Some of the ways you relax after a hard day’s work – like watching TV shows or having sweets – may temporarily make you feel calmer, but there are healthier ways to reduce tension that have a better impact on your health. Practicing relaxation regularly can have physiological benefits on your body, including a decrease in your heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, a reduction in muscle tension, as well as decreased anxiety and improvements to your overall well-being. When you feel relaxed and at ease, you feel more in control during challenging situations, which leads to calm, realistic responses. Here, find some healthy ways to unwind that will also have you feeling better as a whole.
Brew a cup of black tea. If sipping a hot beverage is something you associate with relaxation, brewing the tea yourself by putting a kettle on and waiting for water to boil may also decrease stress, according to some research. Other studies have discovered that drinking black tea can help lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
Indulge your funny bone. If you’re having a stressful day at work, watch a video that’ll make you smile during your break or, read a joke or funny cartoon. Researchers say that laughter is a great form of stress relief that enhances your intake of oxygen immediately, as well as stimulating circulation in the body and helping your muscles relax. So go ahead and give yourself permission to giggle for a few minutes – you’ll feel better and do your body good!
Practice yoga regularly. Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve your mobility, flexibility and balance, according to some studies. It may also help relieve and/or alleviate chronic conditions, including depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia. If you’re new to the practice, try a beginner’s DVD or visit a studio in your neighborhood and give it a few sessions to start reaping the post-practice relaxation benefits.
Steal a kiss from your partner. Kissing, cuddling, and even lovemaking with your special someone can cause your brain to release feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. If you don’t have someone to smooch, hug any loved one for at least 10 seconds so your body can release the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and cause the stress hormone levels to drop.
Eat a “healthy” happy meal. Include low-fat turkey as part of your next meal or snack to boost your mood. Turkey is rich in L-tryptophan, an amino acid that triggers the release of that relaxing brain chemical, serotonin. Have rolled-up deli turkey slices as part of your snack with fruit or veggies, or use lean ground turkey as the base for tonight’s healthy dinner.