January 3, 2013

Therapuetic Thursday: Carving out Time for Relaxation

Some stress in our lives is good for us; it can create excitement and motivation.
However, allowing stress to take over your life can lead to depression, illness, and a general sense of malcontent.  Knowing how to relax is vital for ensuring your health and well being, as well as restoring the passion and joy in your life.  The most challenging part of relaxing for most of us is finding the time. I have listed a few activities all 30 minutes or less that can easily fit into a busy schedule.  Take a tip from Frankie and Relax!

Take a hot bath: Have you ever wondered why soap operas were called soap operas? The reason for this is because at one time the primary advertisements during day time television hours were commercials for bath soaps. Most of these commercials would show a woman who was frazzled from all the demands of her life who finally had time to herself and she used this time to take a warm bath. The reason this was such a popular format for those commercials was because hot baths are one of the best ways to relax ever invented. Heat causes our muscles to relax and skin to loosen in order to regulate its temperature. This in turn causes the rest of our bodies and our minds to follow suit and within just a few minutes of getting into the hot water you will begin to feel these effects.

Stretch: Standing up for a quick stretch can relieve muscle tension and help us relax during a stressful workday. Try this: Stand up and put your arms out straight and touch your palms and fingers together…kind of like you’re shooting a gun.  Then open your arms shoulder width and drop them back at your sides.  This will open up your chest and readjust your shoulders by putting them back where they are supposed to be.

Rub Your Feet Over a Golf or Tennis Ball: Put the ball on the floor and roll the bottom of your foot on it until you feel a tight or painful spot. Put as much pressure on the spot as you can by leaning your body weight into it.

Elevate your feet: This is the best thing you can do for 30 minutes a day.  It’s easy just find the time while watching TV.  Lay down and elevate your feet above your heart, this frees up restrictions from gravity, prevents varicose veins, and increases circulation.

Lay Your Head On a Cushion or Pillow: There are days when all we really need is a nice, long nap. If you’ve got a pillow, you’re already on the road to relaxation. Try this visualization technique: Lay your head down for a few minutes and imagine the pillow is a sponge sucking up all your worries.

Meditate: Five minutes of peace is all it takes to reap the benefits of meditation. There’s evidence that just two quick bouts of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression.

Remember to Breathe: Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Close Your Eyes: Take a quick break from a busy office or a chaotic household by just lowering your eyelids. It’s an easy way to regain calm and focus.

Give Yourself a Hand Massage: a hand massage can create instant relaxation that calms a pounding heart.  Massages can be especially helpful for people who spend a lot of time typing on a keyboard. Hands in general can carry a lot of tension. Apply some luxurious lotion and start kneading the base of the muscle under the thumb to relieve stress in the shoulders, neck, and scalp.

Drip Cold Water On Your Wrists:. When stress hits, head for the bathroom and drop some cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. There are major arteries right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body.

Run in Place: Try running in place for a few minutes to get those endorphins flowing. Even brief physical activity can help beat stress.

Walk: When you’re feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. You’ll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts!

Listen to Your Favorite Song: Sometimes singing along to your favorite song makes you feel better, but just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.

Dance: Research suggests people feel less anxious after dancing.

Do a Crossword Puzzle: Number 10 across: Anxious, overwhelmed, or freaking out (seven letters). If you guessed “Stressed,” you’re in good shape to try some crossword puzzles. Brain games that require lots of concentration can help take our mind off whatever’s worrying us.

Eat an orange or just sniff some Citrus: The smell of citrus can help us relax by increasing levels of the stress-related hormone norepinephrine.

Laugh: A fit of hysterics can increase blood flow and boost immunity.

Talk to a Friend: More talkative people tend to be happier in general. So vent to a coworker or call a close family member and spill.

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