Relaxation and Recovery

6 Relaxation Techniques to Help You Relieve Stress

You haven’t even finished your breakfast. You’re getting late for work. Your car is out of fuel. You need to make it before your boss calls for a meeting. With a mixture of all this combustion, you’re simply about to explode. So much stress. Stress can build up inside of you and attack once it has taken full form; so much so that you can feel it coming over you sometimes. But there’s no need for you to stress over getting stressed anymore. Here are 6 relaxation techniques that can help you relieve stress:

1. Meditation

Meditation is an absolute no-brainer when it comes to relieving stress. You don’t need a fancy meditation room to do it in, or a group of other people to do it with; meditation is as simple as they come. Simply find your inner self, compose yourself and relax all your muscles for as little as 10-15 minutes. The aftereffects of this effortless technique will be astounding as far as getting rid of your stress is concerned. If you can’t really find your way through meditation, there are several other methods of meditation that are suggested. Some of the names that spring to mind are Heart Rhythm Meditation and Transcendental Meditation. Each of these has a varying technique of relaxing your mind and body. So don’t be afraid of giving meditation an attempt whenever you have 10-15 minutes available during the day.

2. Mindfulness

This might be closely connected to meditation on some level. However, in recent times, mindfulness has become a buzzword of its own. The primary concept behind mindfulness is acknowledging whatever that you are going through at the moment and appreciating it. One thing you have to make sure is that you block all else out that is contaminating your mind. It can be anything from focusing on the color of a flower to examining any given piece of jewelry to observe how it was crafted. So long as your mind focuses on the present situation at hand, it will be off the things it was previously worrying about, and voila, your stress-relieving therapy will be in motion. According to experts, it only takes 30 long breaths or about 3 minutes and mindfulness can make you feel very refreshed and ready to focus.

3. Fresh Air

Sometimes, all your body needs is a breath of fresh air. If you’re feeling too caught up with work and failing to focus on anything, what you can do is simply take a walk around the block. Feeling frazzled at home or at work is a common occurrence, and heading outdoors is one quick way of relaxing yourself at such times. Not only does your mind stop focusing on the situation at hand, it gets a much needed change of perspective once you breathe some fresh air in. Spending twenty minutes outside, while just about doing any sort of activity, can be a great stress reliever, as it allows you to take your mind off troubling thoughts.

4. Music

Music, simply put, is a very powerful channel of energy. It can transform your mood. Make sure you get the right tunes on your playlist and put them on shuffle whenever you’re feeling down. Music is also known to relieve anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve mental health. If nothing else works, simply put your favorite song on for a bit and feel the stress coming off!

5. Exercise

It is already understood across all cultures and communities that doing exercise or a similar form of physical activity (any sport or yoga) can go a long way in giving you a fresh perspective of everything. As your body is put to work, a considerable amount of pent-up steam is blown off, which simply helps in getting rid of depression and generating the “happy” kind of hormones in your body.

6. Visualization

If all else fails, all you need is 5 minutes of shuteye. Picture your dream vacation, or any other serene environment or happy memory that brings all the good feelings in your mind. Doing so will take your focus away from the current tension and transport you to a different environment, where you are much happier, calmer, and more importantly, completely stress-free. Even just a quarter of an hour spent doing your favorite thing, or anything that gets your mind off of everything else, is a great stress-reliever. If nothing else works out for you, find out your own stress-reliever and work your way through all that pent-up frustration. You’re likely to have all kinds of stresses in your life. As such, it is always best if you have something up your sleeve so you can deal with them.

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How to Relax at Work without Getting the Sack

For the last two decades, a new epidemic has been killing thousands upon thousands every year. Your mind may flick quickly to developing countries and the diseases that are rife due to lack of immunizations, but this is one epidemic we are all too familiar with – work-related stress. According to a 2003 survey, Stressed Out, which was carried out by the Good Samaritans, people’s jobs are the single biggest stressor with a reported 36% of adults being affected. Additionally, Health and Safety have reported that work-related stress is now the leading cause of workplace absences (Stranks, J, 2005:1). This is all well and true, but what can be defined as workplace stress?

Occupational diseases

This include strokes, heart disease, and psychological problems. Each year the number of sudden deaths related to heart disease and strokes increases as does the national suicide rate. Work-related stress simply means that a person’s endurance and resilience at work can no longer be sustained. Add the pressures of everyday life to equation such as financial, relationship, and family concerns and it is no wonder that more and more people are allowing their work to compromise their health (Wainwright, D & Calnan, M:2002). So, is your job slowly killing you?

