It seems like everyone is stressed out lately, but busy moms have bragging rights about bearing the brunt of the recent crisis. The December jobs report shows the immense toll trying to homeschool children while managing a full-time career took on many.
If you need to unwind, your instincts might drive you to bad habits — but overindulging will only leave you feeling worse physically and mentally. How about something healthier with long-lasting beneficial effects?
Here are six relaxation techniques for stressful days that won’t leave you with regrets.
1. Immerse Yourself in Nature
One way to ease your blues is to go outside. Research published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that even looking at pictures of nature scenes alters the autonomic nervous system’s functioning and helps you to relax. Immersing yourself in planet earth’s glory is even better for boosting your mood.
It may also help your immune system. Another study published by NIH reveals that those who participate in the Japanese custom of forest bathing had elevated levels and activity of natural killer cells, which seek out and destroy invading germs. The effects lasted for up to 30 days after a 3-day hiking trip.
2. Try a Relaxing Workout
If you don’t feel like hitting the gym when stress has you exhausted, you aren’t alone. However, no one says you have to drag yourself to a HIIT class or spend an hour logging treadmill miles.
Why not head to your local YMCA and hit the pool? Aquatic therapy workouts start by soothing the body, which in turn eases your troubled mind. Warm water has a stellar reputation for relaxing muscles and relieving tension. It helps that you probably associate the water with pleasant excursions to the pool or beach.
If you want an ooey, gooey, melt-into-your-mat experience, seek out a yin yoga class. This style targets your connective tissues like your fascia, ligaments and tendons. It’s the ideal practice format for the end of a long day when all you want to do is release trapped toxins and tension and ease your way to dreamland. Warning: you may fall asleep on your mat, so bring a drool-towel.
Other options for relaxing workouts include dance or tai chi. You don’t have to give your body a vigorous beating to reap the benefits of exercise, including reduced stress and anxiety and improved mood.
3. Reset Your Mind with Guided Meditation
Mindfulness is an ideal meditation technique, but sometimes, it’s challenging to sit back and observe your thoughts nonjudgmentally. If you had a horrific day, and your brain is still in shock, you might notice that all of your notions are negative, making you feel worse.
When the nasties strike, it helps to reprogram your mind with the help of guided meditation. Healer-artists like Jason Stephenson and Michael Sealey ease you through full-body relaxation to get you in a suggestive state before reciting powerful affirmations. Pour yourself a cup of chamomile, lay back with your iPhone docked near your head and embrace yourself with aural positivity.
4. Perform a Random Act of Kindness
As the saying goes, the more you give, the more you receive. Studies show that volunteering floods your body with feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and oxytocin, which induce a relaxed, euphoric state.
You don’t have to sign up for an exhausting night shift at your local soup kitchen after a busy day to reap the benefits. If you see someone standing in a parking lot entrance with a cardboard sign, why not stop, give them some spare cash and, better yet, exchange a few kind words? You’ll both walk away feeling enriched.
5. Phone an Old Friend
Humans are social animals. Loneliness is more than an unpleasant emotion — it can increase all-cause mortality and shorten your lifespan.
Why not call up your old college roommate and catch up? If doing that seems too demanding after a long day, it can help to pour your heart out to someone you trust. It helps to say whether you want advice or merely to vent before the conversation starts. That way, you don’t feel hurt or invalidated if they offer tips when all you wanted to do was blow off steam.
6. Unwind with a Story
Sometimes, your mind wants nothing more than to escape. If you can’t afford a spontaneous beach getaway, you can still take a mental vaca with an engrossing book. If your eyes are too blurry to read after laboring at the screen all day, tune into an audio version.
You can score an Audible subscription for less than $20 per month. However, if even that strains your budget, you can find tons of story channels on YouTube. Just search for your favorite genre and kick back.
Try These 6 Relaxation Techniques for Stressful Days
2020 might have left you tense, and things haven’t quite settled down yet. Try these six relaxation techniques for stressful days the next time you want to wind down in a healthy way.