Getting a massage is without a doubt one of the best ways to relax and de-stress. It relaxes tense, tired muscles, reduces pain and soreness and greatly improves circulation. Massage also lowers the stress-hormone, cortisol and promotes mental and emotional calm. In a perfect world (where time and money are endlessly abundant), we could enjoy a massage every single day. Unfortunately, that is just not ‘reality’ for most of us.
Fortunately, there are a number of proven, quick and easy ways to reduce stress and bring relaxation, increased energy and feelings of peace and well being into your everyday life.
The following relaxation and stress reduction techniques require very little time or money, are easily accessible and will help you to remain loose, limber and loving life while you look forward to your next Surfers Paradise massage session.
1. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing has been shown to be one of the best ways to rapidly reduce stress in the body and achieve relaxation. It activates your natural relaxation response, encouraging your body to enter into a state of rest, which in turn helps to reverse the physical and emotional effects of stress. When you breathe deeply your heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases and your muscles relax. Deep breathing oxygenates your body more fully, which has a deep calming effect and at the same time can provide a boost to your energy levels. The good thing about practicing deep breathing exercises is that you can do them whenever and wherever you want. For a quick boost in the middle of your busy day (or anytime you find your stress levels rising), sit or stand up straight, take one slow deep breath in, hold it for a count of four, and then exhale fully, allowing your shoulders to drop and let out a deep sigh. Do this several times and I guarantee you will feel so much better.
Meditation has long been proven to help with relaxation and stress reduction. It is particularly helpful when you’re under a lot of stress. The great thing about meditation is that you can do it almost anywhere and at any time. What’s more, meditation can be really simple. You don’t need any special tools or a whole lot of time. Just find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed and where you can sit (or even lay) on level ground. Close your eyes, relax your muscles, and try to focus on your breathing, or on an object, a colour or a scene in your mind – perhaps you are sitting on a beautiful, peaceful beach in Hawaii, imagining that the rolling waves are washing away your stress (that’s my favourite). Doing meditation in this way for as little as 10-15 minutes each day will leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and clear of mind.
3. Yoga Practice
Exercise offers a wonderful and healthy way to relax and can really improve your mood. Yoga is one of the best forms of exercises for relaxation and stress management. Practiced properly and safely, Yoga poses and asanas will improve your flexibility, strength, stamina and balance. The slow, steady movements, mindful breathing, gentle focus and meditation that comprise modern day Yoga make it a powerful vehicle for good health and well being. Once you’ve learned even some basic sequences and routines you could practice alone in your own space, tailoring your sessions to fit into your busy schedule.
4. Swimming Laps
Swimming is another great form of exercise that gives you time to be alone with your thoughts (or an opportunity to let them go). Swimming also has the added benefit of releasing feel-good chemicals into the brain, which improves your mood. What’s more as swimming is a low-impact resistance and cardiovascular exercise, it can help you lose weight and strengthen muscles (not the least of which is your heart) and fight other health problems, ensuring that you have less to be stressed about. So consider taking some time out of your busy schedule to do a few laps in the pool to relax and re-energise. You could also try an aqua-aerobics class, which would have the added benefit of some social fun.
6. Walking Daily
Research indicates that just 30 minutes of exercise per day, such as walking, can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 40%, lower blood pressure, help to burn excess calories, improve asthma response, improve cholesterol, lower the risk of diabetes, and lead to lower stress, improved mood and a more efficient brain. Walking has also shown to ease anxiety by helping your brain release endorphins and by up-regulating your body’s ability to cope with stress. Walking is a particularly healthy way to clear your head and get energised at the same time. Going for a walk in the morning is a powerful way to start the day on a high and build positive momentum that can carry through the rest of the day.
6. Soaking in a Bath
Everything feels better after a long, hot soak in the tub! It is such an enjoyable and effective way to relax and relieve tired, sore muscles as well as calm the mind and emotions. To greatly increase the therapeutic benefits, add a cup or two of epsom salts or magnesium salt flakes to your bath water. Not only will it give the water a soft, silky feel but the minerals will absorb through your skin and relieve pain and tension in the muscles and also inflammation in the joints. Adding in some pure essential oils such as lavender and chamomile can intensify the relaxation experience, which could set you up nicely for a good night’s sleep if you have your bath before bed.
7. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
I probably should have put sleep at #1 because getting a good night’s sleep consistently every night (or at least most nights) is essential to good health and well being. In fact, it is so important that we will sleep away more than a third of our lives. Sleep time is when our bodies go into deep rest, repair and rejuvenation mode. If we don’t get enough quality sleep time, every system in our body can be thrown off balance (in particularly our hormones) and our stress levels can increase significantly, hindering our ability to function effectively on a physical, mental and emotional level.
Ways to get a better night sleep include; having a bath before bed, drinking relaxing herbal tea, staying off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed, and also ensuring that your bedroom is sufficiently dark. Also, the ideal time to go to bed is immediately when you feel that wave of sleepiness come over you (as opposed to a set time). Doing so will give you the best chance of falling asleep quickly, otherwise you’ll need to wait for the next ‘wave’.
I hope you’ve found these relaxation and stress-management tips helpful. They will certainly help to preserve the benefits of your massage sessions for longer, and help you lead a healthier lifestyle overall, which is what we all need to do if we want to enjoy and live our lives to the fullest.
Thanks so much for reading and we look forward to seeing you when you come in for your next massage in surfers paradise with me, whether that be for a lomi lomi, remedial massage, or pregnancy massage. Aloha!Share
About the Author:Tania Hodder is the Founder of Touch Of Aloha. She is a recognised Remedial Massage Therapist, Lomi Lomi Massage Instructor and Pregnancy Massage Specialist with more than 19 years experience. Tania is also a respected and sought after consultant to Spas throughout Australia and Internationally.