Symptoms and side effects of work-related stress

There are a number of symptoms and side effects. Some have a lesser impact than others, but it is very rare that you will only feel one side effect in isolation. Side effects and symptoms of stress caused by a job are interrelated, and all of these smaller stress-related symptoms can often contribute to a premature death. (Stranks, J. 2005:4) Stress affects each individual differently. Stress can be emotional, which is typically characterized by excessive tiredness, worry and a lack of motivation. Stress can be cognitive, which increases the chances of error and workplace accidents. Stress in the workplace can be behavioral, resulting in the deterioration of work relationships, indecisiveness, irritability, absenteeism, and excessive drinking and smoking. It can also be psychological, causing general aches and pains, back aches, headaches, dizziness, raised blood pressure, digestive disorders, and skin disease. Yes, work-related stress can be brutal, and if you’re not careful, deadly (Stranks, J. 2005:12). It is impossible to point the finger at one thing or person and claim it to be the cause of a person’s stress at work. There are a number of leading factors, which include a person’s physical environment, the organization, management, role in the workplace, relationships, career development, individual concerns, and even the office’s equipment or lack of (Stranks, J. 2005:20). Being faced with 200+ emails in your inbox, a boss who’s constantly on your case and an inefficient administration team is enough to send anyone a little crazy. Your ideal situation might be to take immediate time off work and book a vacation in a 5-star resort in Cancun, but that’s hardly ideal, and the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. The thing is, you can try and beat the stress before it even affects you simply by doing a few 5-minute relaxation exercises in the office. Some are so subtle, no one will even notice, and you can rest assured that you’ll never be accused of slacking off.

Changing a few of your routines and lifestyle

Try adjusting Just a little, and you’ll be surprised with the results. Swap your standard Americano or double espresso and sip on green tea instead. Green tea doesn’t contain any additives, it doesn’t act as a stimulant, and it’s packed with L-Theanine, a potent natural chemical that helps to relieve your anger, an absolute must if you work with incompetent or inefficient colleagues or demanding and unreasonable clients. If you take sugar in your drinks, try using honey instead. Honey is just as sweet and also acts as a natural antibiotic, reducing inflammation to the brain and fighting depression and anxiety. Take a few moments out of your hectic office day to find some inner-peace. When you think of meditating, you may conjure up images of going on a hippy retreat, but this isn’t the case. Find a comfortable quiet spot for 5 minutes and concentrate on your breathing. It has been proved that meditating relieves tension in the body, stress, and depression. Your breathing should consist of slow deep breaths, which will in turn help reduce both your blood pressure and heart rate. Another method of relaxation breathing can be taken from yoga. Pranayama breathing involves you breathing through one nostril, relieving stress and anxiety (Shaw, S. 2004:21). Or if you’re not convinced by meditation and want to try something totally new, you can adopt the same relaxation method that actors use which is referred to Progressive Relaxation and involves squeezing and releasing your muscles. This particular method of relaxation will go unnoticed and will bring an almost immediate sense of calm when you feel like you’re drowning.


If you’re looking for a more whole body relaxation technique, try giving yourself a hand massage. This will offer you instant relaxation, especially when your stress levels have reached a peak and your heart’s pounding. Hand massages can be particularly beneficial if you spend a lot of time typing. Your hands are very important, but at the same time sensitive and they have the tendency to carry a lot of tension. Apply a small amount of hand cream and use your fist to knead the muscle underneath the thumb. You will feel an all-over stress relief throughout the body, including the scalp, neck, and shoulders.  Acupressure works just as well, especially if you have to meet a tight deadline that’s sent your blood pressure through the roof. Using both your thumb and forefinger, massage with pressure the cushiony area between your thumb and index finger. Acupressure works by helping to balance the circulation of the body’s fluids and energy, relieving you of a heavy head. Beating stress at work before you allow it to take its toll will help circumvent the more severe repercussions of stress. Look out for yourself and take a few minutes at work to wind down and relax without worrying that anyone else may be looking on.

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Mother Nature’s #1 Secret Sleep Remedy

Today most of us live hectic lives. We are in a constant state of running around and panic. Once upon a time we viewed sleep as a necessity, but these days it’s viewed as a luxury. We have no qualms about spending excessively long hours in the office and participating in a number of different activities on top of that. Many have come to dismiss sleep, but something has to give. When we don’t get enough sleep we’re hurting ourselves both mentally and physically. Even when we do sometimes recognize that sleep is needed, our bodies flatly refuse to fall into a deep slumber; it’s a case of our bodies telling us one thing and our minds telling us another.

More People than you Realize Suffer from Insomnia

A great percentage of the world’s population suffers from insomnia, a complex sleep condition caused by a number of different factors. Insomnia and other sleep disorders are wrecking havoc on our health, and it’s time to address these issues before they really take their toll. The insomnia numbers are staggering with 35%-40% of all adults in the West stating they suffer from the occasional bout of insomnia and 10%-15% suffering from it on a regular basis. Addressing sleeping disorders often requires us to look at our lifestyles and changes in our environments, but there could be a much simpler answer, and that lies in an easily-accessible natural supplement, magnesium. Yes, the secret’s out, the best natural supplement to ensure a restful night’s sleep is indeed magnesium (Cabot, S. 2005:14).

