The GOOD Guide to Relaxing, Part One
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Sleep more. Getting some sleep is a surefire way to feel more relaxed during the day. Lack of sleep is linked to everything from moodiness to irritability, hypertension and a host of other emotional disorders. Setting serious sleep disorders aside, making a concerted effort to get more sleep will bring with it a more serene outlook.
Get your heart rate going. This might be sound like the opposite of relaxing, but exercise is one of the best stress-busters out there. Not only does it pump you full of endorphins—responsible for what some call the “runner’s high”—it’s a great way to release pent up energy. A recent study out of Princeton University found that, through running, rats created new brain neurons that were actually less susceptible to anxiety. In other words, excercise creates calmer minds.
Take a walk. Not only do walks come with many of the same benefits as other cardio exercise (depending how fast you move), they are always convenient and can offer the perfect break from a stressful day. Whether you work in the city, or from home, taking a twenty-minute stroll is an opportunity to clear the mind and focus on breathing—it can easily turn into meditation in motion.
Laugh more. Working more laughter into your day is a guaranteed way to reduce tension. Among the many ways a good laugh works on the body to soothe the mind is by stimulating organs and increasing endorphin production. It also helps with circulation and releases muscle tension and it kicks up your heart rate, leaving you more relaxed after.
Get a massage. A recent study of 53 participants at Cedar Sinai hospital in Los Angeles put an end to the mystery: Subjects wired for blood samples directly before and after receiving massages (either Swedish or light touch) showed sharp declines in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) as well as increases in oxytocin (the trust hormone).
Massage yourself. It sounds strange but many of the millions of Indians who ascribe to Ayurveda—an ancient holistic healing system similar to Chinese medicine—make this a daily ritual. Giving yourself a massage each morning can be the first step to a more relaxed disposition.