Treat yourself to less stress
by Susan RinkunasStress making you crazy? We hear you. You probably know that some of the best ways to relieve stress include exercising, talking to friends, or simply getting outside. But what if you can’t make it to the gym for your one-hour workout?
It might be time for a little pampering. These eight strategies will not only help calm you down, but you’ll also feel legitimately spoiled in the process.
Decorate with lavender
This herb has a soothing scent that can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, both of which can help you relax and even drift off to sleep. Put dried lavender in a vase near your bed or slather on moisturizer infused with lavender
Have a chocolate-covered strawberry
When you’re stressed, you may be tempted to house every sweet treat in sight. But foods high in added sugar can increase your blood sugar levels and make you feel even more on edge. Instead, munch on strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. The vitamin C in the berries can fight body-damaging free radicals and the dark chocolate may help reduce stress hormones like cortisol.
Take a bath
Soaking in water has a soothing effect, experts say, since it connects us to our time in the womb. Add lavender bath oils or aromatherapy candles and you’re well on your way to complete Zen.
Give yourself a scalp massage
You know how good it feels when you get your hair shampooed at the salon? You can (and should) recreate that experience at home. To melt away tension, massage your scalp with your fingertips, moving from your hairline to the back of your head several times. Bonus: Scalp massages also help release natural conditioning oils so your hair will look even more gorgeous.
Get a Swedish massage
Not all rubdowns are created equal. This type of massage involves gentle, soothing strokes, which can improve circulation and help you chill out. You could also try an aromatherapy massage, where a therapist uses essential oils during the treatment.
Sip chamomile tea
Research shows that one of the compounds in this herbal brew binds to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium, which means the tea acts as a mild tranquillizer. Not a tea person? Chamomile supplements may also help reduce anxiety, according to at least one study.
Step in the sauna
If your gym has a sauna or steam room, use it after your next workout. When your body heats up, both muscle tension and anxiety subside, according to research. Plus, feelings of warmth can alter neural circuits that improve our mood. (This might be one of the reasons why exercise can make us feel amazing.)
Give yourself a foot rub
Reflexology is an alternative medicine therapy that involves applying pressure to different parts of the body. It may help ease stress, and possibly even help migraines. Do it yourself by running under the base of your toes to calm your head and massaging the ball of your foot to relax your chest, says reflexologist Mara Nicandro, director of Therapeutic Massage of Texas. Rubbing your big toes releases soothing endorphins, which can help you relax.