Everybody is so busy nowadays. We work, workout, train clients, travel, answer emails, take care of kids and pets, clean the house, study, wash our cars, race to the grocery store, cook food and run to classes, all while we fire off a hundred text messages per day, field phone calls and answer work emails from our phone every time they come through regardless of what time it is.
We mainline coffee and read books and blog posts on how to become more efficient so that we can do the above things faster, which will free up time for us to do even more stuff. Phew! Exhausting, right?
All of this craziness tends to lead to stress
. Stress is that dirty little 6 letter word that keeps us up at night, messes with our cortisol levels
, hinders our recovery process, prevents us from losing weight, and even causes us to gain
weight, especially belly fat.
Most everybody I come into contact with claims to be “tired” or “stressed” quite frequently. Because of this I want to share with you my favorite tips and tricks to relax, unwind and decompress without going to a fancy spa. These are all things that I use or have used and I can personally attest to the benefits of each of them.
**Obviously I’m not a doctor so please check with your doctor and do your homework before taking any supplements.
Kava Kava root, Passionflower and Valerian Root
All three of these natural herbs are wonderful for coping with stress, relaxing, taking the edge off, and helping you sleep. I prefer these in the liquid form, adding the recommended droplets to a little cup of water and drinking it.
This magical little supplement has the power to help control your cortisol levels, reduce stress and help you sleep. I have taken both Biotest and Now Brands Rhodiola Rosea and like them both a lot.
Bedtime tea by Yogi
This tea is made with chamomile and valerian root and has a bit of a spicy cinnamon-like flavor to it. A nice warm cup of this about 30 minutes before bed will have you relaxed and drifting off peacefully in no time. You can find this tea in the tea section at your grocery store.
For a long time I was watching the news, surfing the web or playing on my phone before bed and I realized that I wasn’t sleeping very well. All of the bright lights from the television and computer actually stimulates us mentally, which makes it harder for us to fall asleep. I’ve made the change over the last few months to shut everything off and crawl into bed around 9pm. That is where I get my geek on and read for 30 minutes as I burn my…
I am an aromatherapy nut and I absolutely love lavender oil for it’s relaxation benefits. It has that wonderful soothing smell that wafts through the massage rooms in the top spas and it’s typically used in yoga classes during Savasana, which is the meditation segment of the class. I snagged a beautiful aromatherapy oil diffuser at Whole Foods for about $15 and a bottle of lavender oil (I recommend Aura Cacia) for about $15. This seems a bit pricey but you only need a few drops of oil so it will last a long time. You pour a little water in the top of the diffuser, drop in about 4 – 5 drops of aromatherapy oil and light the candle underneath to warm it. I have this diffuser by our bed and burn the oil as I read at night. It’s so peaceful and it smells so good!
Not everybody has the time or the means to visit a massage therapist all of the time. What is the next best thing? A little self-myofascial release, aka SMR, aka a DIY massage. You can pick up my favorite foam roller
over at EliteFTS, or if you really want to dig in deep you can grab EFS’ Rumble Roller
. I love to foam roll before bed and then hop into nice warm….
Any bath will do, but I like to make mine extra relaxing by lighting candles around the bathtub, using aromatherapy bath salts (I love the ones by Aura Cacia
) and playing some soft music. It’s amazing what this can do for my soul and my ability to fall asleep!
Magnesium has a calming effect on our nervous systems and helps us sleep better. It also helps detox the body of cortisol, improves digestion, and decreases anxiety and inflammation. I’m a huge fan of Biotest Elite Pro Minerals
, which is a combo of Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium. I far prefer this supplement over Biotests ZMA supplement, but many people love ZMA as well.
When you hear “meditation” you probably think of some little old guy with a white beard that is sitting cross-legged on a rug with his middle fingers and thumbs pinched together. Let me assure you that while meditation can
be like this, it most certainly does not have
to be. As a die hard yogi practitioner and instructor, I am a firm believer of the power behind meditation. Think about it for a second – how often do you relax comfortably in silence and clear your mind, without the intention of going to sleep? Probably never. I would like to challenge you to try to meditate and experience the rewards it can bring to your mind, body and soul.
Meditation made simple:
Make yourself comfortable. You can sit, lay down, prop your knees up with a pillow, or whatever is the most comfortable. Close your eyes and start to focus on the sound of your breath. As thoughts pop into your head, acknowledge them and then dismiss them, as you continue to focus on the sound of your breath. Let your eyeballs relax back into their sockets. Relax your feet, legs, hips, abdomen, chest, arms, shoulders, neck and facial muscles. Your only focus is the sound of your breath.
You can play some soft music if you like (Pandora has a great “Calm Meditation” station) or you can do this in silence. Like you would do with anything, start small. At first, just 5 minutes may seem challenging and that is okay! Start with 5 minutes, and work your way up to 6 minutes, then 7, etc. You owe it to yourself to spend 10 – 15 minutes per day with yourself and your breath, clearing your mind of the chatter.
Breathing. Sounds simple enough, right? We are so busy and wound up so tight during the day that we end up taking short and shallow breaths, causing everything to tense up. The following is a very simple breathing exercise that you can do once or twice a day to help you get some deep breaths and let go of stress. You can do this exercise anywhere:
The 4-7-8 Breath
(aka, The Relaxing Breath)
- Get into a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Gently place at the tip of your tongue right behind your top front teeth.
- Inhale through your nose as you mentally count to four.
- Hold that breath as you mentally count to seven.
- Open your lips and exhale slowly and noisily through your mouth as you mentally count to eight.
- Repeat this for 4 – 8 rounds.
Starting a little daily gratitude journal to jot down the wonderful moments that happened each day as we unwind can be very beneficial. It will help you become more aware of how many good things happen each day. You could write down anything that brought you some happiness – your delicious lunch, your funny co-worker, the pretty sunrise, the silly thing your dog did, or your great training session. Getting these happy things on to paper helps us relax and enables us to better appreciate the small things to bring awareness to just how blessed each of us are. (This is particularly useful when you’ve had a bad day. Rather than dwelling on the bad parts of the day, reflect on the good things that happened, no matter how small it may be.)
One last reminder: I am NOT a doctor and I’m not recommending that you take any supplements. I’m simply sharing what I take. Please do your homework and check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
What do you do to relax and keep stress at bay in the comfort of your own home or office? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? I’d love to hear them and add them to my arsenal!
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