1. Relax Slowly
One of the keys to relaxing is to be patient – don’t worry about the fact that you’re relaxing, just sit or lie down and close your eyes. Relax your whole body slowly, starting at your head. At each point, tense the muscle and hold for five seconds and then release. Focus on the warmth and heaviness of your body as you relax and concentrate on the muscle groups you’re working each time.
Start by tensing your face – clench your teeth and furrow your brow – and next tense your shoulders by bringing them up to your ears. Then, move onto your arm muscles and so on, continuing to tighten and release each group of muscles in your body until you reach your toes.
Visualization is meditation for beginners – to start, simply lie back and close your eyes and focus on anything that takes your thoughts away from your current stresses. Favourite places like the beach and mountains or fantasy islands are a good way to start, just breathe slowly and imagine what you can see, feel, hear, taste and smell in this special place.
The idea is to take your mind off the stress, and replace it with an image that evokes a sense of calm. The more realistic your daydream, the more relaxation you’ll experience.
3. Breathe Deeply
When you’re stressed, your breathing will become shallow but calm is associated with relaxed and deep breathing. Turn tension into relaxation quickly by changing the way you breathe.
Let out a big sigh, drop your chest and exhale through gently pursed lips. Then imagine your low belly as a ‘powerful place’. Feel your breath coming in and out, feeling the belly, back and sides with each movement. Repeat 10 times and the feeling of relaxation should increase each time.
4. Drink Hot Tea
Swap coffee for a green or herbal tea – caffeine can raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so that coffee ‘break’ from your B&B management chores could be doing more harm than good! Chamomile tea is great in particular for calming the mind and reducing stress, but just the act of sipping a hot drink can have a relaxing effect.
Tense muscles can be quickly squeezed back into submission with this simple self-massage technique from Darrin Zeer, author of Lover’s Massage and Office Yoga:
Place both hands on your shoulders and neck.
Squeeze with your fingers and palms.
Rub vigorously, keeping shoulders relaxed.
Wrap one hand around the other forearm.
Squeeze the muscles with thumb and fingers.
Move up and down from your elbow to fingertips and back again.
Repeat with other arm.
6. Take a Time-Out
It’s not just kids that need to take a time out when their temper is bubbling to the surface. If you feel about to erupt or collapse from stress, find a quiet place to sit or lie down and put the situation on hold. Remove yourself from the scene or the difficult customer and take a few minutes to quiet your mind. The stress can wait!
7. Turn on the Tunes
Music can be a great way to relax, whether its peaceful and calming music or sounds specifically designed with relaxation in mind or simply a favourite CD that reminds you of a better time. Turn on an MP3 player or CD player as you work for a calming influence in the background or wait until the evening and sit down to unwind with your tunes.
Image: Thanks to Janet Ramsden on Flickr.com
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