It has been a busy week, you’re stressed and all you want is to relax and enjoy the weekend but how do you unwind and leave the office behind you to make the most out of those magical two days you have off? Here are Belle’s top tips to unwinding and shaking off the working week to welcome the weekend!
1. Bathing Beauty
There is nothing more relaxing than sinking into a warm bath after a long week. Fill it with a decadent oil that will scent your skin, like Jo Malone’s Amber and Lavender oil (£38 from Jo Malone) or a luxuriant bubble bath such as La Compagnie De Provence Orange Blossom Foam Bath (£10 from John Lewis) which has sweet notes of orange blossom, golden honey and jasmine. Add to your relaxation by lighting some scented candles. The Florence by Tocca has a wonderfully heady fragrance of old European garden rose and iris (£33 from Space NK). Turn out the lights, turn off your phone so that you are not disturbed and play your favourite chill-out music. After getting out of the bath, coat your skin in a rich moisturiser, we love Bliss lemon and sage body butter (£20.50 from Bliss) While in the bath, put your pajamas on the radiator so that when you get out they are toasty warm. Now jump into bed with a good book and a cup of lemon and ginger tea and you will wake up refreshed and revitalised in the morning.
2. Cry Me A River
Letting emotions out is a great way to let out stress. Watching a sad movie allows you to cry which can actually help you unwind. Emotionally-induced tears contain protein-based hormones such as lactin and stress hormones, as well as leucine enkephalin, an endorphin and natural painkiller. One theory that scientists have is that having a good cry reduces the levels of stress hormones by excreting them through your tears. Either way letting out emotion, however you do it, is certainly better than letting it build up. Prepare for a cosy night in by ordering your favourite take-away, opening a bottle of red wine (the polyphenols in red wine help relaxation) and curling up with a slanket (£30.99 from Lakeland) no one needs to know and they really are wonderfully comfy!
3. Laughter Is The Best Medicine
The other emotion that can help us relieve stress is a having a laugh. Laughter not only releases stress hormones but it also increases endorphins and antibody producing chemicals which helps your immune system. Like a safety valve, a belly laugh allows you to let off steam. Comedy nights are held all around the country and it is a great place to go with a group of friends on a Friday night. The Comedy Store in London and Manchester is one of the oldest and best stand-up venues. Jongleurs also has venues up and down the country and you never know who might be trying out new material!
4. Walk This Way
Stress can make your muscles tense and a great way to alleviate that tension is through gentle exercise. Now no one likes the idea of sweating it out at the gym after a hard week’s work but going for a long walk in the park or along the river or canal while chatting with a friend is a great way to reconnect while letting off steam. As the weather gets warmer and nights get longer, going for a walk before dinner or drinks with friends can go further than just easing the physical effects of stress. It clears the head and gives you more ‘me’ time leaving you more centred and allowing you to make the most of your weekend.
Yoga is known to help soothe the body and mind. The combination of physical exercise and stretches with breathing techniques and meditation stills your thoughts and unwinds the tension in your muscles. Bikram yoga, a series of Hatha yoga poses done in a room warmed to 40 degrees celsius, is said to increase your feeling of relaxation and well being and increase blood flow. Even if you can’t find the time to attend a class, learn the poses through a good DVD like Ashtanga Yoga for Beginners (£8.49 from Amazon) which will teach you the basic sequence of postures known as Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation. Just doing these for 10 minutes each morning or evening will give you a calmer body and soul.
[picture credits: Justin Shearer; myyogaonline; Cindi Matthews; matthew_hull]