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.
Learn more about Hope
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Check out Hope’s feature on the 2x Emmy Nominated Show STARTUP on PBS, Amazon Prime, World Network, and Create Network
When I was in teacher training and a woman burst into tears during bridge pose and couldn’t stop flowing. I watched from the back of the room as the instructor calmly came over to soothe her. The instructor let her know that this happens and some poses that open the heart can do that. At that moment, I felt relief. Crying was okay in yoga.
Yoga works on a multitude of levels: physical, emotional, energetic.
One of yoga’s secrets, documented in research from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation near Bangalore, is that more active practices followed by relaxing ones lead to deeper relaxation than relaxing practices alone. – Yoga Journal
For many of us, stress has become as common as drinking coffee. I know I have been in a position where I didn’t know what it was like to live in an environment that wasn’t anything but stress. We think we are “relaxing” with things like constant screen time, loud music, and high-intensity exercise. It all needs to be balanced with restorative or relaxing practices or we leave ourselves out of balance.
If coming to your yoga mat, you find yourself dripping a few tears, please know it’s OK.
If you are ever in my yoga room, it’s encouraged! Even when I’m teaching, I will get a wave of emotion and find myself dripping a few tears.
Yoga is about seeking an internal state of homeostasis, and that may mean that you are asked to breathe for five minutes on your mat. It may even require you to stay in a pose that makes your skin crawl.
Yoga really, truly is about balance. If you continue to seek it, it will help you create the balance you have been searching for. A few tears along the way doesn’t hurt.
The Benefits of Yoga on the Parasympathetic Nervous System
The Scientific Basis of Yoga Therapy
Have you ever been told to “take a deep breath” when something in your life has caused you to feel frustrated or overwhelmed? Chances are, you have. If you haven’t, you’ve definitely given this advice to someone else at some point or another. But why?
Stress in Life
With the ever-increasing demands and challenges in our daily lives, it’s easy to see why many of us suffer from high levels of stress. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones in the body that spark the “fight or flight” response. This response triggers the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or flee to a safer place.
To deal with the stressors in our daily lives, many of us turn to things such as alcohol, food, exercise, or television shows to distract us. Why? Well, the answer is pretty simple–we don’t seem to have the proper tools or knowledge to be able to manage stress more effectively. And because breathing happens naturally, many of us don’t give the concept of breathing much attention.
However, breathing slowly and deeply can create a relaxation response within the body. Breathing exercises bring life back into your thirsty body, mind, and soul. It cleanses you, relaxes you, and it makes you whole.
What is F.O.R. Peace Breathing?
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing was introduced to me when I first started on my yoga journey. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t complicated, and it didn’t require any equipment. All it needed was you and your willingness to step back and breathe.
When you stop and take a breath in a stressful situation, you stop the hormones released by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and start to live again. It is a simple tool that you can use every single day to prevent and release stress when it starts to bubble up.
Steps of F.O.R. Peace Breathing
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing un-complicates what our minds often make complicated. It makes you STOP and use the tool you were born with to deal with stress in your life.
What Does “F.O.R.” in Peace Breathing Stand For?
Focus on one, long, deep breath. Inhale deeply, feeling your diaphragm and belly expand (not your chest). Exhale through your nose or mouth for the same count, or longer. Be fully conscious of this breath.
Observe your mind. Does it wander during this breath? Where does it go? Can you try again to be right here, right now?
Refocus if you need to. Bring your mind back to your breath. If your mind wanders, return to one deep breath.
The next time that you are feeling stressed, uncertain, foggy minded, and in desperate need of relaxation, Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and take a breath. You will be thankful you did!
Today, I will Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and enjoy the power of my breath. I encourage you to join me, friends. What can it hurt?
If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the power of your breath, check out these resources:
Meditations for Stress Relief
5 Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like A Mess
Savasana, the final pose of yoga is the most important. Are you missing the boat? Or should I say relaxation?
I have had the honor of coming to the yoga mat for almost 20 years, and 17 of which I have been guiding others from their first pose to relaxation.
And it has most definitely happened on more than one occasion that students skip out on Savasana. Some are very clear that they need to leave to get their kid from school or to hit a deadline and I am happy that they at least made time.
