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If there was a poll for the most infuriating advice ever given we think ‘you just need to relax ’ would comfortably win first prize. If only it was that easy. Don’t get us wrong, we’d love to spend time working on balancing our inner chi, but putting that into practice when you’ve got a to-do list as long as your left arm and a million things whizzing around your brain is another matter entirely.
So we’ve come up with a relaxation plan to suit busy bees that can only dream of attending a two-week a yoga retreat in the Swiss Alps:
1. Survive the commute: if you’ve had a busy day you can almost guarantee that the travel gods will find it the opportune moment to send the trains up the spout or give you a mile long traffic jam on your route home. We’ve decided to reclaim our maddening commute as chill time instead. Bear with us on this one… Meditating is a really productive way to use the time you spend travelling rather than just clock-watching until you get home. We like to plug our headphones in and use Jody Shield’s free podcasts. Focusing your mind after a packed day is actually more difficult than we expected, but when you do get the hang of it, even a couple of minutes can help to relieve stress and reset a brain that’s gone into overdrive.
2. Up your vitamin C intake: after a hectic day a whole tub of Haagen-Dazs to yourself feels like a great idea – we’ve all been there and it’s totally understandable. But instead of reaching for the Cookies and Cream, try to up the amount of vitamin C you’re eating. The super vitamin is proven to help us feel less anxious as it regulates the stress hormones pumping around your body, levels out blood sugar and even increases oxygen flow to the brain. As well as a glass of the good old faithful orange juice, you can up your intake with a couple of handfuls of strawberries and raspberries, by having an extra portion of broccoli, brussel sprouts or kale with your dinner or even adding some fresh chopped chilli or red pepper into something you’d normally cook.
3. Get acquainted with your pressure points: you know when you wish there was an off button for your brain? There actually is. Pressure points are all over your body and when pressed, can help to calm you down surprisingly quickly. The best one we’ve tried is to take your thumb and place it just below the indentation on the inside of your ankle and put your third finger on the other side of your ankle bone and squeeze gently. Count down from 60, taking in deep breathes. Seems weird but we felt noticeably calmer in under a minute.
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4. Take a mini digital detox: it’s almost second nature to reach for your phone or watch an episode (*cough* series) of your latest Netflix addiction to help yourself wind down, but taking a screen break is a much more effective way of chilling yourself out. If you’re stressed or having a bad day, constantly checking social media or watching a screen of any kind can actually be stimulating an already overactive mind without you realising. Disconnecting even once a month can do wonders and frees your time up for lots of other relaxing activities (like reading that book that’s been sitting next to your bed for the past eight months).
5. Super-charge your bath: taking a bath to unwind is the clichéd piece of advice that we have to admit really works. We’re taking bath time to the next level by adding magnesium and salts into the water since they help to physically relax your muscles, which more often than not will have tensed up when you got stressed. A scented candle thrown in for good measure never hurts either…
Feel better already? Read on for more stress-busting tips...