Summer time provides numerous opportunities. For many of us, we get time away from work or school, to travel, play, explore, and connect with friends and family. This time is important because it allows us to drop out of our normal daily routine and do something different. Many of us hope to use this time to relax, recover and unwind from the stress of our normal daily routine.
Often when we travel, play, explore and connect with friends and family the opportunities for drinking alcohol increase. Especially if we’re looking for stress relief or an instant mood changer. Alcohol is a well-known social lubricant, it gives many of us the courage to dance, talk to strangers and behave wildly. We often turn to alcohol to celebrate completion, whether it’s the end of a day, project, or other transition.
Although alcohol was provide that feeling – “ahhhh, that’s better!” – release from the first sip, it can also produce fatiguing side effects like: poor sleep, dehydration, agitation or anxiety, fogginess, and headaches. All of which are the opposite of relaxing. Drinking alcohol can also lead to a vicious cycle of drinking and depression. Alcohol is a type of drug known as a depressant this means that even though our initial reaction to alcohol sparks euphoria the long(er) term effects depress our brain’s functions and emotions. So, this summer, why not take a break from alcohol, relax and unwind alcohol free?
There are many tried and tested natural methods of relaxing. Many of them increase natural sleep too. Remember as you set out on this journey, you might experience a period of adjustment, it takes time to learn new habits like how to relax naturally.
Relaxation could be described as feelings of euphoria mixed with a little exhaustion! Knowing this we can set ourselves up for success and choose activities that produce this combination.
Here is a short list of ideas you could try:
- Find the sun: spend 10-15 minutes a day (preferably early morning or evening) outside (without sunscreen). Vitamin D from the sun is linked with producing feelings of satisfaction and contentment.
- Take a walk: a quick stroll around the block can provide you time alone, a little physical activity and a chance to clear your thoughts. The destination is not important, moving the body is the goal.
- Sing and dance: singing and dancing together or separately are aerobic activities that increase oxygen in the blood and releases endorphins (the body’s natural feel good hormone). At the end of the day, for some people, listening to classical music before bed can be especially relaxing. For others its finding some gentle music that sings in your heart! Explore (and leave the rap or rock music aside for during the day).
- Spend time in nature: time outside, or even looking at pictures of beautiful places can produce a feeling of awe or wonder and help us to connect to a sense of being part something greater.
- Get in the water: If possible get to the sea. Sea air is charged with negative ions which accelerate the body’s ability to absorb oxygen. The minerals in the water are remarkably similar to our blood plasma, while swimming your body can absorb use these beneficial nutrients and minerals. As well the rhythmic sound of waves helps lull the mind into relaxation. If getting seaside is not an option for you this summer, try a nice bath with sea salt and a playlist of ocean waves.
- See Blue: Whether it’s the water or the sky, exposure to vast blue(ness) can help generate a simple or quiet mind. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, calls it “blue mind”- “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment” (www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mental-benefits-water). Next time the sky is blue, take five minutes to lie down on the grass or bench and stare up into the sky, taking some deep tummy breaths.
- Close your eyes and breathe: shut the mind down and focus on breathing, this activates the body’s natural relaxation response, the parasympathetic nervous system. (This part of your body is also responsible for cellular regeneration). With just 10-15 minutes of deep breathing you can lower your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure, and naturally receive that “ahhh, that’s better!”, release from the very first breath.
- Substitute alcohol with fizzy water: try a glass of fizzy water, with a slice of lemon in it, when you fancy a glass of alcoholic fizz!
- Laugh: laughter also helps us to relax, so meet friends and laugh about your day, rent a comedy or listen to a young child playing.
- Socialise in alcohol free venues: if you want to meet friends and at the same time avoid drinking alcohol, then find venues to meet friends where alcohol is not served. Many middle eastern restaurants do not serve alcohol, go to the cinema, go to a yoga class and then for a juice afterwards! It´s time to get creative.
Know what also helps with relaxing… relaxing. Remember that relaxation techniques are skills. As with any new skill, your ability to relax can improve with practice. Be patient with yourself. And try not to let your efforts to practice relaxation become another stressor.
At La Crisalida Retreats our programme is designed to allow each guest to relax naturally, by combining, yoga, meditation, nutritious food or juices and walking in nature. We are 15 minutes walk from a stunning beach and a natural park. We also have plenty of sunbeds to allow you to relax by the pool, beneath the azure blue sky and a siesta time in the middle of the day. Click here for more information on our relax and rejuvenate retreats.
Enjoy your summer.
About the author
- Loves all types of yoga, including Hatha, partner yoga and laughter! Passionate about natural approaches to health