We all need time and space to relax in life. If we spend too much time working hard and pushing our limits, our mental health can start to suffer, and that’s not something you ever want to experience. We’re going to talk today about some of the best relaxation methods you can start to use if you’re going to aid your mental health going forward. So read on to find out all about the best options.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you haven’t heard of progressive muscle relaxation before, it’s an approach to relaxation that involves the tensing of the muscles in coordination with breathing. You tense certain muscle groups as you breathe in and then relax them as you breathe out. And you do this over and over as you focus on your muscles and your breathing and nothing else. It can help you relax.
Learn Meditation Techniques
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind of any worries and concerns and focus on breathing or nothing at all. It’s a great benefit to your mental health and something you should take the time to explore and learn more about if you never have before. There are also lots of different types of meditation, so there’s sure to be one out there that appeals to you in some way.
Some people find it very relaxing to use a technique known as visualization. As the name suggests, this is when you take the time to visualize something positive, something happy, or something that you’re working towards. Seeing it and believing it can be uplifting and helpful when you’re in a stressful situation and want some momentary escape.
Find the Right Relaxing Herbs
There are lots of herbs and plants out there that are known to relax us in a variety of different ways. Lavender is one perfect example, and you can find all kinds of lavender products, from bath to sleep products, that are known to help us relax. On the other end of the spectrum, and depending on their legality in your location, there are cannabis products such as cannabis seeds, CBD, and plenty others that people use to help them relax. Like anything, make sure you do your research before you buy any CBD product as the quality can vary vastly.
When you’re practicing yoga, you’re getting a physical workout, but many people do it for the mental health benefits it brings. Yoga is 1% asana and 99% everything else- LIFE! If you haven’t yet given yoga a go, that’s something that you should probably seek to change. It can be one of the best ways to help you relax and focus on nothing at all. And don’t stress, there are dozens of styles, methods, teachers, and approaches, if you try one and it’s not your cup of tea, then go out and try another.
Now you know all about some of the best and most effective ways of relaxing and taking care of your mental health. All you need to do is start making the most of them. Try them out and see which of them work best for you. After all, each of us is different and different options work for us. Trial and error help a lot here.
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Mental health refers to your overall wellbeing. It also includes the way that you perceive yourself, your relationships and even how you deal with difficulties. At the end of the day, anyone can experience mental health or even emotional problems, and most people will, but if you feel as though you could do with a real pick-me-up, then this is the guide for you.
Make A Social Connection
Phone calls and social media have their place in our lives, but not many things can beat the mood-boosting power that comes with having face-to-face time with other people.
Staying active is incredibly good for the brain and it is also good for the body as well. Regular exercise can have a huge impact on your mental health as well as your emotional health too. As if that wasn’t enough, it can also help you to improve your memory and your sleeping routine. If you find it hard to stay active because you have no interest in working out, then it is more than possible for you to try and get into sports instead. Sporting activities are great if you want to get moving and they are fun too. If you don’t really like sports then try and watch the occasional match on television, and look up rugby scores. This can help you to bond with a particular team, and it is a great conversation starter with friends.
Talk it Out
Talk to a friendly face if you can. Social interactions are really one of the best ways for you to calm down your nervous system and they can also help you to relieve stress too. If you talk it out with someone then you get things off your chest and you may even find that it helps you to deal with situations better in the future.
Appeal to your Senses
Does listening to a great song help you to feel calm? Maybe squeezing a stress ball helps you to feel somewhat centered. Either way, you need to do whatever helps you to take things down a notch. Everyone responds to sensory input differently, so you need to try and find out what works for you if you can. If you can do this, then you will soon find that things work in your favor.
Make Leisure your Priority
Leisure time is necessary for your mental health as well as your emotional health. It’s so important that you take the time to relax and then contemplate all of the positive things that are going on in your day. Make the effort to notice the small things if you can, because you can then reflect on them later if you feel as though your mood is in need of a boost.
Eat a Good Diet
Another thing that you need to do is try and eat a good diet. You have to make sure that you are doing what you can to support your immune system and also eat brain foods too. If you can do this, then you will soon find that you can rocket your mental health.
Meditation is so beneficial for your mental and spiritual health, but many people find it daunting. The idea of sitting quietly and focusing on your breath without any outside distractions can seem quite alien to us because we live in a world that is filled with constant stimulation.
