Picture the perfect day of relaxation, free of the myriad everyday demands made from your professional and personal life. While taking a break sounds wonderful, does this type of relaxation actually help you manage stress?
While giving your brain a breather is certainly important, it’s just as important to work on everyday stressors, whether they are work related, personal, or due to the enormity of what’s going on in the world around you. How can you relax your mind while ensuring any unhealthy stress levels are kept in check as well?
The importance of stress management
A little bit of stress can be a good thing. Not all stress is negative — positive life changes such as a job promotion or getting married can be stressful, but with good outcomes. In fact, our bodies are built to manage stressful situations in small doses; these challenges force us to adapt and strengthen our abilities. However, it’s when stress goes unchecked or is cumulative that it can become detrimental to our health.
Continued stress becomes a significant health issue when we are exposed to negative tensions with no time to recover. That could manifest when we are exposed to a constant stream of bad news, a job you’re unhappy with, or an ongoing disagreement with a family member. When you can’t adequately recover from stress, the parasympathetic nervous system can’t bring the body back to homeostasis. As a result, you’re stuck in the “fight or flight” state, your body on edge and unsure what’s next. Over time, those stressors can add up.
To counter continued stress, consider exploring different techniques which can help you relax your mind and keep those stress levels in check.
1. Be mindful
The practice of mindfulness is grounded in focusing your awareness on what you are feeling in the present moment. Being conscious of your feelings, thoughts, and actions can go a long way to nip stressors in the bud before they transform into constant stressors. Knowing what causes stress in your life can help better prepare you to react positively when those stressors arise.
2. Try out meditation
A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine uncovered meditation’s role in stress reduction. The seemingly simple act of remaining still, tuning in to your breathing, and focusing on a mantra can help relax your mind in a way that a TV binge can’t. The simple act of breathing can have a powerful calming effect on people of all ages; taking mindful breaths triggers your body’s natural relaxation response.
Meditation isn’t all mountaintops and retreats. Just a few minutes in the morning or the evening is enough to clear your mind. If you find yourself unsure where to begin, there are many apps that can assist your new meditation practice right from your favorite place to get comfortable at home.
3. Experience forest bathing
The act of engaging with nature is a powerful one, and a walk through the forest may be one of the most effective of all. Forest bathing, called “shinrin yoku” in Japanese, may have a significant impact on stress levels. In fact, the total experience is so relaxing that the meta-analysis found just mentioning shinrin yoku caused. Look up some hiking trails near you and explore one or two, whether one is a short and flat loop or you’re up for a heart-pumping challenge —⁓your body will thank you for it either way.
4. Put things into perspective
Think about what you’re experiencing within the greater picture of your everyday life. Something or someone may be aggravating, but it is truly the end of the world? At the end of the day, the only thing that we can control is our reaction, and negative reactions only compound the stress we may be experiencing. With a clear and accurate idea of the role a stressful situation plays in your life, you can compartmentalize what may be bothering you, better control how you feel, and let go of what seems trivial in the long run.
5. Treat yourself
You don’t need a full spa day experience to pamper yourself. Take advantage of time spent at home to give yourself a mani/pedi, do some gentle stretching, or apply a nourishing hair mask. New to a DIY spa day? Read our guide to creating a CBD spa experience in your own home.
6. Spend time outside
The simple act of stepping into the sunshine can be transformative. The Journal of Environmental Psychology found in a series of studies that being outside makes people “feel more alive.” Not to mention, stepping out for a brief walk or stretch is a healthy break from the stream of our computer screens.
Time spent outside can have a direct impact on our stress hormones. A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology followed 36 urban residents over eight weeks, taking measurements of two stress biomarkers: salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase. The study found that those who spent 10 minutes or more outdoors three times per week exhibited an average of at least 21.3% lower salivary cortisol levels and an average of at least 28.1% lower alpha-amylase levels.
Exercise can impact your mood, both in the short term and in the long term. It has been well-established that exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that impact stress hormones. Increasing the release of natural endorphins through exercise can be an especially-powerful stress buster. Seek out an exercise regimen that you enjoy. That could involve going for a run outside, participating in a streaming exercise class, or taking a long walk.
8. Try products focused on wellness and balance
When you’re trying to relax your mind, your body is attempting to return to a state of homeostasis, or its naturally-balanced state of being. Natural products such as Cannabidiol (CBD) can help you get there. Homeostasis is intertwined with your endocannabinoid system, which is influenced by cannabinoids sourced from plants, called phytocannabinoids, and those made by your own body, called endocannabinoids. Supplementing your body’s natural supply with hemp-derived cannabinoids can help you return your body and mind to its harmonious state. Products like our The Daily capsule make it easy to take CBD, or try a CBD powder blend formulated to balance body and mind.
9. Consider hypnotherapy
Relaxation and concentration are at the core of this psychotherapy practice. During hypnotherapy, you’re guided by a mental health professional into a heightened state of awareness that’s hyper-focused on you. Once you’re in a relaxed state, you can begin to explore what’s at the root of your stress. Those issues can then be discussed in talk therapy, where you can work with your therapist to develop stress coping skills.
10. Massage yourself for a few minutes
Massage is linked to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. Functional brand imaging studies discovered that your brain changes during a massage, particularly in many areas of the brain that regulate stress response and emotions.
Thankfully, you don’t need an hour with a massage therapist to reap the benefits. Using your hands or a designated massage tool, rub your hands, feet, arms, legs, or really anywhere in your body you’re experiencing tension. For an elevated experience, incorporate a CBD-infused rub such as our R+R cream.
11. Take a long and relaxing bath
Hot baths conjure images of relaxation and feelings of soothed muscles at their mere mention. But the physical effects are just the beginning. An improved mood is one of the many benefits of a relaxing bath, particularly when the bath involves an infusion of lavender. This relaxing essential oil is only one of the many ingredients in our Bath Gem, infused with hemp extract, lavender, eucalyptus, epsom salt, and other minerals and oils that soothe the body as well as the mind.
12. Try journaling
Writing down your thoughts and intentions is a powerful act, one that supports your mental as well as your physical health. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) allows you to let loose what’s causing you stress. Your concerns, worries, and fears all find a safe place within the pages of a journal, a private outlet through which you can unpack what’s bothering you. Only when those concerns are let go can you truly take a deep breath and relax.
13. Experience float therapy
Float therapy isolates you from outside stimuli such as light and noise in a tank filled with warm water and Epsom salt. The therapy involves floating for approximately an hour, with no distractions whatsoever, so you can fully unwind. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Stress Management monitored the effect of float therapy on those experiencing stress. The study of 70 women and men found a decrease in stress, and even an increase in sleep quality, thanks to float therapy.
14. Try sound healing
This deeply immersive aural experience is both ancient and relaxing, with deep roots in societies around the globe. The gongs, singing bowls, and chimes emit vibrations thought to have a relaxing effect. A University of California- San Diego study observed the effects of sound healing on tension and other negative emotions, and found that study participants felt more relaxed after their sessions.
Find the right routine to relax your mind
Unwinding mentally can look differently to different people. You may find that a long walk is the best way to clear your mind, settling in for a long, relaxing soak does the trick, or a daily CBD regimen helps return your mind to a state of stress-less balance. There’s no wrong way to relax your mind – it’s most important that whatever you choose fits into your daily routine and can naturally become a regular part of your life.