It has been a challenging year and a half for most of us. The series of lockdowns and restrictions on our lives have taken a huge toll on our mental health and wellbeing.
A report by Mind, the mental health charity, found:
Loneliness is a key contributor to poor mental health, and concerns about our finances, health, and doom and gloom media have only elevated our stress levels.
Stress does not just affect us mentally. It has physical implications too, including an elevated heart rate, panic attacks, insomnia, an upset stomach, low energy, headaches, and a worsened immune system.
Now, with longer and sunnier days and society fully opening up, it’s time to de-stress and enjoy the summer. What better time to celebrate this than International Relaxation Day? This chill holiday takes place on 15th August, but we should prioritise our mental wellbeing more often! Here are some of my favourite ways to unwind and relax.
Whether that’s a walk through the woods, sunbathing or a spot of gardening, please make an effort to enjoy the great outdoors. Take in the sounds of birds and the running water of ponds and rivers, feel the breeze and sun on your bare arms, take in the smell of flowers and freshly cut grass. Appreciate the beautiful nature around you whilst making the most of natural Vitamin D! I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) so I am rarely indoors during the summer.
I know, I know. We have busy lives, whether that’s work, family or social commitments… but you need to nourish your body and mind! Not eating enough food or, on the other side of the spectrum, eating too many takeaways, will not nourish your body. Scientists have found that stress affects blood pressure and blood flow. However, there are some nutrients that can help improve blood flow in the body such as omega-3 (oily fish, flax seeds, soya beans, walnuts), vitamin E (green veg, sunflower seeds, almonds) and polyphenols (dark chocolate, blueberries). Why not try to meal prep at the weekend or invest in a slow cooker?
Make space in your diary for some me-time! I always feel relaxed after my skincare routine, but if you want to multi-task then try leaving a sheet mask on whilst you relax in a warm bubble bath. Or why not apply a hair mask and leave it on whilst you rediscover a love of reading?
I love yoga! If I am especially stressed, I like to watch a yoga video, so an instructor guides my breathing and the flow of my movements. I always feel so, so much better after gentle stretches and breathing exercises.
Whatever you try, I hope you have a more relaxed and happy August!