Feeling Stressed? Here Are 6 Expert-Backed Ways On How To Relax Your Mind
6 minutes read
Everyone feels stress and it can look different for every one of us. A cause of distress for someone might not even bother you.
According to Mind, the mental health charity, one in four of us find that every single day is a struggle.
Mastering the art of relaxing your mind and body during these trying times can be instrumental for your long-term physical and mental health.
In need of some relaxation tips? Here are 6 expert-backed ways on how to cope up with stress.
Is the pandemic causing you more stress?
Yes. According to the Stress Management Society, 65% of adults in the UK feel more stressed than ever due to the pandemic and an estimated 1.1 million are experiencing long COVID. The World Health Organisation predicts that mental health illnesses could generate a parallel pandemic that may last a lot longer than COVID-19.
The first step is to be aware; the next is to act.
Benefits of relaxation
Now, you might think stress is all bad, but no, it isn’t. Instead, research suggests acute short-lived stress stimulates the brain for improved performance and focus.
Even positive life changes, such as getting a new job, going on holiday, or moving to a bigger house, can be a source of stress. However, the way you handle whatever life throws at you also makes a difference.
When we feel stress, our body responds by releasing hormones that increase blood pressure. Experts call this stress response. On the other hand, relaxation helps the body calm down, lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and reduce muscle tension and aches and pains.
6 expert ways to help you relax your mind and body
If there is one life lesson we could take away from the pandemic, nothing is more important than prioritising ourselves and relationships.
So, strengthen these areas and discover more ways to bring you peace and spark joy in your soul.
1. Mood-boosting foods to eat well and feel better
Unhealthy food choices can lead to mood swings. Whenever you crave fast food and order a massive burger with truffle fries on the side, topped off with a large soda and sundae – then you suddenly feel tired and irritable…
Scientists found that sugary foods and beverages, refined carbohydrates, and large amounts of salt can cause blood sugar imbalances and trigger a pretty grumpy response.
While processed foods such as deli meats increase the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and alcohol in excess – it may result in one big mind and body crash. Instead, hit refresh by making healthy food swaps. A warm bowl of oatmeal boosts serotonin (a chemical in the brain that affects mood).
Try mood-boosting, B-Vitamin-rich foods: fish, eggs, meat, poultry. Vegans might prefer B12 supplements. Say yes to Deliveroo Japanese: Seaweed is packed with depression-fighting iodine, so be sure to add that to your order. A splash of coconut cream into your flat white or soup is fat that fuels better moods and early studies have shown that it protects brain cells too.
Lastly? Keep hydrated too. Even the slightest hint of dehydration can cause fatigue, moodiness and headaches.
2. Exercise and relax
It has long been proven that exercise releases’ feel-good hormones’ endorphins in the brain. So when your body is busy, your mind will be distracted.
The good news is that almost any type of exercise would work. Even a simple 20-minute stroll could be a form of relaxation. The NHS recommends training for at least 150 minutes a week spread evenly to five days a week or every day.
It can be brisk walking, yoga, pilates, or even heavy gardening. Breathing exercises, such as deep breathing, are also a form of relaxation. It is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Add a fitness or Apple watch for prompts to take a break, stretch your legs, increase water intake, and meditate.
3. Go beyond self-care Sunday
Indulging in a little ‘me time’ can go a long way, not only because of its therapeutic quality. It can also boost self-esteem, strengthen bonds and relationships, among others.
There are several types of self-care, such as physical, emotional, spiritual self-care, to mention a few. A survey reveals more than 80% of people enjoy a warm bath and significantly feel relaxed, relieved from fatigue, and refreshed after bathing, along with lowering tension, anxiety, anger, and hostility.
- Before bedtime, why not reward yourself with a warm bath and slather shower gel with aromatic essential oils like Clarins Relax Bath and Shower Concentrate enriched with basil, chamomile and petitgrain oils, which aid in relaxation and encourage a decent slumber. Layer with the Relax Body Treatment Oil.
- Skincare: After bath time, proceed with your normal skincare routine. Plus, treat yourself with Clarins’ Extra-Firming Mask, leave for 10 minutes to diminish the look of tension lines, and help to dissolve the signs of stress and fatigue. Most importantly, get your 7-8 hours of shut-eye per night – they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing.
- Make-up: Did you know putting on make-up improves mental health? It might be ‘superficial’ for some, but you are not doing it to appease them. Make-up boosts self-esteem and provides a creative, fun outlet for self-expression. When you feel good with how you look, it generally makes you happy overall.
4. Unplug the tech
The mindless scrolling habit on social media makes you stressed, anxious and depressed. Not the other way around. Comparing yourself with other people’s highlights is detrimental to your mental health.
Schedule some time every day to unplug. It can be when you have dinner with family, out on nature walks, and hang out with friends. Put down your phone and be in the moment.
5. Connect with family and friends
A call to see how a loved one is doing or catching up with your best friend can be a good source of laughter. In addition, talking with a parent or guardian figure helps to release oxytocin, a feel-good brain chemical that is believed to play a crucial role in forming bonds.
People who use their family and friends as a ‘stress buffer’ tend to avoid harmful coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking alcohol, or drugs.
6. Do what makes you happy
Now is the best time to do what makes you happy. It can be unleashing your inner Picasso, learning a new language, sharpening your culinary skills, joining a book club or pottery-making class, journaling, or binge-watching a new series (FYI, ditch the dark thrillers and add a comedy to series link.)
Learning new things gives your brain a workout. It can reduce stress, create new brain connections, get your body in a state of flow, and make you happier.
What to do if you feel like you can’t relax?
If none of this advice seems to work for you, do not blame yourself. Just the fact that you are frustrated means you want to take action.
Treat yourself to professional massage as it helps relieve stress and release happy hormones.
However, If you need professional help, please turn to the people at Mind – the mental health charity that offers guidance and helps you navigate through the tough times.