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Stress is a normal, even necessary, physical response to possibly threatening or upsetting situations. But, too much stress can be harmful for your physical and mental health. Relaxation may well be the best thing you can do for yourself. It can benefit your heart, immune system, memory and so much more. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve stress in just 8 minutes or less!
Excess stress can prevent getting enough sleep. And, not getting enough sleep carries a psychological toll which in turn, can create more stress in your life. In a study by the American Psychological Association, when sleeping less than 8 hours, more than 40% of participants reported feeling overwhelmed, irritable or angry. Half reported losing patience or yelling at their children, partners or spouses. They were also more likely to skip exercise, a proven stress reliever. Getting enough sleep is important to prevent this downward spiral.
The three ingredients to a good night’s sleep are comfort, temperature and support. Comfort can come from both your bed and your bedding. In bedding, our research has shown that comfort is created by proper support from your pillow, light weight on top of you and temperature regulation. Keeping your room temperature to 65 degrees is the recommended setting. If your bed isn’t giving you the right pressure support by being either too firm or too soft, a featherbed mattress topper can rejuvenate your bed and provide a more restful sleep.
More tips on sleeping
Meditation is a proven way for stress reduction for several reasons including stimulating more blood flow throughout the body and brain. Just follow these simple steps on how to meditate in just 5 to 10 minutes:.
Find a comfortable and quiet place to meditate that is safe from interruptions.
Sit upright in a chair or cross-legged on a cushion. It will be most comfortable if you can have your hips at a higher level than your knees.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus on your breathing. It can be helpful to start with 3 deep belly breaths. This tells you your mind and body to relax.
If you find yourself thinking, just refocus on your breathing without judgment.
Yoga is known as meditation in movement for good reasons. The ancient practice combines the benefit of physical activity designed to promote flexibility, improve muscle tone, and boost muscular strength as well as mental relaxation because of its focus on proper breathing.
Do yoga poses - a minute for each pose - every day to enjoy the benefits:
This article from Uplift has 13 easy poses that anyone could tackle in just a few minutes to calm their nerves.
And, if you are feeling more ambitious, try these poses from yoga journal, they have 30 to choose from and easy-to-follow instructions.
Deep breathing pumps more oxygen into the body, so to speak, which reduces stress levels. Experts recommend trying these three types of deep breathing and then determining which one works best for you:
Stimulating breath, a technique used to increase alertness and energy in a positive manner
4-7-8 breath, a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system
Breath counting, a technique used in Zen practice
Exercise lessens stress levels, too, but you need not engage in strenuous exercise – even a short nature walk through a neighborhood park will suffice. Not only will you be able to enjoy distance from the source of your stress, but you will also enjoy the fresh air, warm sunshine, and beautiful scenery.
Aromatherapy is based on connection between your sense of smell and your brain – when you smell lavender, for example, you are more likely to relax. Just light an aromatic candle, pour scented bath salts into your bath water, and open a jar of potpourri, and enjoy its benefits.
Studies have shown that playing with a companion pet can lessen stress levels. Playing accomplishes two things – physical activity and distracts the mind, both necessary in stress reduction.
What are you waiting for? Adopt these natural relaxation remedies and start becoming the master of your stress!