Sure, if you're lounging in linen on a tropical white sandy beach while being served a Mai Tai, it's pretty easy to feel like you're without a care in the world...sigh.
But back in reality – a.k.a. the daily grind – a regular relaxation practice can easily fall to the wayside, as deadlines, demands and unexpected hurdles can shatter even your most well-intended routines. That's why if you look at any mindfulness expert, you'll find a common denominator: they all use little “tools of calm” daily. These tools are not just things that can only be found at the top of a mystical mountain or require a huge investment of time (or money, for that matter!). Rather, these are easily accessible tools that can be reached for whenever a mental reset is needed. Here are seven simple and effective methods to change and improve your ability to relax:
1. Take a Moment to Move
Counter to what one would think, exercise – a.k.a. the practice of physical stress – has a very relaxing effect on the body. Exercise reduces the body's stress hormones and the endorphins it produces enhances your brain chemistry, promoting a good mood and encouraging self-confidence. While committing to a full-length class or going for a run after work are prime examples, even just taking a 15-minute walk around the block will offer benefits.
2. Breathe Consciously
Although we tend to think of breathing as an automatic component of our biology, it's also something we can control and use to our advantage. Among its many benefits, practicing breathwork can help lower blood pressure and induce inner calm within minutes! There are many types of breathing exercises to experiment with that involve slowing down your breathing and counting the time during inhalation, exhalation and sometimes held breath.
3. Incorporate Adaptogens
While adaptogenic foods won't have you feeling immediately more relaxed, they will help your body become more equipped to handle stress through their adrenal-supporting qualities. Popular adaptogens include Maca, Goji Berries, holy basil and medicinal mushrooms. Check out the Navitas Organics recipe bank for tons of delicious ideas on how to use these superfoods!
4. Drink Up
The state of dehydration has many woes, including causing high blood pressure. Taking a moment to drink a glass of water, a cup of tea or a cold beverage can help your entire inner ecosystem run more efficiently and keep you feeling at ease. You can also make an elixir using homeopathic relaxing herbs, such as chamomile, lavender or lemon balm.
5. Try Cold Exposure
Hydrotherapy, or applying different temperatures of water onto the skin, has shown great promise in elevating mood and promoting a relaxed state of being. Try ending your shower with a 30-60 second cold water rain. After the initial temperature shock, you'll enjoy an immediate decrease in stress hormones and a noticeable sense of calm.
6. Practice Meditation
Aside from being practical – it takes just minutes and can be done absolutely anywhere – meditation has been linked to an extraordinary number of health benefits, including reduced anxiety, increased blood flow, slowing of the heart rate and even enhanced immunity. Though it may be hard to sit still during stressful times, making a habit of practicing meditation on a regular basis can have profound effects on your mood, physical prowess and ability to problem solve.
7. Use Aromatherapy
Essential oils can have powerful effects on physical and psychological well being. Using a diffuser to slowly release healing fragrances like rose, citrus, ylang-ylang and lavender can protect against nervousness, anxiety and depression, while calming the body and mind.
The key to maintaining a relaxed state, calm mind and healthy body is consistency. So, whether you pick one to do a day or practice a combination of the above, stay on it and you're guaranteed to experience lasting success. For more information on the way meditation is an especially helpful practice to support relaxation, read "5 Steps to Reducing Stress."