We make time for physical training, but what about our relaxation training?
One of the best things you can do for yourself, is to relax and get some good quality sleep in the time you have available to you. Modern life is stressful with huge demands to share our time across work, family our homes and making time to be with friends. Technology gives us a window into each others lives and makes us feel like we should be out doing what they are doing. We feel the fear of missing out.
When time is limited, the desire to make the most of every spare moment is greater which can then add pressure on the need itself. Unbelievably, spare time can even be cause of stress.
It takes discipline to relax fully, switch off from work and resist the urge to scroll through the various apps on our devices, all of the time keeping ourselves occupied. Even prolonged low level stress such as not enough sleep can take its toll and the effects can be so gradual that you don’t even realise it.
Sometimes it is important to take a step back and know that the best use of those spare moments is to spend it on yourself. But this can take practise, however there are benefits of relaxation training for everyone.
Read my top tips to start your relaxation training
1.Make your bathroom your own personal spa
Dim the light and run a bath. Add some sea salt and if you have some, then magnesium. I often buy a box of sea salt with the food shopping as it is so much cheaper than the salts that are labelled for the bath. Then add some drops of your favorite essential oils. I choose lavender for relaxation and rosemary to ease headaches and improve clarity. If you live by the sea, you can even make your own seaweed bath. Ease into the warm water and sit back for 20 minutes.
2.Massage swaps with your partner
Ideally we would be able to go and see our favourite therapist every month to have a massage and release some tension. However our budget or home life doesn’t always stretch to this.
My husband and I now make an agreement for ’10 minute massages’ – we set a timer and promise that time to each other. This is essentially so one of us doesn’t receive a shorter massage than the other! But in all seriousness, taking this time is positive for our relationship and something easy that we can do for each other.
3.Pay attention to those aches
I hold tension in my left shoulder, which is usually when I request that we do ’10-minute massages’. It is important to pay attention to those aches, as one area of tension will link to another to create a complete chain throughout your body. You may find that one area of tension which seems unrelated is responsible for a niggle elsewhere.
When there is no one there to give you a massage, take time to do some stretches, or use a foam roller or tennis ball to attend to your tension points.
4.Have some go-to products at hand
Always have some products for relaxation training at home. I currently have two products from Neals Yard to use for massage, one is a lovely oil which has a spa-like smell (they have several to choose from) and the other is called Warming Salve. I love the salve as it is much easier to control that the oil – less risk of dripping onto my favourite slippers and so perfect for the 10-minute massages above.
The beauty of these products is that once you develop the association between a certain smell and relaxation, then you can take a moment to stop and breath in the aroma for a quick relaxation fix.
If I’m feeling particularly sore or tense then I’ve recently found Mussleflex Gel. It has a deep heat effect which makes you feel like it is doing you some good. I definitely recommend it for massage post intense exercise. The gel contains elements from Green Lipped Mussels which are only found in New Zealand as the extract has been found to be naturally anti inflammatory.
5.Reduce caffeine intake
This is my least favourite tip as I love coffee. But it is easy not to pay attention to how much caffeine we consume in a day. We question if we are feeling tired, but we really should be feeling ready to relax when the sun goes down.
Don’t forget that some other drinks include caffeine and that tea has a similar amount of caffeine to coffee, even decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine.
I’m not saying give up coffee, but cut down and try to substitute some of those cups with an alternative. Try herbal teas or something like Barley Cup for that hot milky drink flavour.
6.Occasionally say no
Finally, it is important to maintain relationships with our friends and even work colleagues when we are asked out to do something social. This can be so hard as we don’t want to say no or feel we can’t because of the risk of upsetting people. But for your own wellbeing, take time to recognise when you need to say no. Those relationships will be there for you another time and by reducing your stress by saying no this time, you will have the energy to give them the care and attention that you really want to give next time. They may even be glad of the time they can spend on their own relaxation training!