. Ingredients such as chamomile soothe the nervous system and can combat insomnia. Chamomile has also been shown to soothe stomach aches, calm muscle spasms, and act as an anti-bacterial beverage. People have the tendency to drink coffee or other highly caffeinated beverages, without realizing the consequences. Caffeine can result in restlessness and even fluctuate the blood sugar to contribute enormously to food cravings. There is also an inevitable crash that comes after that instant caffeine high. In general, swapping out sugary and highly caffeinated beverages for teas infused with healthy herbs can make a big difference in your day to day life.   

Sources:

2016. The Art Of Living. All Rights Reserved. "Benefits of Meditation."

2016. The Tea Talk. All Rights Reserved. "Chamomile Tea Benefits Your Body, Mind, and Spirit."

2012 Emet, Joseph. Gaiam Life. All Rights Reserved. "Calming the Mind: A Meditation Exercise."

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