10 Ways to Stress Less on National Relaxation Day
a nation we seem to be incredibly stressed. Instead of bragging about the usual things, lately everyone complains about just how little sleep they’ve been getting. The Center for Disease Control website states that sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic, with a lack of sleep leading to motor vehicle crashes and even medical mistakes. They cite a publication by the Institute of Medicine, Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem, which declares that “sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules.” Not to mention the estimated 50 to 70 million US adults with sleep or wakefulness disorder.
In honor of National Relaxation Day, today, I propose that even if you can’t get the full recommended 8 hours of sleep each night, you try to unwind more.
1. Turn off the phone when possible. I know it seems hard to imagine a life without constant texts or emails, but try shutting your phone off about an hour before bed and keeping it off until a half hour after you wake up the next morning. It’s a liberating thing not to be tied to the texts and faux traumas of friends. If you have elderly parents, kids, or other needy relatives, consider setting your phone to private and only allowing certain phone calls access during those hours.
2. Keep your head up. I recently met a man from China who told me that in his country, people whose faces are always in their cell phones or tablets are called “heads down people.” He was saddened that instead of face-to-face interaction, people seem more interested in their tech toys. If you can’t seem to let go of your iPad for even a minute, why not try something that at least supports your device so that you don’t have to crane your neck or cause your hands to cramp? The Octa Monkey Kit is a tablet stand like no other. It attaches to the back of your table with a suction device and can be contorted in any way to best suit your position. ($70, Octa.com).
3. Try a better sleep environment. When is the last time that you did something as simple as updating your bedding or even buying a new pillow? As a life-long insomniac, I try never to sleep with music on because I find it to be hugely distracting. I recently tried the DreamPad, which combines soft ambient music that’s delivered through tiny speakers in a small foam pad that you can slip into your pillowcase on top of your regular pillow. I won’t bore you with all the set up details, but you can program sounds or music from your own device or one that can be purchased from the company. Somehow instead of being distracting, the music becomes soothing and can also be programmed to provide a wake-up call. ($179; Bluetooth receiver, $30, Dreampadsleep.com).
4. Sip Something. There are varying statistics about how healthy or harmful a glass of wine before bed might be. If you’re a believer in the power of the grape, Josh Cellars was named after the founder’s father and has a rich Cabernet Sauvignon that helps you ease into your evening. ($13, JoshCellars.com) If tea leaves are more your thing though, Get Some ZZZ’s herb tea has rooibos tea along with soothing mint and citrus notes ($11 for 36 bags, RepublicOfTea.com).
5. Soothe away the aches. Remember the old “Calgon take me away” commercials? Well, Calgon has changed with the times. Their newest body soak is Mint Green Tea Epsom salts which smell heavenly and ease the aches ($6,TakeMeAway.com ). If you can’t spring for a massage at the spa, ask your honey to rub your feet using one of the aromatherapy oils in the Weleda Body Oil Starter Kit. Arnica is great for aches, while the lavender scented one is most relaxing ($16 for six trial-size bottles). Another great way to use body oil is to combine oil with unscented moisturizer. I love Spa Ritual Close Your Eyes Egyptian Geranium Oil which has an incredibly soothing scent ($35,SpaRitual.com) .
6. Relax in style. You know how everyone seems to be wearing bracelets lately that track their steps? Here’s a newer idea, Philip Stein Horizon Bracelet looks like a really cool accessory with a metal disk in the center that is reminiscent of something Blake Lively might wear. The bracelet actually contains the brand’s proprietary “Natural Frequency Technology,” which is a disk that is finely tuned, similar to an antenna, to channel natural frequencies toward our bodies. These frequencies, which occur naturally in the environment, work to promote a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. I wore one on a particularly stressful day last week and could swear that I was mellower. ($225, www.philipstein.com).
7. Get some help in the kitchen. Picture this, you’d like to prepare a tasty meal for your family, but would rather spend some time enjoying the sunset in the park rather than be stuck in a hot kitchen. The new generation of Crock Pot Smart Slow Cooker can be programmed from your phone using something called WeMo technology. So whether you’re running late in the office and want to keep your dinner warm, or if you want to shut off your casserole while at the mall, all that you have to do is adjust your settings from the connected app. ($99, crock-pot.com).
8. Be an armchair traveler. Didn’t get to go anywhere exciting this summer? Air Wick’s National Park Collection has soothing wax melts that celebrate destinations including Denali and the Virgin Islands (Starting at $3 at drugstores nationwide). I’m also still obsessed with Diamond all soy candles which come in over 30 scents and have a hidden treat: a ring valued anywhere between $10 and $5,000! ($25, DiamondCandles.com)
9. Do yoga at home. I keep promising myself to start doing yoga again. I miss the flexibility I had and the peace of mind. In the meanwhile, I’ve been trying different DVDs including the Element Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexiblity with Ashley Turner. While it isn’t the same intensity as a class, it really helps me to unwind after a crazy day. ($10, Amazon.com).
10. If all else fails, try something completely different. Herb Pharm has a full line of super interesting herbal relaxation blends. Add a few drops of Anxiety Soother with exotic sounding ingredients like Bacopa herb and Albizia Stem bark to a glass of water to calm your frazzled nerves ($13, HerbPharm.com). If, like President Obama, you’ve been trying to quit smoking, you might have noticed a proliferation of e-cigarettes and other devices. If you find yourself intrigued by all the devices that allow you to vaporize liquid herbs, you might love The Ascent vaporizer by DaVinci. It’s a sleek and beautiful portable system that allows you to use liquid herbal supplements through a cool vapor system instead of mixing with water. Check out their full line of organic oils in flavors that will help with everything from calming down to breathing better. ($249 for the device; $36 for individual oils,Davincivaporizer.com)