The Mineral that Promises Relaxation

Commonly known as the ‘relaxation mineral’, magnesium works wonders on all aspects of your health, especially your mental health, more specifically sleep. Magnesium deficiencies are not uncommon, and if you’re feeling constantly tired, irritable, stiff, and feeling like you just can’t sleep, you’re most likely in need of a good dose of magnesium. Of course you could simply try and fill up on magnesium rich foods like dark leafy greens, bananas, fish, dark chocolate, seeds, nuts, and yogurt, but sometimes it’s much easier to get the recommended daily dosage of magnesium in the form of a supplement that can be easily obtained from a health store. Scientists and health professionals swear by magnesium to aid sleep. This amazing mineral is solely responsible for well over 300 different enzyme reactions in your body’s tissues. Magnesium is absolutely essential as it facilitates the cells in producing energy. Additionally, it helps to stabilize the body’s membranes and also helps the body’s muscles relax. There are a number of things that cause sleeping disorders, which includes both physical and emotional problems, such as trauma and stress. The human mind is complex and it just can’t switch off at times. Not only is magnesium prescribed for dealing with stress and other emotional problems, magnesium supplements are often used when a person can’t sleep. Research supports that magnesium supplements improve the overall quality of a person’s sleep, which is done by carefully increasing slow wave sleep while limiting adrenal stress hormones (Cabot, S. 2005:13).

What’s Magnesium’s Magic Power?

What’s more is that it has also been reported that a poor night’s sleep also reduces the healthy levels of magnesium in the body’s cells, thus zapping your energy even more and also making it even more difficult to exercise effectively (Cabot, S. 2005:14). The recommended daily dosage of magnesium is 100-400mg per day, which can easily be taken in the form of one magnesium supplement pill instead of having to stuff yourself with 20 bananas. In short, magnesium is a wonder mineral; it has the capacity to work alone or also in conjunction with another healthy mineral, calcium. When it works individually, it turns carbohydrates into energy, which in turn helps fight fatigue (Challem, J. 2003:109).

Magnesium for Depression

Another known cause of sleeplessness is depression, but that’s the great thing about magnesium, this multi-purpose mineral also helps the right brain chemicals that wage war against depression, making magnesium the all-round winner when it comes to getting enough sleep, more energy and happiness (Challem, J. 2003:119). When a person’s stressed, their body also excretes magnesium, which results in the inability to sleep well through the night. Magnesium also boosts the body’s glutamatergic system, which means that it’s possible for magnesium to effectively slow down or in some cases even reverse age-related sleep disorders. The breakthrough in the power of magnesium means we no longer have to suffer from nocturnal headaches, migraines, depression, which are all known causes of delayed sleep onset (Meletis, C. 2004:102).

Ways you’re Counteracting the Effects of Magnesium

Of course other than taking magnesium supplements there are a few things you should consider. There are a number of things that drain the human body of magnesium therefore if you continue with your previous lifestyle, taking magnesium will all be in vain. Caffeinated products, salt, alcohol, and sugar are known to deplete your magnesium levels. Additionally, there are a few prescribed medicines that affect the body’s magnesium loss, such as high blood pressure drugs. A lack of sleep can lead to much more serious problems down the line, so make sure you get your daily fix of magnesium through supplements and foods rich in magnesium. At the end of the day every living animal needs sleep, but the reason why still remains to be a bit of an enigma. What is known however is that sleep is absolutely essential to the brain’s development and the body’s overall health, which is why you’d be crazy not to give magnesium supplements a whirl – you’ll never look back and you can also have the chance to kiss those sleepless nights away.

Article Resources:
Cabot, S. Tired of Not Sleeping? 2005. SCB, Glendale, AZ. Challem, J. User’s Guide to Traditional Supplements. 2003. Basic Health Publications, Inc. New Jersey. Meletis, C. Herbs and Nutrients for the mind: a guide to natural brain enhancers. 2004. Prager Publishers, Westport, CT. Wenkart, M. A Guide to Sleep for Babies, Children and Adults. 2006.

How Exercise Helps (and Hurts) Sleep

People have always advocated ‘Exercise before sleep’. It’s always been thought that this is the one way that you can really sleep like a baby, especially if you’re known to suffer from sleeping disorders. But recent studies show conflicting opinions, so before you start hitting the treadmill and gym hard right before wanting to catch some much needed shut-eye, read on.

