Learn how to simply switch off. We offer tips to unwind and relax – even for those who claim they have no time!
Time pressures, multi-tasking, stress, and general hustle and bustle – these days your body is subjected to a lot of pressure. It does not take a great deal of effort to keep up with it all, but a multitude of demands can throw off our internal balance and run down our batteries! Relaxation and regular phases of down time are essential for your health and wellness. There are many ways to accomplish this; some like to burn energy to relax, while others search for peace and quiet or immerse themselves in music. Phases of reclusiveness can be just as relaxing as being with friends. Discover new ways to help you switch off and learn relaxation tips that can be integrated into your daily routines.
Numerous years ago, scientists identified animal’s natural reaction to stress and called it the “fight or flight response” which applies to humans too.
When animals become stressed, and this generally happens when they are up against a natural predator, they have two options: run away as quickly as possible or attack. Both options go hand in hand with intensive physical activity during which stress is alleviated once more. This model is also suitable for humans. It makes it clear why we alleviate our stress much faster when actively relaxing than when we are simply plonked on the sofa in front of the television. Activity holidays, for example, have a much longer lasting relaxation effect than lazing around on the beach, as a survey by the German Sport University Cologne has shown.
In the animal world, another behaviour, the significance of which only becomes clear somewhat later, appeared in addition to the fight or flight response: stressed animals sometimes also directly look for their conspecifics in the area. Tend and befriend is how scientists refer to this reaction. This also explains why, in a survey on health insurance, “meeting friends” was named as a stress killer just as often as going for a walk – namely by 50% of those questioned.
Regular trips to a sauna benefits your whole body: as your body temperature increases the heat relaxes your musculature and lowers your blood pressures, all the while stimulating your circulation, metabolism and immune system. Furthermore, the high temperature prompts skin renewal (because your sweat loosens up hardened skin cells) and the increased blood flow to your skin can counteract ageing.
And if the physical benefits were not enough, you can top off your sauna experience with an aroma infusion. Simply dilute your favorite essential oil with water, be it lavender, blood orange, honey, herbs or menthol (there are countless different varieties), and pour onto the hot sauna stones. The resulting aroma not only does the respiratory tract good, the skin also absorbs it and helps relax your mind.
No time for a full sauna? You can easily create the sauna effect at home. In a large bowl, mix two drops of an essential oil in a litre of freshly boiled water. Put your head over the steaming water and cover your head and the bowl with a large hand towel. Breathe in deeply through your nose and then out through your mouth. This soothes the effects of colds, is expectorant, cares for the skin and disengages your brain.
To maximise all sauna and steam bath experiences, don’t forget to drink both before and after so you reap the full benefits of the purification effect. Remember mineral-rich waters like Gerolsteiner help replenish nutrients too!
It is becoming increasingly difficult to fully appreciate a moment and all its inherent details, because we have less and less time and our attention is pulled in many directions. Or, more accurately, we take less and less time to seize the moment. We have become used to being one step ahead of the here and now. Now, we’re learning that this is nowhere near as effective we once thought, because we have lost our ability to be mindful, which is so important for our inner well-being and peace. However, a few thoughtful actions is all that is needed to regain a little mindfulness. For example, take a moment out on your way to work and make a conscious effort to pay attention to all of the details around you: noises, smells, patterns, shapes – or the eyes of a person who crosses your path. Also pay attention to how you feel in this moment. Perhaps you will perceive things and enjoy sensations that you have previously overlooked. You can do these types of exercises, which are meditation exercises in principle, in any given situation during the day, whether in the shower, in the office or during your lunchtime. You can drag yourself out of the thought hullabaloo of everyday life for a moment and help yourself to perceive yourself and your environment in a more attentive manner.
Whether a nap, a snooze, a siesta or a power nap – sleeping during the day is most effective when we avoid reaching the deep sleep phase and the sleep inertia associated with this. This means we should not nap for longer than 20 minutes during the day! The Japanese have perfected the art of the power nap and take advantage of almost every opportunity to take a brief time-out. Dozing in public is known as “inemuri” and is even common and accepted in business meetings. Studies have shown that a short sleep around midday not only boosts your energy for the rest of the day, but can also reduce the risk of a heart attack. Napping at least three times during the week is advised. Seems like Hispanic countries that enjoy a daily ‘siesta’ have know this all along!
An increasing number of German companies are now providing nap rooms for their staff. Although the ability of the Japanese to have a nap whilst waiting for a train is very impressive, it is actually healthier to stretch out or to at least use a reclining chair. It has been documented that well-rested people tend to have fewer sweet cravings, so napping can also be good for your waistline!
Test our three relaxation tips for the daily routine and the office and our best tips for switching off and recharging. Or get started with our 2-hour-relaxation programm.