Finding the time to relax is so important - it offers amazing opportunities for your health! For those of us over 50, our life changes and evolves. It should be easier to take a deep breath and appreciate all the people we have come to know (and those we would like to forget) but above all, to be grateful for everything we have built in our life - so far of course cause as far as I'm concerned it ain't over until that women sings!
On the other hand, if you’ve spent most of your life stressed, relaxing may be more difficult than you thought. So, here are just some little tips to help how to slow down and relax which can decrease your blood pressure, make it easier to sleep, unwind any muscle tension, and even improve your digestion.
More than that, it can help you feel clearer in your thinking, happier, healthier and far more centered and grounded - and boy don't we need this these days!
So.. let's start to release some stress! Here are a few ways for you to try.
1. Focus on yourself now.
There are many ways to meditate. I'm just going to introduce a very simple one here. To begin meditating, find a quiet place where you’ll be undisturbed. Sit as upright as you comfortably can on the floor or a cushion but if you can't really - you can lie down with your head slightly raised or just relax on your favorite lounge chair. The idea is to try and avoid falling asleep but if you do... don't worry - it just means your body needed the rest.
Usually, a good meditation will take 20 minutes - but again, if this is your first time - don't worry if you can't hold it for 20 minutes. If you’d like, set a timer so you’re not tempted to interrupt your meditation to check the clock. You can try sitting in quiet stillness and repeat a mantra (preferably a word that ends in ummmm) or playing soothing music or nature sounds at a low volume.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to the present moment. Notice your breath and the sensation of your clothes against your skin. Observe any sounds or smells in your environment.
If you find yourself slipping back into anxious thinking—for example, worrying about a deadline or whether you added a certain item to the grocery list—it’s okay. Gently guide your thoughts back to the present.
When you’re done, ask yourself: Do I feel more composed? Less anxious? More grounded?
Don’t be surprised if you find it difficult at first to stay focused. Even 30 seconds of presence can be helpful, and it will get easier with practice.
2. Breathe well.
The body’s fight, flight or freeze response can be strong… and sometimes overactive.
When you’re under stress, cortisol is released into your bloodstream. Heartbeat and respiration increase, along with a host of other reactions that can make you feel nervous or unsettled.
Consciously slowing your breath can slow or halt these reactions. Add consciously relaxing your shoulder muscles and overall body tension to this too!
Slowing your breath injects space between the source of your stress and your reaction. This space allows you to consciously decide how to respond.
Deep breaths can also help release tension held in your chest, neck, shoulders and arms.
So when you feel anxious or sense a stress reaction coming on, pause and take a deep breath. Then release it slowly, drawing out the exhale for several seconds. Imagine the anxious thought, fear or frustration leaving your body with the breath.
Repeat this a few times until you feel more at peace. This exercise can actually be done anytime during the day - whilst you're cooking, gardening or doing the shopping.
3. Light a Scented Candle or Make bath salts or ....
Did you know that simple, repetitive movements can help you feel peaceful and may help to improve concentration or memory because it helps relax anxiety?
Repetitive tasks like crochet, knitting or even writing can help you find this sense of serenity. To get the benefits, choose a project that is relatively easy, like a simple blanket or scarf that has the same number of stitches per row or a letter to yourself.
If you are going to make something, choose a material color or texture that’s soothing and peaceful for you. Work in silence, perhaps with comforting music with a lit candle. Most of all, focus on the movements and repetition—not perfection. At the end, you'll have a lovely handicraft to show off or even give as a gift.
But, fragrance also helps improve moods. If you would rather something that involves fragrance, then mix some kitchen salts together with epson salts, add a few drops of your favourite essential oils and there you have it - a jar of truely beautiful bath salts that should certainly help you relax on your next bath.
Then again, if you want to do something even easier - light a candle. It's flickering lights adds warmth to any corner of a room and just watching the flame helps relax the mind. But.. make sure the candle is made with quality wax and fragrant oils. Here I can say proudly that the candles I make in very very small batches (to ensure freshness) are made with pure soy wax and Australian made fragrant oils that I blend myself. Take a look - www.ritapalma.com.au.
4. Shake or Dance it off.
Sometimes when you’re anxious or tense, the best thing to do is to shake it off—literally. Even if it involves music and some forgotten dance moves.
This method of stress relief derives from an ancient system called qi gong (pronounced chee·guhng) and can be especially helpful for jittery moments.
To start, stand with your feet about shoulder width and allow your arms to hang loosely at your sides.Then—start shaking. Emphasize the downward motion, almost as though you were trying to fling water off the ends of your fingers.
As you do it, visualize that you are shaking any stressful sensations or anxious thoughts out through your fingertips and feet. Do this for two or three minutes until you feel more grounded and calm.
5. Manage your consumption and no... not food although.. a little less sugar is always helpful too!
Even during the best of times, watching the news daily (which is rarely wonderful and uplifting) or constantly scrolling through social media can leave you feeling unsettled.
I'm not saying you should completely avoid the news - instead take conscious breaks and set reasonable limits for yourself. Perhaps follow it up with a comedy show or movie.
Try setting a timer for social media scrolling or news watching. When the timer goes off, be conscious of how you feel. If time on social media or the news tends to stress you out, it might be worth taking a longer sabbatical—say, a few days or more—to reset and relax.
We suggest curating what you read or watch to ensure you’re consuming positive and uplifting sources of media as much as possible. Look for good news and share what you find.
Finally, be conscious of when you’re consuming media. For example, if tension or anxiety affects your sleep, avoid news and social media in the evening and focus on more relaxing activities.
Keeping a positive and calm mindset can do wonders for relaxation, and in turn, your health and happiness.
So.. are you inspired to try any of these? Or do you already practice some of these tips? Let me know in the comments!