The Real Truth behind Exercising to Sleep

These days many people are very quick to run to their family doctor for a much coveted prescription of the strongest sleeping pills in a desperate bit to battle chronic insomnia, but research shows that the right amount of aerobic exercise can help. Researchers at Northwestern University have carried out extensive research regarding this issue and their findings show that steady and consistent aerobic exercise may be the best natural medicine to beat sleep disorders. The good news doesn’t stop there; the right amount of exercise not only helps you sleep, it is also said to drastically improve both a person’s mood and vitality. This is of course great news for the 50% of middle-aged people who’re trying to fight their sleeping problems or chronic insomnia

Exercising in Small Doses does affect Sleep Quality

They say everything’s good in moderation, and this includes small amounts of regular exercise before sleep. Scientists claim that participants in recent studies reported a great improvement in the quality of their overall sleep after light exercise. Many who had once suffered from the negative effects of insomnia happily reported they had transitioned from being a poor sleeper to a good one. After a few months of exercising, those who once fought a daily battle with their sleeping disorders could rest easy knowing they were able to sleep, resulting in more energy, a better memory, less daytime sleepiness, fewer depressive symptoms, and more pep, allowing you to have more stamina throughout the day. Just like your diet, exercise is essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle and sleep through the night easily without tossing and turning or waking up startled in the middle of the night.

Throwing in the Towel to a Sedentary Lifestyle

A study was carried out amongst a group of mostly women over the age of 55, all of whom have suffered from sleep deprivation, insomnia and the inability to function throughout the day due to lack of sleep. The group was split in 2. One of the groups was instructed to exercise four times a week for 2 20 minute exercise sessions. Exercises differed and included walking outdoors, using the treadmill and riding on a stationary gym bike. The prescribed exercise was light, and it’s fair to say no participant exerted themselves physically with all participants remaining 75% or less below the maximum heart rate.  The second group was instructed to remain inactive, only taking part in recreational activities such as cooking classes and other recreational activities that didn’t require physical input (Linden, K. 11). The results weren’t really that surprising; with those exercising being able to sleep soundly through the night in comparison to how they were at the beginning of the study – tired, frazzled, fatigued, and weak. On average they were sleeping from 45 minutes to up to an hour longer each night. Additionally, their sleeps weren’t as broken and they were able to sleep throughout the night more easily. What was surprising was that the exercising didn’t take immediate effect. After 2 full months of exercising on a regular basis the participants sleep patterns and cycles had not changed. Instead it took a period of 4 whole months for there to be any positive result.(Linden, K. 11).

Does this Mean we Shouldn’t Exercise to Improve Sleep?

If you’re looking for an excuse not to exercise to improve your sleep, this isn’t going to cut it. Long-term moderate exercise does improve the quality of your sleep. It can’t be a one-off thing or a phase. It needs to be done over a period of time. It needs to be consistent, and it needs to light to moderate. So, why does it take so long to take effect?

It’s How You’re Wired

People who suffer from insomnia are wired differently. Sleep disturbances in insomnia sufferers are likely due to neurological differences. Doctors have defined these differences as the hyper-arousal of the body’s stress system therefore a one-time workout session is not really enough to overcome it. In some cases exercise may even exacerbate the stress since working out is considered to be a physical stressor (Linden, K. 13). But don’t let this put you off; doing light to moderate daily exercise always has its upside. If you’re able to maintain a good dose of moderate exercise over a period of time, your workout sessions will begin to mute your stress response, making it easier to sleep at night.

All it Takes is 20-30 Minutes

In the short of it, exercising during the day will impact your sleep in the long run. In the evenings, you’ll find it easier to relax and rest better, helping your sleep to become more consistent. Scientists, researchers and personal trainers all agree on one thing – staying physically active on a daily basis will improve your sleep quality. Making small changes in your lifestyle such as walking to work instead of driving or  taking the stairs instead of the elevator all count towards your light daily exercise. Try to be physically active for between 15-30 minutes each day and you’ll eventually see a healthful night’s sleep in the near future (Linden, K. 15). Exercising also has its other benefits that contribute to better sleep. When you exercise, you’ll also speed up your metabolism, have better control over your weight, and improve your cardiovascular health – three things that effectively relieve symptoms of sleep apnea (Linden, K. 18). Basically, it’s obvious that regular light to moderate exercise helps you sleep better. Who doesn’t want to fall asleep faster? Who doesn’t want to have a higher percentage of quality deep sleep? And who doesn’t want to sleep through the night? (Morrone, L. 2011:30)