But there have been a few occasions where the student could not handle such a pose and as a result, left. But acted as though they were late for something, or continued to roll around and strike a pose at the back of the room while the rest of the yoga class soaked up some Zzzz yoga style.
Well, I should probably explain to my non-yoga readers that Savasana is a fancy Sanskrit word for relaxation or corpse pose. Which I would say is both the easiest pose of class and at the same time the most difficult.
You will often hear me encourage my students minutes prior to Savasana that this pose, relaxation is the final pose of yoga. It is what we prepare for the entire 60, 75, or 90 minutes. Post that, is meditation.
Yoga itself is a bit of a challenge in that it confronts our insecurities, our weaknesses, our strengths, our anxieties. And if we are not attentive to it, we simply ignore them and find ways to work around such challenges in-order to say safe and say comfortable.
But yoga is “comfortably uncomfortable” as I like to say mid-way through a pose that to my students appears to never end. And how we treat the yoga poses. How we act and react on the mat is a complete mirror for our everyday life.
In my experience, many of my type-A students often gravitate initially to the faster-paced yoga classes. The ones that on the surface, in the description appear more difficult.
While their counterparts often gravitate towards the slower styles, and classes where moving and grooving isn’t in the glamorous description.
It could very well be a torture chamber to request my type-A students to attend a Yin style yoga or slow style yoga with a ten-minute relaxation. By minute 60 there might not be anyone left in the room.
But here’s the thing. We all need to chill out. Not fake chill out. Not relax with our phone scrolling Facebook aimlessly. Not huffing and puffing trying to keep up with a flow that does not exactly scream soothing and calming, and then skipping out on the relaxation part because it seems “pointless”.
I was that person. Anxious, busy, rigid. And laying around made me fidgety beyond normal comparison.
But for some odd reason, I stuck with yoga. I began to learn that my anxious state on the mat was a complete mirror for how I was behaving off the mat.
My restlessness, my need to keep moving and “not feel” was the same way I was approaching life. The need to push, stress, and basically kill myself in class to call it a success were the exact unrealistic standards I was holding myself to in my life.
And relaxation. Don’t even get me started. I had more anxiety about it than my students at times. And watching them lay quietly I was the one restless, anxious about whether or not they were anxious, bored, and disliking the moment they were in.
But I learned. I learned along with my students about the importance of this pose as well as a deeper insight into my yoga style choices per my current personality and life challenges.
Savasana should offer you, your body, and your mind an opportunity to fully unwind. To experience a complete surrender of the physical body. See the class was meant to exhaust you. Not like too hard to keep up exhaust you. But challenge you in every way, shape, and form.
Keep your mind focused. Challenged. Nurtured.
Keep your body working, opening, reaching, strengthening, trying both new and familiar things to help you step outside your comfort zone.
Long story short, for many they struggle with allowing their bodies and minds the opportunity to reset the central nervous system. That of which Savasana can and does play a huge part in.
I (tried) to run track in high school and one thing the coach always said was “do not forget to do your cool down, do not just stop after you cross the finish line, keep walking”.
Why? Because that abrupt stop is stressful and confusing for the body.
Leaving prior to Savasana. Or not allowing yourself to fully reap the benefits of it is like giving a kid a sucker and just before the tootsie center, taking it away. How rude!
So why Savasana your way to bliss after your yoga session?
- It removes fatigue
- Calms the central nervous system
- Brings clarity to the mind
- Brings emotional balance
- Promotes deep healing
- Cultivates an energetic connection
- Restores and resets the physical body post-movement
- Offers self-reflection
- Lowers the heart rate
- Lowers the body temperature
- Replenishes vital energy in the body
- It is a mini-vacation or relaxation
- This is the pose that connects your entire practice together
The most precious thing in the world which is missing these days is relaxation Yogi Bhajan
Preparing for a Proper Savasana
Take advantage of having a captive audience for 45+ minutes prior to relaxation and prepare your students for what is going to eventually happen. Encourage them of the benefits. To work hard, or breathe now so they can fully benefit later.
I often equate relaxation to sleep. “Skip it too many times and you’re dying at work or dragging trying to keep up your normal groove. Why is it we skimp on the most important aspects of life? Of yoga?”
Spend 1-5 minutes of floor work preparing the body for relaxation. Sitting or supine poses, movements or even breathing exercises to help them wind down.
