11 Aug De-Stress SW5; tips and tricks to a happier, healthier life
London life can often get the better of us (definitely round Earls Court), especially during the Summer when the tubes are burning hot and you can’t even grab a coffee without squeezing your way through crowds of teens on their school holidays. At Vita Hair & Beauty we take de-stressing pretty seriously, making the most of the emotional and physical benefits of feeling at ease and taking the time to unwind. It doesn’t come easily to everyone, so here are a few ways to begin your journey to pure relaxation – it’s time to de-stress SW5.
It may seem like the easiest one to start with, but getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Have you ever slept 8 or 9 hours a night, but woke up feeling even more exhausted than when you went to bed? Quality, not just quantity, is incredibly important when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. To ensure you have the highest quality of sleep possible, make sure you pay attention to ‘sleep hygiene’ – an effective way of making sure you catch those all-important z’s without getting disrupted rest. This means no falling asleep in front of screens or watching TV just before bed, and if you absolutely must then making sure you turn off all blue light which is the type of light that will keep your brain awake for hours (there are apps such as ‘Flux’ for this).
Sleep hygiene also focuses on thoroughly unwinding before bed – although reading can feel relaxing and makes your eyelids feel heavy, it keeps the brain stimulated and will result in poorer quality sleep. Try going for a gentle stroll before bed or taking a warm bath instead. Another important aspect of sleep hygiene is helping your body get into a natural, and regular, rhythm. As tempting as it can be to sit on your laptop in bed during the day, this throws your bodyclock off and makes it even harder to switch off at night time – even if it might not feel like it. Try your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, avoid repetitive, and fight post-dinner drowsiness by engaging in a mildly stimulating activity like chatting with a friend, getting your things ready for the next day or even just washing the dishes. You’ll feel the difference of a great night’s rest hugely, and it will help set you up for any stressful challenges the week may throw at you.
Not everyone’s a gym bunny, but exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue, improve alertness and and concentration, as well as improve your cognitive ability. This can be super helpful when stress has reduced your ability to think clearly or concentrate. Physical activity actually produces endorphins in the brain and improves sleeping ability, in turn reducing stress. Even a workout of low intensity can make you feel more energised and healthy – studies have shown that even just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise decreases levels of tension, elevates mood, and improves sleep. For exercise that relaxes both the body and the mind as well, give yoga a try. Combining physical stretches with controlled breathing or meditation, yoga hits the mind just as hard as the body and helps reduce stress as well as lowering blood pressure and heart rate. And best of all – it can be free! At Vita we love yoga and do it at home by following youtube yoga instructors. One of our favourites is Yoga with Adrienne, a qualified instructor who makes the process simple for beginners and even gives you a step by step guide to help you relax and ease tension over the course of 30 days.
Not all too different from yoga in the way that it works both the mind and the body, meditation is one of the truly tried and tested methods of stress relief. Although a seemingly simple technique which focuses on breathing techniques and clearing the mind, if practiced for even just ten minutes per day, it can decrease anxiety, control stress and help you achieve a much larger capacity for relaxation. As Wildmind Meditation explains, “Meditation involves taking responsibility for our own mental states, and training ourselves to alter how we respond to experiences (especially difficult ones) so that we produce outcomes (both internally, in terms of mental states that we experience, and externally, in terms of the situations that we help create) that are more conducive to well being and happiness.” We recommend getting started on youtube or visiting Innerspace in Covent Garden for lunchtime guided meditation sessions in a quiet and calming space. They’re free and conveniently timed during weekday lunch breaks, you just need to book and turn up to begin your journey to relaxation.
It may not seem like an obvious one, but your daily diet can have a huge impact on your stress levels. We all know that eating healthier benefits you physically as well as mentally; the thing to be careful about here is not to go overboard. Unless you’re on a weight loss regime or you’ve been recommended certain diets by a health specialist, you don’t need to count every calorie or worry about every single ingredient – this actually ends up adding to the stress. However, cutting down on junk food will help hugely in relieving certain tensions and bad moods. According to Kirstin Aschbacher, PhD, an assistant professor in the University of California at San Francisco, eating junk foods full of sugar and fat will only really give you a moment of reprieve. “After the initial pleasure wears off, you may find yourself battling mood swings, irritability, and other unpleasant emotions on top of the stress, courtesy of the sugar, trans fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and whatever other synthetic ingredients you may have consumed.” However, by choosing to consume healthier foods daily, this will have a positive impact on your emotional state. Healthier choices will help alleviate tension, stabilise blood sugars, and send stress levels packing.
Here are some top superfoods which go a long way to easing stress and improving overall general health:
Green Leafy Veg
These vegetables (like spinach) are really rich in folate which is what helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine – also known as the happiness chemicals. A study in 2012 found that people who consumed more folate had a much lower risk of depression and anxiety than those who ate less.
Unhealthy gut flora can have a negative impact on your mental health which can often cause issues such as depression and anxiety, both of which go hand in hand with stress. Consuming beneficial gut bacteria actually has a direct effect on brain chemistry, transmitting mood-regulating signals to your brain via your vagus nerve. To consume healthy gut flora, you want to look out for yoghurts or naturally fermented foods that contain certain probiotics. It’s often better to get these from a health food store, as commercially available probiotics often contain so much sugar that you lose the benefit of the good bacteria.
A well known superfood crammed full of antioxidants, these little berries of wonder are full of anthocyanins – these aid your brain in the production of dopamine which is incredibly important in stabilising mood, function and coordination.
At Vita Hair & Beauty we know how difficult it is to balance all of the above – but even just trying one new step at a time can go a long way to improving your mental wellness and contribute to easing that nasty stress. Let us know how you get on or if you have any other tips that work well for you!