The Flipside

Weightlifting and extreme workouts have always been popular. In the past, it was predominantly men who would lift their body weight or more in a bid to strengthen the body, but in recent times such exercise regimens have also become popular amongst women as well. Intense workouts push the body’s heart rate to its peak, meaning that’s its more difficult for the body to get back into a state of relaxation. A crazy workout before bed doesn’t put the body under any kind of psychological stress; in fact it leaves you feeling more emotionally stable. However, your body does go through a different kind of stress – a physiological one. An intense workout whether it be a really fast run or a session of pumping iron induces cardiac stress or in simpler terms it speeds up your heart rate. The heart rate increases and the heart becomes enlarged, meaning the body doesn’t have enough time to physically recover, making it more difficult to fall asleep at the right time (Morrone, L. 2011:32). Extreme exercise also has another major effect on the body. When you exercise, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is typically released when your body’s under stress. High impact and heavy resistance training quickens the body’s cortisol production, which can affect your health on a number of different levels. Known effects on the body are depression, memory impairment, weight gain, digestive problems, and sleep disorders and disturbances (Seraganian, P. 1993:20). Is this bad news for strength training enthusiasts and marathon runners? No, it isn’t if you exercise at the right time of the day and don’t overdo it.

How to Determine Whether Your Exercise Is Impairing Your Sleep

So, you like working out at night, but how can you tell whether it’s interfering with your precious shuteye? A useful tip is to measure your heart rate after going to the gym and immediately before going to bed. If you measure that your heart rate is 20 beats above the normal rate per minute, it’s likely you’re going to struggle when it comes to falling asleep quickly. Compare it to a night of no intense workout before sleep. If you discover that your hardcore workouts are disrupting your sleep pattern, simply switch the time that you workout and leave your sweat sessions for earlier on in the day. We all need sleep, there’s no doubt about it. When you can improve your sleep, you’ll be able to also improve your mental and physical health. Light training can do you the world of good when it comes to getting more quality sleep, but there’s a limit. Don’t over exert yourself before bed. Be smart and let your body and mind wind down so you’ll be able to have a restful sleep with no disturbances. When it comes to exercise and sleep, it’s all about moderation.

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How Bedroom Design Can Prevent You From Sleeping Like a Baby

Did you know that the average human spends over a third of their life sleeping? While this fact might astonish you, many people just don’t realize how important sleep is and how sensitive their bodies are to their sleeping environment. Where you sleep at night dramatically affects your sleep quality. Yes, that’s right your bedroom’s design can play a major role how you sleep. Think about it, it’s already rather difficult to try and get a good night’s sleep these days. There’s so much pressure, stress, family worries, and long working days that already keep us up at night, which is why it’s imperative to do everything you can to improve your sleep quality. Good room design falls into this category – think Feng Shui – the Chinese have been practicing this method of philosophical room design for centuries.

Why You Need Sleep

On average, people today sleep less. Not too long ago people were getting at least 8 hours of solid sleep a night, but these days the numbers have dramatically changed to an average of 6 hours per night. The truth is our bodies need sleep; we need sleep to function to our maximum potential. Sleep is important. There are so many benefits of sleep. You’ll find your overall mood will improve with enough sleep. You’ll see the results in healthier looking skin, better vision, and even a better memory. Sleep is when the body recovers and rejuvenates as well, and without it you’ll become drawn and eventually sick. Look at your bedroom as a reflection of what your life is. One of the biggest indicators that your life isn’t in order is through a room’s clutter, and not surprisingly, a cluttered room reflects a cluttered life and it’s one of the leading contributors to a sleepless night.

It’s Time to De-Clutter

It’s so easy just to throw your clothes on the ground after a busy day’s work. It’s so easy to let things in your room pile up, eventually getting out of control. Some people are messier than others, but believe it or not, this mess causes more problems than just tripping over in the dark. A cluttered room makes it more difficult to relax, resulting in the inability to fall asleep. Do yourself a huge favor and de-clutter; get rid of things you don’t need (Hirshkowitz, M. 2004:143). It’s quite possible you’ve thought that you’ve been suffering from a sleep disorder most of your life, but without even realizing it, it could have been your lifestyle the whole time. But what is it that makes clutter so bad? Clutter attracts dust and traps it, causing a number of different allergies which can cause restless nights. Additionally, if you have a computer or laptop in your room, it’s time to move it. Your computer or laptop is teeming with a number of harmful different toxins that cause restlessness at night, including lead, cadmium, epoxy plastics, and flame retardants (Beres, R & L. 2010:296).