Meditation is a skill that you have to learn, and holding your focus without being distracted can be difficult, which is why many people give up after a few sessions.
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However, there are a few simple ways that you can improve your focus while meditating.
Choose A Focus For Your Meditation
The first thing to consider is what you want your focus to be.
There are lots of different meditation styles, each focusing your attention on something different. You can meditate on the breath, sounds, or even an object like a candle flame. Having a specific aspect of your life to focus on during meditation also gives you more direction. For example, focusing on gratitude is a great way to channel your meditation and see tangible results at the end.
Try CBD Oil
Research has shown that CBD oil can help you stay calm and focused throughout the day. If you suffer from anxiety or hyperactivity, CBD oil could be a good solution for your problems. People often find meditation hard because they cannot quiet their minds, and their anxieties get in the way. But if you use some CBD oil before your session, it can relax your mind and body and help you stay focused a lot better.
Start With Short Sessions
Meditation can be challenging because you are not used to being still and quiet for long periods of time. But when done correctly meditations are a simple way to improve focus and relieve stress.
But as meditation enthusiasts will no doubt tell you, the benefits outweigh the difficulties by far. One of the best things that beginners can do is start with short sessions and slowly build up. Start with five or ten minutes per session before gradually increasing the time.
Another option is to meditate at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit. Once you’re used to meditating, you will often find your mind wandering less and less, making meditation much easier.
Use Guided Meditation Videos
One of the best ways to learn meditation is using guided meditation videos because they do all the hard work.
Many people think that meditation has to be done in silence, but this isn’t true. You can use a guide, and this helps with your focus and also helps your mind relax. If you’re struggling with finding peace to meditate, then guided meditation videos can be a great option for you. You can find loads of great free ones on Youtube, and there are some great apps like Headspace that can help too. And don’t forget on HopeZvara.com we have customized meditations available and ready to download just for you.
Follow these simple steps, and you will see an improvement in your focus when meditating. It might not happen overnight, but if you stick with it, you’ll soon find that the length of time you spend focused during meditation increases, which leads to the benefits.
Your health is the key to your confidence. If you are looking after your health in the best possible way, you will feel at your best. Many people don’t understand this, which is why they are currently not leading a healthy lifestyle or feeling confident in themselves. In this article, we’re going to be looking at how you can take care of your health, enhancing your confidence in the process. We wish you the very best of luck.
The first thing that you will need to do is to ensure that you are completing a good amount of exercise. The last thing that you want is to be a couch potato. There is nothing worse, and your muscles are only going to weaken over time. Eventually, you’re not going to be able to use them in the way you once were, and you may even need physiotherapy to get back some of the function in them. So today, get up and get moving, who cares how, you will be so glad you did.
You don’t have to head out and join a gym at this point, but you can go for walks, go swimming, practice yoga start running, or join a gym if you want to. You have plenty of options for how you can get your exercise, so don’t feel as though there is only one way to do this.
You should also be thinking about the food that you are consuming. Not just what you are eating, but how much of it you are eating. You need to understand that even if you are eating healthy food, too much of it is bad for you. That’s why you shouldn’t sit there and eat three or four apples at a time (that’s craziness, and more does not equal better). You should only be eating the right amount for yourself, learn to listen to your body, ensuring that you get all the vitamins and nutrients you need.
If you’re not sure how to cook well for healthy food, there are plenty of recipes online that will help you out here. Don’t let not knowing get in the way of you eating healthy. Start simple, and start small.
Finally, you might need a little extra help depending on what will help with your confidence. If it is weight loss, then you may want to consider surgery in the form of gastric lap band surgery. This helps you lose weight, and when you are all healed, you’re going to feel like a new person. If you need extra help with some other area of your health, then you might want to speak to a personal trainer.
We hope you have found this article helpful and now see some of the things you can do to get your confidence back. A lot of people don’t understand that their health is the key to their confidence, and that is what they need to work on. When this happens, all kinds of areas are going to be improved. Your confidence is one of them. We wish you the very best of luck and hope that you will take this advice.
Take a breath….