Offer them a focus or intention. Or even guide them through a short relaxation for the body to soften even more. But it will also aid the mind in wandering and causing frustration.
How Long Should Relaxation Be?
It is a vast debate as to how long relaxation should be. And depending on the style you are teaching or practicing. The teacher, even the location (gym VS yoga studio) the length of time will and can drastically vary. And it is in my experience that at least 10% of the class’s total time could be considered dedicated to relaxation.
- 60 minute yoga session = 6 minute Savasana
- 75 minute yoga session = 7-8 minute
- 90 minute yoga session = 9 minute
Now that might not work for your current demographic and in some cases, it has been my experience that as the teacher you may need to work them up to such a time block.
Customize Your Savasana:
Hopefully, you have already ensured there is enough room for each yoga mat, and the person attached to it in class.
And if it is a yoga class you are relaxing to, then chances are the mood and energy is already set up for such a pose. But if you are considering adding in a little Savasana to another style class or practice then here are a few tips to enhance the experience even more.
Tips to help everyone present relax a little more.
- Invite the class to stay for relaxation.
- Let them know exactly how long it will be.
- Ensure them this will not take away from what comes next in life, but enhance it.
- Dim the lights or turn them off.
- Cue students as to where their body parts should go.
- Decide the room set up: legs up the wall, students on belly, back, side, support, etc.
- Invite students to check in with their breath
- Reassure students that the mind wandering is normal and the power is in the practice of continuing to come back to the stillness on the mat.
- Speak in a language that students can understand. Meet them where they are and guide them by hand as to where you want them to go.
Yoga can be a perfect package. It is important to remember that it has to potential to lead the mind, restore the body, and open the soul. And in my experience, I have learned that when you remove a piece of the pie for no other reason than it makes you uncomfortable. Or you don’t like it, the pie just won’t taste right. The benefits may not be at their fullest potential.
So I want to encourage you that if someone offers you time to just be, to relax and lay like a corpse. Do it.
And the clarity, rejuvenation, and sense of restoration you will receive thereafter is truly what you will bring home to your family and loved ones.
Smelly, stuffy office air, back pain, focus & concentration are real concerns. Most people seldom truly solve these problems, they just find temporary relief. But here’s the great thing!
Essential oils are an amazing way to boost immunity, de-stress, clear the air (literally), and YES, help ditch that nagging neck or backache.
What if one essential oil could make all the difference? Here are Essential Oils to get you through any situation at work:
Work can sometimes be less than pleasant, especially when you have deadlines and other people to please. Help curb that stressful environment RIGHT NOW with essential oils.
Suggested Essential Oils for Calming & Stress Relief:
- Stress Away (a Young Living Blend)
- Peace & Calming (a Young Living Blend)
- Citrus, Lemon, Lime
2. Stinky Smell
That smell. You know the one that is always lingering, and you just can’t figure out where it’s coming from, but it’s there and less than pleasant. Or maybe it’s (gulp) a co-worker, the frig, or a neighboring business. No matter what, smells can interact with our ability to focus and concentrate. Let essential oils help.
Suggested Essential Oils for Cleaning the Air:
- Thieves (a Young Living Blend)
- Tea Tree
3. Sad Sally/ A Case of the Mondays
As much as we want to love life every day, and keep the positive vibe going. Some days are just harder than others. The right aromatherapy and oils can aid in boosting your mood and helping the day to feel a bit brighter.
Suggested Aromatherapy for Mood Boosting:
- Stress Away (Young Living Bend)
- Ylang Ylang
Maybe it was the softball game over the weekend, or the fall you accidentally took outside the front door, or all that sitting you have been doing. Your body hurts. And that will impact your work production if not addressed. Applying essential oils is a great way to kick that nagging pain to the curb.
Suggested Essential Oils for Pain Relief:
- Balsam Fir
- PanAway (Young Living Blend)
- Deep Relief (Young Living Blend)
Adding essential oils into your work routine is an easy and effective way to boost your work environment and feel more like yourself.
The best part: when you use them, everyone benefits. What if one oil could make all the difference?
How about you? Do you use essential oils at work?
Please share in the comments section below!
Learn about diffusing and personal application contact Hope directly for a private presentation. How not all essential oils are created equal.
Or how to get essential oils for your own use-contact Hope!