It’s Time for an Electronics Cull

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for the average person to have numerous electronic gadgets from phones to laptops and mp3s to LED TVs in their bedrooms. It may come as a shock, but keeping such electronic equipment in your sleeping space, including your digital clock, can interfere with your sleep. Such electronic items send out invisible waves. These waves are transmitted and can break a night’s sleep. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for a TV to keep playing while you’ve fallen asleep, which is also known to interrupt a deep sleep (Petrin, L. 2013:55). Additionally, you’ll also need to get rid of every electronic device that has LED lighting. LED lighting is a blue based light, which is also the same as morning night. Although it’s nighttime and dark outside, your body may be tricked into thinking it was earlier with LED-lit devices, which will disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm of in other words its natural body clock, making it more difficult to fall asleep at the right time (Petrin, L. 2013:56). Natural light is essential during the day. It gives your body its much-needed dose of vitamin D and it also transmits the message it’s daytime to your brain, alerting you that you need to be awake. Your room needs to be well-lit throughout the daytime hours; however, it’s also essential to sleep in a pitch black room, blocking out any possible lights sources, such as an outdoors streetlamp. Through monitoring the amount of light your room gets, you’ll be able to help regulate your body clock more, making it easier to fall asleep and enjoy an unbroken slumber.

Is your Bed Okay?

A good bed is one of the most important things when it comes to your bedroom design and the quality of your sleep. As a rule of thumb, you ought to look at replacing your mattress every 5 to 7 years to ensure ongoing comfort, support and hygiene. When it comes to your mattress and pillows, the worst thing you can do is opt for a cheap version because you’ll just end up paying for it later and compromising your sleep. You need a decent mattress to support your spine and the same goes for pillows. High-thread count bedding and coordinated sheets and covers make it even more inviting and unique for you, thus creating more comfort. Size also matters. A bed too small or too short will have you tossing and turning all night, making it difficult to fall asleep at night. Make sure you test the bed out; don’t be afraid to lie down on it in the store to get a real feel for it.

Your Rug Could be Toxic

They may look beautiful. They may add to the room’s décor. They may be cozy, but that shaggy rug you’ve loved for years in your bedroom could actually be causing you more harm than good. Rugs, carpets and the like are notorious for harboring bacteria, toxins, and even tiny little bugs that are invisible to the naked eye. Even the makeup of the rug could be toxic as adhesives and carpet backings all contain chemicals that could essentially affect the quality of your sleep. If you feel like you really need a rug in your room, opt for a rug or carpet that is untreated and made of natural fibers (Beres, R & L. 2010:296).

Consider a Tranquil Environment

A tranquil environment aids a good night’s sleep. First of all, you need to consider the color scheme of your bedroom as this is something that’s easily changed with very little cost, especially if you do it yourself. Relaxing hues such as greens, blues and neutrals encourage relaxation. To add to the peaceful ambiance, you could also try experimenting with monochromatic color schemes or high-contrasting patterns. Bright colors can often tamper with a room’s lighting and at other times they can cause stress or shock, once again impairing the sleep quality. If your bedroom space is limited, there’s little you can do about it unless you’re prepared to move house. A cramped room can make you feel claustrophobic, which in turn affects the body’s breathing throughout the night. Use optical illusions to create more space. If you’re room is cramped, paint it with lighter colors to help it appear bigger. On the other hand, if it’s too big, your room can feel empty and lonely, which will also have a psychological impact on how you sleep. Overcome a room too large by using darker hues on the walls. Or alternatively, if you want to create a well-balanced room using light and dark colors, paint your walls with two different colors. A two-toned wall will not only act as a modern feature, it will also create warmth and that much needed space, giving you the best of both worlds (Petrin, L. 2013:56).

The Layout Counts

So, you may not have an abundance of space when it comes to decorating and designing your bedroom, but the layout of your room does matter – it affects your sleep. When your room is overcrowded and full, negative energy is created, which in turn contributes to restless sleeps. A room that is packed full of things can be overwhelming, not to mention it collects dust, leading to nighttime coughing and avoidable allergies. Split your room into different zones and have a zone for each purpose, such as sleeping, studying, and dressing; this way, you’ll only have the items you need, your room will be less cluttered, there won’t be as much dust, and you’ll be able to move freely about as well (Griffin, E. 2009:42). The interior of your bedroom plays an important role on the quality of your sleep. If you consider your bedroom design carefully, you could ultimately do yourself a favor and aid a good night’s sleep. There are a number of things you can do to your sleeping room without having to do any serious renovations to assist in a better night’s sleep, and it’s definitely worth considering since you spend so much of your time in this one room. Your bedroom is your kingdom. It’s the very first place you’ll see when you wake up in the morning and it’s also the last before you sleep. This is the most personal area of your house, so if nothing else, you do have a moral obligation to make your room as comfortable as possible to enable a full night’s sleep. In short, your bedroom should act as your own personal oasis and you need to always bear in mind that its design does impact your sleep, and sleep should always be one of your top priorities.