Breathing is one of those things we all do, yet we rarely think about it; when a system like the respiratory works without us having to think about it or make it happen, it’s called “involuntary.” The respiratory system has the unique ability to work all on its own without our help, unlike the muscular system, which works voluntarily.
This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a perfect time to tune in and tap into how powerful our breath actually is.
When we breathe, we get this precious gift called life. We can survive 21 days without food, seven days without water but can only go one to three minutes without oxygen. And at the 60-second mark, brain cells are already dying. Yet after 20 years of teaching yoga to others, there is one thing I have come to find, many do not like to breathe. I would often notice few would appreciate the art of breathing practices (pranayama) in yoga. You could see people start to fidget, become distracted, and even get annoyed at the idea that they weren’t “doing anything” during their yoga class. Yet without the ability to breathe, nothing on the yoga mat would even be possible.
Breathing is a tool. Those that learn to harness the device and tap into its vast abilities to improve, help and even heal the body get to reap the benefits of increased vitality, health, and happiness. But time and time again, I have observed others choose pills, alcohol, and even violence to manage what we all call stress or our emotions rather than tap into this tool we are all born with and have access to us at any given time.
Stress can alter just about any system in the body if we allow it to.
- Raise our blood pressure
- Increase our heart rate
- Increase our body temperature
- Leave us in physical pain
- Can decrease our immune system
- Give us stomach discomfort
- Make it difficult to sleep
- Can affect your libido
- Tense your muscles
- Cause weight gain
- Burden your nervous system
- Leave shallow breathing
When is the last time you felt the effects of any of the above and thought you should practice deep breathing?
When my oldest son was small, and he’d get stressed out, the first thing I would have him do is deep breathing. Three deep breaths, I’d say, and we’d do them together. He’s now nearly a teenager, and I have observed him repeatedly defaulting to deep breathing when he is stressed, angry, frustrated, or can’t sleep. He automatically uses this incredible tool we all walk around with every day but rarely tap use voluntarily.
The average American breathes with less than 18% of their lung capacity. That’s what I like to call clavicle breathing. It’s no wonder we are a stressed-out, upset, unhealthy out of touch society. I say these are the very things I have felt before yoga and learning how to tap into my breathing. And the same things I think when I’m not in my body, using my breathing, and feeling grounded in my skin.
How do we breathe?
The average person takes about ten breaths per minute; that’s an average of 22,000-24,000 breaths per day. That’s a lot of breathing. And when we breathe, we inhale necessary oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and toxins that our body wants to remove. When we breathe, our lungs expand and take in air, and our diaphragm lowers and expands as well, taking in oxygen to then be distributed out to the millions of cells throughout our body that need that fresh oxygen to live.
Dr. James Hoyt, a pulmonologist, says, “Our respiratory muscles don’t have the luxury of being out of shape.” Yet how many people can say with certainty that they use them, work them, build them like their bicep regularly? There is a saying, “use it or lose it,” and it fits here with our breathing.
A recent study in the Journal of Neurophysiology may support this, revealing that several brain regions linked to emotion, attention, and body awareness are activated when we pay attention to our breath.
And, also nearly every system in the body is connected to our respiratory system or breathing.
- Our metabolism increases when we practice deep breathing.
- Our autonomic nervous system regulates when we deep breathe.
- Our digestion can settle and improve when deep breathing.
- Our muscles relax and get total oxygen, helping them not to cramp.
- Our lymphatic systems become stimulated, hand and hand, with our immune system, both stimulated when we breathe.
- Our body is fully oxygenated when we deep breathe.
And one of our deep breathing’s most impressive features is that it stimulates our vegas nerve.
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves, extending from the brainstem to the abdomen through multiple organs, including the heart, esophagus, and lungs. It controls the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which contains your relaxation response. Most people never breathe deep enough to stimulate this impressive nerve. We need the vagus nerve to be alive and working because the vagus nerve controls your mood, heart rate, digestion, and immune response. Stimulating your vagus nerve can help to regulate many functions in your body.
Vagus nerve stimulation has been linked to treating epilepsy, improving digestive conditions, reducing inflammation, and managing anxiety disorders. The journal Frontiers in Neuroscience reported in 2018 that the poor function of the vagus nerve could lead to mood and anxiety disorders. But most importantly, when you stimulate the vagus nerve, you can reduce anxiety, stress, and mood disorders. All of this can happen when you learn to breathe more deeply and more often.
