top 10 ways to keep cool
Feeling a little frenzied? Don't let stress get the best of you-stay calm with a few easy exercises. We've asked several experts on relaxation how to relieve tension on those busy days surrounding your wedding.
- Aromatherapy is an easy, at-home treatment that's inexpensive and totally relaxing, says Deborah Evans, executive director of the Grand Floridian Spa and Health Club at that Disney World resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. A favorite scent-try a lavender essential oil-can be added to the bath or mixed with lotion for an effect that's calming but not sedating.
- More on baths: They have a cleansing effect, inside and out, so soak in a tubful of bubbles and feel tensions melt away. While spas offer many soothing baths (with therapeutic add-ins such as sea salt, mustard, etc.), it's a quick-and-easy home remedy, too. Dip into water in the 90-degree range-the ideal temperature for best benefits. Add aromatic herbs for their revitalizing vapors.
- Need to boost your energy level in a natural way? Evans recommends dry skin brushing. It exfoliates and is great for circulation, giving your skin a slightly pink tint. Here's how to do it: Using a dry bristle brush or loofah, work small brush strokes on the bottom of left foot, then move up left leg. Repeat on right side. Use a circular motion on hip area. Work up from left hand and arm in same way. Repeat on right side. Use light circular motions around breast area.
- A simple scalp massage, says Evans, can do wonders to relieve tension in the head and neck area. With fingertips, just work around your head in deep circular motions.
- The ancient art of yoga is extremely beneficial in reducing everyday stress, notes Christi Minarovich, a practicing yogi and instructor at Chelsea Piers in New York City. For starters, try the simple swadhi hara exercise: Sit in a chair with feet hip distance apart. Assume the chin mudra (hand posture) with hands on knees, palms up. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Now count to six with each inhale and exhale. On the fifth breath in, hold it for six counts, then exhale for six counts.
- Another relaxing yoga technique recommended by Minarovich is a sun breath variation: Sit in a chair. With an inhale, press feet to the floor and stand. Exhale in place. Inhaling, open arms out to sides and up touching fingertips over your head. Look toward hands. Exhale. Extend arms back to sides. Look toward your feet. Repeat slowly six to 10 times, feeling your whole body come to a balanced and oxygenated state.
- Visualization, also known as "guided imagery," is a process that lets your brain take you to a peaceful place. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a very soothing and pleasant spot or situation. This helps bring your body and brain into a fluid state.
- The natural approach to health and well-being is also promoted at Ettia Tal's Holistic Day Spa in New York City. Tal advises the following: Go for a walk in the woods or park breathing deeply into "your core." Place three fingers just below your naval, pressing in gently while breathing in and out. Since this area is a major vitality point, this exercise helps increase energy, reduce toxins and keep you more focused. Repeat 15 times.
- Tal also recommends this Japanese method of relieving stress: Soak feet in hot water, then vigorously rub dry with a towel to stimulate circulation. Next, massage toes five times each in a clockwise then counterclockwise direction; when done, pull out on each toe. Next, place feet in lap and massage soles first with fingertips, then fists and finally with tapping motions.
- This simple exercise for releasing tension from the neck and back can be done anytime: Bring shoulders up to ears, squeeze hard, then drop. Repeat 10 times. You may also slowly rotate your head in a circular motion, and repeat.