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Effectively Relaxing for a Better Night’s Sleep

Though people experience insomnia differently, the result is invariably the same: you feel lousy in the morning. You experience symptoms like low energy, irritability, anxiousness, trouble focusing, headaches, gastrointestinal upset, or poor physical and mental performance. Insomnia refers to difficulty falling or staying asleep, and it affects about 30 percent of the population, according to the National Sleep Foundation. For some, it’s an acute, short-lived problem that arises occasionally; for others, it’s a chronic problem, meaning it occurs at least three times per week for at least three months. If you contend with insomnia, or if you simply don’t wake feeling rested and refreshed, certain natural relaxation aids and techniques can help. Some trial and error helps you find the tips and tricks that work best for you personally.

Take a Calming Natural Supplement

While many people turn to pharmaceutical sleep aids, the risk of side effects and dependence make them a measure of last resort. All-natural supplements can help you mellow out at night so you fall asleep more readily and sleep more soundly. Melatonin is a popular short-term option. Various herbal supplements help you wind down before bedtime, too. Chamomile, kava kava, valerian, and rhodiola are worth trying. Nutritional supplements that may provide sleep benefits include omega-3 fatty acids, L-tryptophan, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and L-theanine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Try Mind-Body Relaxation Techniques

This is a broad category, and everyone has to figure out which relaxation techniques fit best into their schedule and work best for them. Gentle movement- and stretching-based practices like yoga and tai chi are effective ways to come down after a hectic day for many, while the complete stillness of meditation works better for others. Acupuncture and massage therapy are other examples in this category, differing in that they require you to see a trained professional. These sorts of practices are well known for their ability to reduce stress and anxiety, calm the body and mind, promote more restful sleep, and otherwise help you relax. 

Develop a Relaxation Routine Before Bedtime

Routine is an effective way to train your body to recognize when it’s time to calm down and go to sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is a big part of this, but so is setting aside specific time for a few relaxing activities before turning in. A warm bath works well for many people, while others enjoy a soothing cup of tea. A decaffeinated green tea or chamomile tea is a smart pick. Reading or listening to mellow music are other good options. Some deep breathing can help, or try aromatherapy. Using calming scents—lavender is probably the best choice—from essential oils or candles has a potent relaxation effect on the body. Aromatherapy can conveniently be combined with other relaxing nighttime activities.

Avoid Stimulation, Stressors, and Other Things that Interfere with Sleep

Of course, while there are plenty of ways to relax, there are also lots of ways to get yourself wound up before bed. Switch to decaf once late afternoon rolls around, and forgo heavy meals at night. Spicy, greasy, fried, and fatty foods aren’t conducive to sleeping well, and neither is alcohol, despite the perception that a stiff drink helps put you out for the night. While regular exercise is essential to good health and to feeling appropriately worn out at the end of the day, get it early on; exercising too close to bedtime can leave you running on high gear when you want to be relaxed. Also, try to stay out of bright lighting at night so you don’t mess with your circadian rhythm and limit exposure to the computer, tv, smartphone, e-reader, and other electronic screens.

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7 Relaxation Tips To Bring Out Your Inner Zen

With our busy lives, “relax” can almost sound like a foreign word. You have to run these errands, finish this project for work, manage these responsibilities, and if you have kids, that alone can feel like a full-time job. “There’s just not enough time in the day,” you’ve maybe thought to yourself once or a thousand times. The problem is, not being able to relax leads to a build-up of stress, which causes everything from heart disease to depression. No matter how busy you are, all it can take is just a few minutes to become more calm, and more efficiently tackle the rest of your day.

Call Or Talk To Someone You Love

One of the quickest ways to increase oxytocin, the chemical often referred to as the “love hormone,” is to speak with a close friend or family member. A study from 2010 even found that using social media sites such as Facebook helped to increase the level of oxytocin in the brain. That feeling of connection helps to relax us, and it can be very beneficial to talk about your problems instead of keeping them to yourself.

Go For A Walk

Changing your environment helps to give you a different perspective, and a short walk can help to clear your mind. Exercise in general does wonders for reducing stress, and can have positive health benefits in as little as 10 minutes per day. The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America reports that people who exercised regularly were 25 percent less likely to develop an anxiety disorder or depression.

Take Time To Unplug

Technology makes it incredibly easy for us to stay connected all the time, but it also comes with major distractions. You simply don’t need to instantly respond to every text, email or notification. Every once in a while, turn off all notifications, especially when you’re out with friends and family. What matters most is what’s right in front of you, and I promise you the world will not end.

Watch Or Read Something Funny

Chances are you’ve heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Just like when talking to loved ones, laughter also helps to increase oxytocin. Listen to your favorite comedian or check your social media feeds. There’s an endless amount of funny out there to keep the laughter flowing.


When we’re stressed out, where we work and live can start to look like the inside of our head: cluttered and messy. Cleaning can be very cathartic, and a clean, organized work environment helps you be more productive thanks to being able to focus better.