WAKE UP, PEOPLE! BREATHING IS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where does your breathing fall?
Clavicle Breathers: Those that breathe only into the upper chest, throat, and shoulders. These breathers often have lifted shoulders and a tense neck.
Chest Breathers: Those that breathe into the center of the chest.
Abdominal Breathers: Those that breathe deep into the belly and feel their lungs and abdomen expand freely.
We have forgotten our unique ability to help and heal ourselves. When you were a baby, no one had to tell you how to breathe, yet there you were, breathing so deeply that your entire torso was expanding and contracting every breath you took. I have listened and watched my children as infants, and now adolescents get upset and even cry only to default to their breathing to calm them down. It’s in you; you have done it; you have just forgotten how to do it.
Deep Abdominal Breathing Technique:
- Sitting tall or lying down comfortably, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart/chest.
- Exhale completely through your mouth and hear your breath move out of your body.
- Inhale through your nose and move your breath deeply into your lower hand (belly) and feel it expand. Continue to move your breath up to notice your upper hand (chest) rise.
- Exhale slowly move the air out, feeling your belly collapse and your chest lower (in any order).
- Soften your jaw and relax your body, focus on fully emptying your belly when you exhale and fully expanding when you inhale.
- Work yourself up towards a count of four counts on the inhale and eight on the exhale.
- Repeat this for two to five minutes.
- Anytime your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing.
- Allow yourself to hear your breath each time you inhale and exhale.
Continue this practice daily in the morning to wake up, when you are feeling stressed, waiting in traffic (minus the hands-on your body), or before you go to sleep to help you relax.
You have tools to help you breathe, relax, fall asleep. The real question is, are you using them?
Deep Abdominal Breathing Benefits:
Various deep abdominal breathing forms have been linked to cardiovascular benefits, including increased blood flow and improved blood pressure. Deep breathing is also a helpful tool for relaxation and sleep. Taking deep breaths can also help you manage stress and improve cognitive function like brain fog and lack of focus and concentration.
If every tool you are reaching for is outside of yourself, let me ask you, have you tried the tools you were born with? The tools you were given and are the very tools that make this life possible? The tool I am talking about is your breathing.
For one week, practice deep abdominal breathing at least one time a day. Work to practice it at the same time each day. Set the alarm on your phone or in your calendar and make it a priority. All too often, we say something doesn’t work or help, and we have never really tried it, let alone given it the attention required to see results.
After seven days, come back and let us know how you did. What changed, what you noticed or found.
Now take a deep breath and start living!
Today marks 13 years that you’ve been gone. So much has changed and yet so much hasn’t. Yesterday I found myself thinking about the day before I knew you in person and the horrible feeling I had knowing that you were not going to stay. That sick feeling, I had that this little miracle everyone talks about, that “little blessing” that was supposed to be greeted with open arms and smiles was not going to be happening.
Each year that goes by and you are gone just a little bit longer creates a slightly larger space that worries me. I worry that I will somehow forget that feeling and it will be like it never happened which means it would be like you never happened. But as your one day on earth approaches each year I am reminded how that is just not the case. That sick feeling is easily remembered how your life was not meant to be. The sick joke that was played on your Papa and me just months into our marriage-the happiest time in our lives together was robbed along with the happy experience of our first newborn baby being brought into our lives.
You forever changed me, Faith. You forever made my life even more different than everyone else’s. And what I wouldn’t give to get you back for just five more minutes. I hope you knew it was us who were holding you that day, I hope you knew we didn’t choose this for you, and although we were in shock when we first found out you were coming, that shock was not warranting an outcome like the one that happened.
You changed me Faith, that hollowed out feeling the night I went home from the hospital, empty and alone. And those weeks after you were gone I cried so much I eventually became numb, I thought I’d never feel again. You changed me Faith, you changed me.
Since you’ve been gone we’ve brought in three amazing children into this world, and because of you I can’t imagine my life without them, but that still doesn’t take the place of missing you. Just writing those words I am choking down my tears and my vision is blurred by welling tear ducts. You changed me, Faith.
