***NOTE FROM ENO: This post is the fourth of a week-long series of blog posts celebrating National Relaxation Day on August 15th! Check out our relaxation sweepstakes going on from now until August 14th, and enter to win some ENO goodies!!***
You overslept your alarm this morning and high-tailed it to work, forgetting half of the things you need for that important meeting today. You have relatives coming from out of town later, and you haven’t even started cleaning the house. And now you come home to find that the dog has tracked mud all over the kitchen floor. Whatever stressful situation you find yourself in, it can start to feel like the world is slowly turning against you. Don’t run yourself crazy by stressing out over things you can’t control. When you start to feel overwhelmed, there are some things you can do to calm yourself down and relax a bit.
1. Hide Out. Make your own special hiding space at home, down by the lake, in your yard…somewhere you can retreat to when you feel stressed. Distance yourself from everything for a while. Set up your hammock, bring a book and read for a while. Or just sit and enjoy the quiet. You’ll feel rejuvenated in no time.
2. Do Yoga. Doctors and therapists often use yoga to treat patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. When the spine is bent, as it is most of the time in yoga, the vagus nerve is activated, which then activates the parasympathetic system – the part of the nervous system that calms you down. Yoga also improves breathing, which will more effectively send energy-giving oxygen to your brain and internal organs.
3. Eat Some Soup. There’s something about wrapping yourself in a blanket with a bowl of hot soup and a book that is so comforting. Add a crackling fire, and you have entered ultimate relaxation. Soup warms your belly and leaves you full without feeling stuffed. It brings out many pleasant emotions that will leave you feeling relaxed.
4. Do a Breathing Exercise. You can relax your body just by breathing. Breathing detoxifies your body, as it releases toxins through carbon dioxide, which is a natural waste of your body’s metabolism. It also massages your organs. When your diaphragm moves, it massages the stomach, small intestine, liver, and pancreas. The upper part of the diaphragm also massages the heart, improving blood circulation. Breathing also improves posture, quality of blood, and digestion of food. Learn how to breathe properly so that you can calm yourself down whenever you need to:
- Inhale through your nose, expand your belly, and puff out your chest for 3 seconds.
- Hold your breath and count to 3.
- Slightly part your mouth and exhale slowly and fully for 5 seconds.
- Repeat as often as you need to.
5. Drink Green Tea. Green Tea contains L-Theanine, a chemical that helps diffuse anger and induces a relaxing effect without drowsiness. It increases dopamine levels in the brain, which decreases both mental and physical stress, improves cognition, and boosts mood.
6. Wander Around in Nature. Doctors and scientists have proven in numerous studies that merely being in a natural setting such as the woods, the park, or garden improves mood, relieves brain fatigue, helps our focus, and de-stresses us. In a study at the University of Michigan, Dr. Marc Berman and his research team found that study subjects performed 20% better when they were given a break to walk through an arboretum compared to a break to walk down a busy street. So whenever you feel your stress levels rising, go on a hike or a stroll through the park. The trees, fresh air, and sun will bring you back to life.