Practice Meditation

There are a number of studies out there that point to major benefits of meditation. Medical News Today has a collection of such studies with the benefits reaching beyond reducing stress and anxiety, to also improving memory and the ability to learn. Thanks to Hollywood, most people think of Buddhist monks when the idea of meditation is brought up. However, you don’t have to practice a certain religion or repeat the word “om” out loud. Meditation is for anyone, and sessions as short as 10 minutes aid greatly in relaxation. In the beginning, trying to quiet the mind can be frustrating, but like anything, it just takes practice. Mindfulness In Plain English is a great book for beginners, and is free to read online.

Live More In The Now

A lot of our problems, worries and fears are based on things that either happened in the past or we think, often irrationally, could happen in the future. Meditation helps us to focus more on the present moment, and that ultimately leads to less stress. Pay more attention to the thoughts that flood your mind, and the priority you give them. The results may surprise you.
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9 Ways to Reduce Stress with Music

Music has long-been touted as a sort of mind-body medicine, having powerful effects on mood and the overall ability to maintain a positive and collected approach to life’s many obstacles. Music has been linked to anxiety relief, lower blood pressure, improved sleep quality, help with depression, and even increased pain tolerance. Listening to music is a fairly inexpensive and immediate solution that’s readily available to most people. Use any combination of the following nine methods and use music in your daily routine to help manage stress and create more joy in your life.

Rise and Shine

Instead of jolting awake to the sound of a harsh, buzzing alarm, set your device to rouse you with a song or tune that provides an uplifting yet subtle start to your day. This could be anything from a positive preset jingle on your phone to a favorite song. It should be something that really speaks to your senses and preferences.

Sing in the Shower

Cliché as it sounds, singing in the shower can be a great way to wake yourself up and produce internal energy first thing in the morning. Singing provides a great way for the body to utilize vibrations of our voice to positively stimulate the very cells of the body. This process helps to regulate breathing, increase blood flow, and even trigger an endorphin release in the brain. It’s not about whether or not you are a “good” singer, but more so about enjoying the movement of the melody through your body.

Commute with Music

The drive to work (or depending on where you live, to anywhere) is perhaps one of the most stressful parts of a daily routine. Sitting in traffic evokes an intense anxiety response but the reality is that this doesn’t slow time, nor does it make the traffic move at a more tolerable pace. Positive music choices can greatly impact your own internal state and the ability to maintain composure, which is helpful since external factors simply cannot be changed. Keep a driving playlist that uplifts and de-stresses you, and turn it on whenever you wind up in a jam.

Music on the Job

Work environments can be stressful, chaotic and draining. Communal background music can provide everyone with a sense of focus and even relaxation, although it may be difficult to cater to everyone’s individual musical taste. If a common playlist is not an option, consider headphones with your preferred music choices and utilize this playlist throughout the day to keep yourself on track and stress-free. Keep in mind that this music shouldn’t pose a distraction to your work, but rather enhance your ability to maintain productivity and purpose.

Take Breaks with Tunes

Breaks are essential for productivity, allowing the brain a chance to reset and rejuvenate in order to get back to tackling the day’s tasks. Break time music should offer a different musical perspective from your typical background work music so that your brain can experience a shift in monotony. During this time, you will more actively pay attention to the melody, providing a great opportunity for a whole mind and body recharge.

Unwind With Melody

At the end of the day, it can be tempting to turn on the news, browse social media, or even flip mindlessly through a magazine. While these actions can certainly be utilized as part of a pleasant evening routine, try incorporating music into this process first. Replace various connections to the outside world with your own internal connection to a favorite relaxing song. Use this time to close your eyes, release the stresses of your day, and transition to a more relaxed end-of-day state.

Nurture Relationships Through Song

It’s truly amazing to consider the power that music has to connect people. It can be difficult to match musical interests with friends and family, but once you find some common ground, these melodies provide a great way to nurture interpersonal relationships. This can be done anywhere in your day that allows for musical bonding time, whether it’s in the car, in the workplace, with your spouse at the end of the day, and with children or friends on the weekends.

Move with Music

Dancing provides an incredible stress release and music leads the way. Just one feel-good song combined with some shaking of the hips and you can totally turn your day around. This movement, as with any physical exercise, triggers endorphin release throughout the body that helps in combating stress and further allowing for the body to properly relax. Music can also provide itself as an uplifting personal coach and companion when added to any exercise regimen. Whether you are walking, running, stretching, yoga and even fitness classes, the right music can impressively help you get through a workout and maintain those positive vibes long after it’s over.

Play Music

If you are so inclined, taking up an instrument can have a dramatic and even therapeutic impact on your overall health and ability to process stress. From simple scales to rudimentary exercises and even improvisational songs, playing music engages more areas of the brain than any other activity. This can help regulate mood patterns and even hormonal balance. Take just a few minutes a day to engage your mind and body in this way and reap the relaxing benefits.

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