I thought surviving a life-sucking eating disorder was the worst I’d ever endure. And I have to be honest, I was wrong. Your short life was a rip-off, a cruel joke on two young soulmates who would have loved you and given you nothing short of a backyard campfire, dirty feet, self-exploration, be your own personal childhood experience. You would have loved us as parents. It was a rip-off.
Still, to this day I watch others race to have babies, act like pregnancy is crappy, and moan about getting rid of their pregnancy body to “get back to normal”, and to those people I say, “you are missing the point.” Don’t chance fate and take for granted a healthy baby, the amazing miracle of bringing a baby into this world, and the privilege you get to become a parent to then raise those children. Your Papa and I will never know the joys of having a first born baby, and to be honest, it took until having your sister Meredith to get rid of the numbness and until Ivan to actually not relive in my mind the experience of having you.
But you changed me, Faith, because of you I am now stronger than before. I was able to prove to myself and others that I could forge into recovery fully and you gave me a reason to take even better care of my body and cherish my life and every life I bring into this world.
You changed me Faith, I now connect with yet another group of people, I get them, I know what they are feeling and I can help yet another group of people.
You changed me Faith, because of you I see life differently, I see sunrises, rainbows, and butterflies differently. Harper, Meredith, and Ivan look forward to your presence when they see a butterfly circling us-they jump for joy and yell to the trees that Faith is here. You changed me Faith, you changed your entire family that we see life and creation in a way only those that have held their baby in their arms and watched that little life leave earth can know.
You changed me Faith, each year on your “life day” I am reminded that I am a strong ass woman, that you gave up your life so I could have one, a debt that I will forever on this earth be repaying. A debt that I will die trying to repay. I don’t know if I can or will ever be able to be as selfless as you, as giving as you, as humble as you.
Many days I feel like life just isn’t’ getting me, that God just isn’t hearing my prayers, my dreams, my goals. There are so many days that I feel like people still just don’t get me, that they just don’t understand. And today as I write this letter to you I have come to realize that many never will. And I will waste much of my precious time trying to get them to. I know you get me, I know that you know my heart, my dreams, that you hear my prayers.
Today I am crying for you, not because you are gone, but because you gave me life.
I know that you’re here, and just last week we saw you for the first time in the back yard. Meredith squealed with joy as you danced with her in the grass.
You changed me Faith, I’m not a mother of three, but a mother of four. And although I never got to see you take your first steps, say your first words, ride a bike or one day, drive a car, graduate, get married and maybe even have a baby one day. All those things aren’t necessary to have made you real, to prove you existed. I grew you in my belly, I was your only life line, I felt your little heart beat to its last beat.
To everyone reading this today, please know I need no sympathy. To those reading this today that have lost a child, that have watched an innocent child leave this earth-it does get better. Some wounds never heal and I think some just aren’t meant to, but you can choose to use your child’s life to bring more life to others. I choose to believe that my daughter chose this life, she chose this path and me too. Today if this message touches even just one person then that is one less person that has to be stuck in grieving longer than necessary. One less person that feels like they can’t move on.
I still remember the first time I told a family member that I am trying to “move on”. They didn’t get me or what had happened from my perspective and told me “well you don’t’ just forget about her”. I still remember yelling at her in my head, like “are you kidding me!?!!?!… How could I?” So to all those out there trying to be a support to someone experiencing loss, just be a shoulder, let them know you are there, they most likely don’t want to hear about your passing Grandma or your lost dog. They don’t want to be told it will get better, or how sorry you are. They just want to have support, they want to have a shoulder without a mouth, and when they are ready they will talk, they will reach out, and when they do you’ll be there.
We received dozens of cards those first few weeks, and of the dozens, I kept only a few, and of those were two unexpected cards from two people who briefly shared their loss of their child. I re-read those cards several times, reading those helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, reading those cards helped me feel that someone out there did understand exactly what I was going through. So to those reading this, I get it, I’ve felt the heartache, I’ve felt the unbearable emptiness, I’ve experienced the fits of rage, anger, and hostility, and I’ve felt every tear you have cried as my own. I get it and I’m here. You’re not alone. Please know this. You will survive and you will find happiness again. Just know it will be a different happiness than what you have felt before-and that is O.K.
Happy 13th life day Faith…
That’s all I have to say… Until next year… I’ll be seeing you in the sky.