We advise our clients about the best products, techniques and overall hair care every day. But sometimes the secrets to achieving healthy hair and ultimately a healthy body/mind can’t be done by just throwing money at the problem. Here we look at some of the things you can do that are completely free. Remember a happy, content mind will make for a better response to any issues that may arise.
It’s not as new-age as it sounds. No moonstones and patchouli oil required. In fact it’s really easy and effective.
It’s basically awareness; listening to your own breathing, looking at a view, or it can be whatever you like as long as you clear your mind of other thoughts and cares. You may find it helpful to repeat a mantra at the same time to make focus easier.
If you want something less free-form there are various types of meditation that you can learn from, Transcendental Meditation to Heart Rhythm Meditation. All have a different slant on awareness and relaxation.
Try it when you feel yourself getting stressed or as a preventative measure for 5 to 10 minutes a day.
2. Deep breathing
By slowing down your breathing and breathing from your diaphragm you can immediately relax yourself. When we are stressed we tend to take shallow breaths reducing our oxygen supply.
Stand up and breathe deeply into your stomach ten times. Imagine you are filling up a balloon as you breathe in through your nose, and deflating it as you breathe out through your mouth. It helps to put your hand gently over your tummy button and feel as your tummy pushes it out and then brings it back in as you breathe the air out.
This is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. It’s quite closely linked with meditation. The idea is to be mindful of something and appreciate it in that present moment and block everything else out.
It may be appreciating the colour of a flower or examining a piece of jewellery to see how it was made. Focusing on the present can reduce stress.
The key is to be free of technology, but if you must use technology, say a picture on a tablet and this is the subject of your focus, that’s fine.
“Turn off your screen, choose a common object like a pencil or a penny (not your phone) and begin breathing very slowly focusing on the object and describing it to yourself in as much detail as you can. Focussing completely and fully on something in the present, is said to be the essence of mindfulness.”
This shouldn’t take you more than 3 minutes or about 30 long breaths. This will make you feel very refreshed and ready to focus.
4. Listen to music
Music has the power to transform your mood. If you feel the tensions rising, stick on a little classical music to transport yourself to a higher plane or plug into your favourite song to revisit good times and happy memories.
Listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.
If you want to let off steam and get rid of pent up anger, stick on some rock or pop really loudly and belt out the song at the top of your voice.
Music therapy is a recognised way of improving mental health, according to the charity MIND.
Exercise is well known as a stress buster. When we do it our bodies release feel good hormones which make us calmer. Exercise also uses up some of the hormones that the body makes when it’s stressed.
The physical health benefits of exercise are well known but the mental health benefits are becoming more appreciated. GP’s can prescribe gym exercise programmes for people with depression.
It’s amazing how more centred and relaxed we feel after a short run or a workout. It also boosts our self esteem which makes us feel happier.
Yoga can be a quick route to relaxation. You don’t have to do a full blown hour long workout to appreciate some of the benefits.
Practising yoga for just 5 minutes a day factually lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Try closing your eyes (in the bath is a good place) and visualising a peaceful scene away from your current tensions. It could be a golden sandy beach with the azure waves lapping at your toes; it could be a warm bath with scented oils.
The idea is to take your mind off the current worry and transport yourself and your mood to somewhere relaxing and calm. The more detail you imagine the calmer you’ll get.
8. Have a cuppa
We know that tea drinking is a quintessential British thing to do, but it has great calming effects. Great for after a shock. The classic, common-sense way to relax may actually work!
Camomile tea is the traditional favourite for calming the mind but even normal tea may help us fight stress.
A 2010 study at University College London found that drinking black tea has a calming effect on stress hormone levels in the body.
Participants who drank regular black tea displayed lower levels of cortisol, and reported feeling calmer during 6 weeks of stressful situations than those who drank a placebo with the same amount of caffeine.
9. Go outside
If you are feeling frazzled at work or at home, one quick way to relax is to head outdoors. You get a fresh perspective on the problem and breathe in fresh air.
Twenty minutes outside doing just about anything will be beneficial.
10. Lastly find what’s best for you
Different activities work for different people. Some people may find reading a book or magazine for 10 minutes a good way to relax. Others may find therapeutic value in gardening or even cleaning!
Spending just a quarter of an hour doing something you enjoy can make all the difference. You could have sex, watch your favourite comedy show, walk the dog or stroke the cat – all relaxing activities to take the sting out of tension.
Stress effects us all, so it pays to have a few quick tricks up your sleeve to deal with them.