Stress is a factor in all of our lives. Worries about finances, relationships, work and life can leave us with our shoulders up and heads muddling over how we can solve daily problems. Other concerns like the rising costs of food, basic utilities and load shedding add to our woes.
Popular activities for destressing include lavish massages or spa treatments and even consulting with a therapist when the need arises. But these can be costly, and as stress is something that most people encounter daily, how can we make sure that self-care and de-stressing are both affordable and available to us at the drop of a hat?
Meditation is a great tool to use to reduce stress because it can be done anywhere and at any time. The effects of meditating include a relaxed mind, emotional balance and improved mental health. At its simplest, meditating is done by sitting down in a comfortable spot and breathing in and out through the nose and mouth.
Practise breathing deeply in through the nose once, holding your breath, taking a second deep breath through your nose and then a third, holding your breath there for three seconds and then exhaling through the mouth. Repeat this five times, with three intakes of breath through the nose and one exhale through the mouth.
To upskill yourself with different meditation techniques and listen to meditative music and guided meditation, download the free meditation app Insight Timer.
Exercise is beneficial for releasing stress and releasing feel good hormones like dopamine. Many people feel daunted by the idea of working out. A less complicated way of looking at exercise is that you want to simply increase your heart rate and move your body for 30 minutes or more, a minimum of three days a week. For those new to exercise, a great starting point is walking or brisk walking. Take 30 minutes out of your day to walk around your neighbourhood.
Chris Walsh, Owner of 360 Specialized Training says that “The key to a successful training regime is to enjoy it. Naturally, there will be some pain and struggle when you begin, but once you overcome the first few days, exercise will give you a changed life.”
“A question to ask to help motivate yourself is ‘What would you be doing if your body was one hundred percent how you wanted it to look and at its peak performance levels? Think big as you are completely uninhibited. Scaling Everest? Surf trip to Hawaii? Cape Epic? It could be multiple things. Work your goals back from there. After all, if you can think it, you can do it,” he adds.
At home spa
Relaxing spa experiences can be created at home with simple household ingredients. Epsom salts for example can be added to bowls of warm water to soak tired feet in and, for a relaxing muscle soak, added to bath water. To give your muscles the most relaxation, use one cup per bath. Massage oils or simple body lotions can also be used to give yourself a relaxing five-minute neck and shoulder massage after your bath or shower.
Invest in an oil burner and add an aromatherapy oil with a scent you love. This will enhance relaxation as part of your at-home treatment. “Once inhaled, certain essential oils have a positive effect by stimulating the feel-good hormones – endorphins – for instant happiness, relaxation and calm,” explains Sabashni Naidoo, Managing Director at Amani Spa Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront.
Essential oils can also assist in boosting energy levels and positive mood and focus. Consider lime to uplift mood or motivate creativity, lemongrass to invigorate the senses, pine to provide a boost of energy or thyme to increase energy and boost spirits.
Human beings are social creatures and factors like working from home can keep us stressed and isolated. To reduce stress, make sure that you are making time to see other people and talk about the worries that are on your mind.
Studies show that giving back to a cause or others can be good for your health and well-being. Look for a cause to give back to or a food programme to support to feel the de-stressing effects of focusing on helping others. A simple act like buying a Relate beaded bracelet not only supports the unemployed women who make them, but is also a worthy cause aligned to the style of bracelet you choose.
With these tools in mind, consider setting aside a few minutes each day to do something that goes towards your self-care. Self-care can be a healthy tool for you to enhance your well-being and gain a personal piece of mind.