So, just a few weeks left before your holidays? This can be a stressful time between taking care of wrapping things up at the office, booking accommodations or other reservations, plus just keeping up with the usual everyday things. It's no wonder you're overwhelmed! It's hard to flip the switch to relaxed mode and imagine yourself lounging on a beach when the mood just isn't there.
Domyos lets you in on some secrets that will help you set off for your holiday with peace of mind and a spring in your step!
Focus on your immediate priorities
Stop and take the time to make a list of your immediate priorities. Set aside everything that isn't critical and which you realistically won't get to before you leave. Keep yourself from rushing from pillar to post by making a schedule that will help you stay organised and do things in their proper order. This will allow you to tie up the last-minute loose ends more calmly, knowing that you've already taken care of the essentials.
Leave nothing behind
As far as your job goes, avoid leaving pending work in the hands of others during your holidays! Plan things out ahead of time so that you can wrap up your projects and complete your tasks in time. You'll have a lot more peace of mind if you are able to totally unplug from your job without worrying about what might be waiting for you when you get back. You'll feel much better if you haven't left loose ends behind that could go wrong or reflect poorly on you.
Engage in sports or exercise
A few weeks before D-day, do some sports or exercise in order to oxygenate your body! There's nothing better than letting off steam to help you forget the day's worries. Physical exercise will have a positive effect on your mood and help you find your balance by setting your worries aside. Just 25 minutes of exercise is enough for your body to release endorphins—hormones that give you a feeling of well-being and bliss. So just let go and free your mind, and let your body do the talking by giving your fitness levels a boost!
Make an effort to relax
Read on for some tips on how to properly manage your emotions and stress levels.With just a few simple relaxing exercises, you'll quickly unwind and start to feel better.
Learn to breathe correctly: relaxing breathing
Dr. Sylvain Baert, sports psychologist and member of CROPS*, explains the foundation of all relaxation: breathing.
"Many people breathe using their thorax (expanding their chest and keeping their stomach in when inhaling). Instead of full and deep breathing (from the abdomen), their breathing is halting (thoracic breathing). True deep breathing imparts a great sense of calm and awakens your mental abilities. Abdominal breathing works out the parasympathetic* branch of your autonomic nervous system, which allows the body to relax. It is therefore important to learn so-called "abdominal" or "belly breathing"."
It's a scientific fact: our breathing impacts our autonomous nervous system.
Dr. David Servan-Schreiber explains: * When we breathe normally, using shallow breaths (with the thorax or chest), we stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which receives orders and increases our body's level of anxiety. On the other hand, slow and deep breathing allows the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to block the anxiety-inducing effects of the sympathetic system. This triggers a feeling of relaxation and brings the body into a calm state.
Dr. R. Abrezol explains further: "Through this natural movement (abdominal breathing), your diaphragm—which has otherwise been motionless—will expand or contract each time you inhale or exhale. This movement, which does not occur when breathing using the thorax or shoulders, gives the solar plexus as well as the internal organs of your abdominal region a deep massage each time you inhale. (The solar plexus is the centre of the neurovegetative nervous system, located between the navel and the sternum.) This causes anxiety felt in the solar plexus to spontaneously disappear."
Do the following abdominal breathing exercise while sitting on the floor with your back against a wall, or while laying flat on your back.
- Breathe in through your nose, slowly and deeply.
- Place one hand on your stomach and exhale through your mouth while gently sucking in your stomach (you can gently push on your stomach with your hand).
- Then inhale through your nose by expanding your stomach only (your stomach should swell).
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth. Your exhale should be slower than your inhale.
- Repeat the entire routine three times.
Dr. Sylvain Baert adds that controlling your breathing in this way (performing about six breathing cycles per minute using slow breathing, compared with 12 to 20 cycles during your normal breathing pattern) helps your body achieve cardiac coherence** that is linked to a relaxed, calm state.
Focus on the now
This is known as the mindfulness technique. The following quote from Leonardo da Vinci explains why this is important: "Man looks without seeing, listens without understanding, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, travels without experiencing, breathes without being aware of fragrances or scents, and speaks without thinking".
With that in mind, how does one live in the present, the now? Several times a day, train yourself to focus all your attention on your breathing, or on a neutral object. Each time that you feel your mind begins to wander, bring it back into focus.
Faithfully applying this method will help you handle your emotions better and learn to accept them and control them. The main benefit of becoming fully conscious is that you live totally in the present, right now, this exact moment.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out of "auto-pilot" mode and live in the "now" in order to relax and enjoy your holidays to the full!
Imagine yourself on vacation already!
Employ the relaxing imagery technique to help you unwind! This technique consists of letting your mind escape to a real or imaginary place that is completely positive (happy memories, upcoming holidays, etc.)
How to do it
Take several deep, relaxing breaths. Then picture yourself on holiday in a paradisical island or some other place that is calm, positive and pleasant. Feel yourself completely laid back, stretched out and relaxed, soaking up the sun's soft and warm embrace. Let the sights, sounds and sensations flood into your mind as if you were really there. Picture each detail of this real or imaginary place—the colours, shapes, people, waves, palm trees, white sands. Feel the breeze, the sun's warmth, the hot sand under your feet. Drink in and enjoy the feelings of well-being, peace and serenity that this special place provides.
Take it further
For those who wish to try additional techniques, learn about sophrology or the Jacobson relaxation techniques (physical and mental relaxation exercises).
Or join in on some yoga, qi-gong or tai-chi classes at your local Domyos club before heading out on holiday. And remember: worrying will do you no good; holidays are made for relaxing!
Just between us ...
Isabelle Ranghino, Domyos Wellness product manager, shares her secrets on how to set off on holiday calmly and peacefully.
"How can you get rid of that pre-holiday stress? I have my own routine that I religiously follow! Here it is:
- I reconnect with nature, and clear my mind and spirit while I walk.
- I start off my days with 10 minutes of the "5 Tibetan rites" yoga (an active gymnastics routine made of up 5 simple asanas or yoga positions).
- I practise slow abdominal breathing.
- I spend 5 minutes a day working on my cardiac coherence.