Methods for Rest & Relaxation As Preventative Medicine
Let’s face it, life can at times be complicated. It doesn’t matter if you are career driven, family oriented or just a plain old worry wart, we all get a little maxed out at times. “Me time” can be elusive and while we all know we should get the standard 8 hours of sleep a day and keep our stress levels low for optimal health, how many of us have trouble doing it? While it might be difficult, taking time for ‘me time’ is completely worth it! Not only will you feel better, you will be able to tackle all those tasks on your to do list a lot more efficiently and from a better frame of mind.
Getting the right amount of sleep is probably one of the best preventative and restorative things you can do, not only for your body, but your mind as well. While you sleep, your body repairs muscles and triggers the release of hormones that regulate growth and appetite. (Thats right, lack of sleep is linked to weight gain!)
For adults 7-8 hours of sleep is recommenced per night. If you find you have trouble doing this, avoiding stimulants like caffeine. Turning off the TV and cell phones an hour before bed can be very helpful as well. When you are able to get into a deep sleep and enter into a REM (rapid eye movement) cycle, your learning and memory are affected, new information is committed to memory, hormones that affect appetite are changed, your ability to concentrate improves and most importantly you avoid sleep depravation which alters immune function and can lead to a higher risk of infection and disease.
Relaxation is equally important. Deep relaxation improves stress, anxiety and mood. It can decrease your blood pressure, elevate your immune system and causes serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin (feel-good hormones) to be released. And there are so many easy ways to do this! Spend time with friends, find something that makes you laugh or unwind with a good book.
Another great way to get yourself into this space is to take a warm bath or foot soak with salts and essential oils. Researchers have found that using essential oils can help relive stress and anxiety symptoms therefore facilitating a deep state of relaxation. Epsom salts are also paramount. They contain magnesium, which one study suggests up to 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended intake. Magnesium deficiency can cause a wide array of symptoms from muscle cramps to
mental disorders to osteoporosis to, you guessed it, insomnia. You can head this one off with a nice bath or foot soak, adding in epsom salts, dead sea salts and essential oils of you choice, or you can keep it simple and pick up a bag of my favorite herbal reiki charged bath salts here. To make sure you’re getting the right amount it’s recommended to stay in the bath or foot soak at least 20 minutes and to repeat two or three times a week.
Aromatherapy for better sleep and relaxation is another great option. It's relatively inexpensive, easy and uncomplicated to work into your daily routine. Research shows that essential oils can provide relief for disrupted sleep and improve sleep quality in adults. Essential oils offer great therapeutic benefits. Some people are put off by the massive selection available on the market today, so let me give you a short list of common essential oils that work great for not only promoting rest and relaxation, but have other therapeutic benefits as well. To lift your mood, relive stress, improve your sleep and thus boosting your performance, try these favorites:
Not sure how to incorporate this into your routine? Don’t feel like purchasing and maintaining a pricy diffuser? No problem. Essential oils can be applied to your body directly. You can do this using carrier oils, a mister or using a body butter or lotion that contains these oils. Beware - take the time to make sure the product you are using actually contains essential oils and not artificial fragrances (which will not do anything except expose you to synthetic chemicals). Try using a completely natural body butter such as 'Sweet Dreams' from New Earth.
Lastly we come to metaphysical methods. Mediation, crystal therapy, and energy healing such as reiki are all also known to do wonders for stress and relaxation. The mayo clinic states “Mediation can produce a deep state of relaxation and tranquil mind." while millions across the worlds are awakening to the use of crystals for different purposes, such as the relief of insomnia, while others are using energy healing techniques like reiki. These Crystal Reiki Soy Candles provide a great blend of crystals, aromatherapy & reiki energy or if you are more interested in a full on healing session, a variety of energy healing offerings are available.
All of the above are great ways to unwind and promote the restful sleep that we all need to heal and function. Whatever your new routine includes be sure to pay attention to how you feel as you use different methods. The use of scent, aromatherapy, energy healing and crystals are highly individual experiences. We all react to these methods differently. Experiment and find the right combination for you and make it part of your regular routine. If something makes you feel alert and energized, it might not be the right thing for you to get into a sleep routine, but you can always use it in the morning to help get you rolling into your day!