Rest & Restore
Health & Fitness|Issue 243
It’s the most stressful – sorry, wonderful – time of the year. So now more than ever, it’s important to take time out to relax and rejuvenate. Luckily, there’s a whole host of new ways to do just that...
Jane Murphy

STRETCH AWAY STRESS

There’s good reason yogis always look so chilled. Did you know that yoga backbend poses help relieve anxiety and stress? Deepening your breath and stretching your spine, backbends bring you into a new state of calm and are said to open your heart and mind to new possibilities. Struggle to hold that pose? Stretch out with the support of this super cool, dual-sided Design Lab Infinity Yoga Ball (pictured, $27; designlab.com). Perfect for your living space, you can also use it for a quick workout at your desk – who said abs can’t be made in the office?

AND BREATHE...

Feeling overwhelmed, super-stressed or sleep-deprived? (Of course you are – it’s nearly Christmas!) Don’t panic – we’ve found a quick fix to help calm you. Breathwork coach Stuart Sandeman (breathpod.me) suggests a simple breathing exercise you can do anywhere.

‘The 4-7-8 breath is a powerful anxiety buster,’ he explains. ‘It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so we move from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest mode. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath while you count to seven. Exhale through pursed lips for a count of eight. Repeat for four rounds. This is a game-changer for helping you get to sleep, too.’

TRY SOME ASMR THERAPY

Heard of Auto Sensory Meridan Response (ASMR)? It’s a feeling of deep relaxation with a tingling sensation in the scalp and back of the neck, in response to certain sounds picked up by a microphone. These sounds can include whispering, gentle tapping, food being chopped or pouring water. And while this fast-growing trend may sound a little unusual, it’s certainly popular: self-styled ‘ASMRtist’ Sophie Michelle’s YouTube video has had more than 13 million views and counting! David Lloyd Clubs now offers live ASMR sessions with Sophie; davidlloyd.co.uk.

Get under a blanket…

...but not just any old blanket, we hasten to add. Weighted blankets offer a natural and effective way to reduce stress and regulate your sleep cycle. The reason? The physical sensation is very similar to being swaddled. This has a positive effect on the hormones that govern your nervous system, encouraging the release of calming serotonin and dopamine. It costs from £124.99 for a 5.5kg double Mela Comfort Weighted Blanket at melacomfort.co.uk.

NOD OFF

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