5 Ways To Calm & Relax
1. Try the once-a-day peace trick – ‘Rhythmic Oscillating Breathing’
Slow down, you move too fast! Our acceleration is symptomatic of our increasingly fast-paced lives. Try a daily meditative moment. Meditation isn’t all about levitating yogis chanting ‘ommm’, it simply involves focusing your mind to help alleviate stress. The beauty of meditation is it takes just 15 minutes of quiet time and you can do it anywhere and anytime – at home, on the train to work, during your lunch break – the only condition is that you find a moment of peace every day. First find a quiet space and clear your thoughts. Sit up straight – either cross-legged or in a chair – close your eyes and focus on the rise and fall of your breath, counting each in-and-out cycle. As you do this, imagine your breath rising from your pelvis to your forehead and back again. Aim for between four and 10 cycles, and then allow yourself a few minutes to ‘come round’ before speeding up to your normal pace of life again.
2. Develop a thousand-yard-stare – ‘Wink of Sleep’
Relax your eyes – it’s a key technique in acquiring a tranquil mind. Whenever you begin to feel tense, ‘imagine seeing your eyes as blank, inscrutable and unresponsive – so relaxed they’re almost asleep. When your eyes are fully relaxed, you can’t help but feel less frazzled.
3. Cure worry on your own – ‘Down Time or Lone Time’
If you want to uncover your inner calm, seek some solitude. ‘Being with other people all the time, no matter how loving or wonderful they may be, interferes with our bio-psychological rhythm’. This rhythm functions through a combination of hormones, neurotransmitters and your body’s internal body clock and never having a moment to yourself can send it off kilter. Spending time alone – reading a book, going for a walk or just listening to your iPod – can help put you back in sync with yourself.
4. Food-boost your mood – ‘You are what you Eat’
Increase your intake of foods such as beetroot, red grapes, blueberries and aubergines – in fact, anything that’s purple and indigo coloured. As being packed with antioxidants, purple-coloured foods can calm and relax you.
5. Learn the do-anywhere stress releaser – ‘Conditioning’
Conditioned response technique allows you to actually teach yourself to resist stress – with autogenic training. It may sound like something you’d do at the gym while a PT shouts at you, but it’s actually a series of mental exercises, similar to hypnosis. It teaches you to switch off your body’s stress response and switch on a calm state. Try this taster exercise: lie on your back with your eyes closed. Consciously tense and then release all of your muscles and, as you feel calmness and relaxation enter your body, say in your head ‘I am completely relaxed and calm’. By doing this for 15 minutes, three times a day, you’ll fix the sensation to the sentence. With practice, all you’ll have to do is say the sentence in your head and the relaxed state will follow automatically – wherever you are. ‘Conditioned Response’.
10 Steps to Happiness
1 RUN FOR THE BUS
A 30 sec sprint can boost your mood for 90mins. The buzz-making hormone noradrenaline increases 7 times and endorphins double. Also try a 30-sec sprint to end of your workouts.
2 BOIL A BANANA SKIN
Banana peel contains ingredients that increase levels of the happy hormone serotonin. It is suggest you drink the water in which you’ve boiled a banana skin to get the boost. It tastes like camomile tea with a banana kick.
3 CREATE A TIMETABLE
Each morning, write down what you aim to do achieve that day in a My Plan column, and at the end of the day, compare it to a What Actually Happened column. This process will help you to assess where you are overcrowding your life and expecting too much of yourself – and where you are increasing your stress. Organising your thoughts and reactions in this way can help you achieve a state of calm & responsibility.
4 EAT EGGS
They’re a good source of the de-stressing amino acid taurine. This inhibits adrenaline and helps your body eliminate the stress hormone cortisol. It creates a real “nothing can affect me” feeling.’ Seafood’s another good source. Try Victoria Health’s Good Health Taurine spray under your tongue when the pressure’s on or St John Wart.
5 SPEED READ
The faster you think, the happier you feel. When people read statements twice as fast as they would normally, they felt happier, more energetic and more powerful afterwards. It works because it mimics the way your brain reacts when you’re excited or inspired.
6 GO FLORAL
Seeing flowers first thing in the morning gives an energy and mood boost that can last hours and kitchen blooms are most effective. But don’t put them near a bowl of fruit or the veg rack. Fruit and veg produce gas ethylene, which increases the speed at which flowers wilt.
7 TAKE THE CONFIDENCE HERB
A daily dose of the Russian herb rhodiola can make you feel happier and improve your self esteem. Rhodiola is known to improve levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone that boosts motivation, alertness and confidence. It can influence mood in as little as 30 minutes.
8 EXHALE YOUR ISSUES
Think about what’s stressing you, noticing where you feel it in your body (the upper chest is a common area), now breathe in and out, focusing on that area, telling the feeling to soften and flow. It’ll move about your body, so keep shifting your focus, and eventually, usually within 10 minutes, it’ll exit. You’ll know when you’ve got to this stage because you’ll feel lighter and more energised.
9 HAVE A SPOONFUL OF HONEY
Sugar boosts serotonin levels in the brain, making you happy – and some honeys may also offer high levels of antioxidants. ‘The part of the brain involved with anxiety is the hippocampus and this is particularly prone to damage by free radicals. Protect your hippocampus with honey and you may find yourself feeling less stressed.
10 SING & LAUGH!
Listening to a choir can make you happy, but you’ll be happier still if you’re doing the singing. When you sing, you inhale quickly, then you let the breath out slowly, which naturally calms you down plus that initial breath sends oxygen flooding into your system, which energises you. And we laugh less than we should as we get older (children laugh 100’s of times a day but by our thirties we chuckle just 5 times a day). We need to learn jokes as watching others laugh is also good. Those who regularly laugh have a 20% higher chance of good health as it decreases stress hormones (cortisol), boosts your immune system, increases infection-fighting antibodies, lowers cholesterol and can help reduce your blood pressure.