Given my recent blog post on sadness, I thought I’d also share with you the ways I use to de-stress naturally – as in without any drugs or therapy sessions. There is the occasional glass of red wine though…
1. Do Yoga
Being a former Pilates and Classical Ballet teacher, I know that exercise is an integral part of my well-being. Multiple studies also show this to be true for most, if not all people. We are designed to move. And whether that means going to a formal class with a teacher to guide you through (as in Pilates), or even dancing like a maniac to your favourite music, do it. No excuses, just try it, and see how much fun you can have. For this section though, I’m going to focus on yoga.
There’s an excellent site called Do Yoga With Me which has hundreds and hundreds of classes, taught by professional instructors for all levels, from beginners to advanced… and they’re all free!
You can also donate by joining the Do Yoga With Me Community, which helps keep the site going, plus gives you access to even more high quality online classes, and allows you to rate videos of classes you’ve taken part of. Their review system is excellent, and I find really helps you decide which classes to try your hand at. Being a Pilates and Ballet girl, I never thought I’d say this but I now LOVE yoga!
2. Have A Bath
I know if you’re in most parts of Australia, or even somewhere like California you have to really be mindful about conserving water. But once in a while, I think it’s more than acceptable to “pamper” yourself and have a bath. I have to admit, every time I have one, two things happen…
1: I wish I had them more frequently! Especially when we’ve had a lot of rain and the water tanks are full.
2: I have to eat in it! And usually messy things like spaghetti Bolognese (bath + spaghetti = best combination ever IMHO), dark chocolate, strawberries, my favourite cup of matcha and lemon juice or my absolute favourite to top it all off – sparkling shiraz!
If you’re not a “bath person”, maybe try it a bit differently a few times, to see what works for you. I like it really hot, 3/4 full and with lots of food.
My hubby Andi recently discovered that he really likes his cold! He never thought he was a bath person until he sat in it long enough the other day and it got cold… heaven apparently! There was a video game or two to keep him distracted while in there. So as you can see what works for me or Andi, may not work for you.
A few suggestions:
- Try experimenting with the temperature.
- Try it with salts/oils/bubble bath (palm oil and sls free of course). Try it without.
- Take a book, magazine or even just an eye mask to do absolutely nothing but lay there.
- Have the lights off, light candles, try the lights on low if you have a dimmer switch.
- Try breathing deeply, focusing on relaxation and being calm.
- Take an aeroplane neck pillow in with you… try it, you won’t look back.
- Whatever you do though, I’d suggest not taking your phone or computer in with you. For obvious blue light distraction and possible electrocution reasons. Remember, taking care of you is the goal.
3. Go For A Walk In Nature
Nature is wonderful. You don’t need me to tell you that. When you “make the effort” to get outside, smell the fresh air and at least some of the time, walk barefoot to ground yourself, you just feel better. If you live in the city, and there’s a park a wee way away from you, drive there, then spend your precious time walking in and around the park.
4. Talk To Your Spouse/Partner/Friends/Family
Sometimes, you just need to talk. Turn off that ipad/computer/smart phone (although not just yet, finish reading this post at least), and have a conversation. Talk to your spouse/partner. Tell them how you’re feeling, what happened today or this week. Ask them what’s going on with them. How are they feeling? Is there anything you really want to say that’s stayed locked up inside for a while? Or just that you want to chit-chat? Try and really listen when they’re talking, and hopefully they’ll give you the same courtesy.
Phone up your Mum, Dad, Brother, Sister, Gran, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, best friend, someone you’ve been out of contact with for a while and bloody-well talk to them! Skype is the other good option for those that live far away from you (though I know this requires a computer of some form or another). Or you could always start talking to your computer like Joaquin Phoenix did in the movie “Her”… or maybe not.
5. Make Time To Just Breathe
There are many apps, meditation websites and techniques you can apply to this, but if you like to keep it simple, try just breathing in for 5 seconds, hold without tension for 5 seconds, then breathe out for 5 seconds. Or even simpler, breathe in deeply, breathe out deeply.
I like to focus on expanding my rib cage (front, back and sides) as I inhale through my nose. Relaxing my jaw and facial features, feeling my shoulders melt down my back, really opening out my chest to the sky. Then on the exhale (through the mouth), feeling my stomach gently pull inwards and upwards, mildly lifting pelvic floor muscles, and feeling the tightness and tension seep out and melt down away from my body. You can close your eyes for this, or not. Try it for 10 rounds (1 round = 1 in breath + 1 out breath), as an individual exercise. It only takes around 3 minutes of your day, and can be done anywhere.
The other day, I also found this wonderful breathing class (again on Do Yoga With Me), that challenges you to really try different ways of breathing and testing different patterns. It can make you feel a little light headed at times, but I guess as long as you’re not attempting it while atop the ledge of a sky-scraper, that’s ok.