Ashley_Rise_and_Shine-150You’ll never guess what my favourite one is… /sarcasm.

August 16th is National Relaxation Day. Too many of us either take for granted the need for relaxation, being on-the-go constantly and believing we’re none the worse for wear in doing so; or have simply forgotten that time needs to be made for it to happen, or we’ll burn out.

In a nutshell, chronic stress affects adrenal response. Your adrenal glands are responsible for many of your hormones, notably your stress response hormones (like cortisol) and your sex hormones (such as progesterone and testosterone). Over time you may find you’re tired, cranky, quick to anger, prone to dizzy spells, have brutal periods or menopausal symptoms, suffer from infertility, and/or suffer from a low sex drive.

So show your adrenals some love and bring some relaxation back into your life. These are my top 3 favourite strategies – try one (or more) tonight!

1 – Sex. (Or some serious cuddle time.)

Sexual activity and particularly orgasm cause the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which produce feelings of relaxation and contentment. Booking some time to get physical with your partner (or on your own), therefore, can do amazing things for getting into a relaxed state of being.

That said, it might also seem counter-intuitive to put sex at the top of this list, given that sex drive is one of the first things to go out the window when your adrenals are shot. Remember that sexual activity in this context does not necessarily mean full-on intercourse or masturbation. Some research indicates that just receiving a long hug or kiss from our partner can also release these hormones. The trick here is to really slow down, breathe deep, and enjoy that cuddle time – housework, errands, work stuff can all wait a minute or three. Focus on the warmth of your partner’s body, the taste or smell of their skin, or the sound of their breathing.

Is your libido lackluster? Check out my top 5 favourite foods for a healthy sex drive!

2 – Tea time.

Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, and many cultures make a point each day to sit down with a cup. You can turn tea time into a relaxing daily ritual through not only your choice of which herbs to infuse, but also in selecting your cup, your teapot, your infusing device or method, what to eat along with your tea, the time of day for your ritual, etc. It’s up to you – the idea is to make it a calming and mindful habit.

IMG_20160816_144332As for which herbs to infuse, some calming options include rooibos, lemonbalm, passionflower, chamomile, spearmint, lavender, catnip, and oatstraw. Most of these herbs also make great tonics for aiding sleep, perfect for a bedtime tea ritual. Green and black teas, even though they can be high in caffeine, also contain the amino acid l-theanine, which is known for helping reduce anxiety and improving focus, perfect for a morning or afternoon boost. One of my favourite tea rituals is making a matcha latte in my favourite mug, whisked with almond milk, and enjoyed alongside a piece of dark chocolate or a raw macaroon.

And if you don’t like tea? Well, make a ritual of coffee, fresh juice or smoothie, baking muffins, or making dinner. Get absorbed in the action of doing, making, enjoying.

3 – Meditation. (Not just for lotus pose.)

When you think of meditation, most likely you’re thinking of someone sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by candles or pillows, softly humming “ommm”. And for many people, this image is perfectly heavenly. For those who don’t find this image appealing, meditation can be done in other ways. Do it while sitting in a chair or lying in bed; do it while listening to your favourite song; do it while standing in line at Starbucks. Like the tea ritual or taking time to hold your partner, the idea here is to get your mind into the present and away from distracting thoughts.

You don’t have to be completely still and stationary to meditate, either: try an adult colouring book, playing an instrument, practicing yoga or tai chi, or similarly work on a hobby. Put your presence into the colours you choose, the sounds you produce, the movements of your limbs.

Now schedule some time, 15 minutes to an hour, at least once a week to start for some relaxation time in whatever way you choose. Be consistent, creative, and stick to it. Breathe deep, stay present, and let the stress fall away.

What are your favourite ways to relax?

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