Between work, cultivating personal relationships, and trying to be an engaged citizen, I don't think I've been relaxed since I had a Razor phone. If I had know that feeling constantly overwhelmed was part of the adulthood package, I probably would've pulled a Peter Pan years ago. But alas, I didn't, so here I am, facing the anxiety-inducing life of a grownup like the rest of you. If you're like me, you've probably tried dozens of fads to try to destress with no luck, so I'm thinking of giving old-fashioned relaxation techniques a try instead.
Although anxiety levels have never been higher in the United States, according to Newsweek, humans being stressed out isn't a new thing. Apparently, people have had trouble relaxing since, well, always. We have records of stress dating back to 2000 years ago, according to scientists and authors Florent Elefteriou and Preston Campbell in their book Bone Cancer, a portion of which is available via Science Direct. But the good news is that because people have been tense since the dawn of time, tried-and-true relaxation techniques have been around for almost just as long. And really, some people find that old-fashioned health tips are more effective than modern trends — why fix it if it ain't broke?
So if you're ready to try to something "new," read on for seven old-fashioned relaxation techniques that will bring you peace of mind and have you feeling calm from your head to your toes.
1. Practice Jin Shin Jyutsu® Self-Care
People always suggest I get a massage when I'm stressed, but I've never liked the idea of someone pressing aggressively on my back for an hour. Enter Jin Shin Jyutsu®, an ancient Japanese practice that "stimulates the relaxation response ... and stimulates the body's natural healing process" through a series of light touches on key points in the body that experts in the field call "safety energy locks," explains Teri Meissner, a Jin Shin Jyutsu® practitioner. The practice has been around for literally thousands of years. It's basically the opposite of a massage because of the lack of pressure, and you can benefit from it whether you practice for a couple minutes or an hour. Who knew stress relief was just a touch away?
2. Wear Baltic Amber
If you're carrying stress in your body, wearing a Baltic amber bracelet or necklace near the area that's holding the anxiety could help you feel more relaxed. According to Michelle Moro-Howard, a healing specialist and owner of Hippie Hooplah, "Man has been using amber dating back to the Paleolithic Age" to help with pain and healing. The material contains an acid called succinate that is believed to help restore oxygen levels in our cells, she explains, which can then help counter pain and inflammation, both of which are symptoms that can prohibit one from fully relaxing. There isn't any definitive science to prove amber will help with pain, at the very least, it may offer some peace of mind.
3. Practice Pranayama, The Mindful Breathing From Yoga
Relaxation is obviously a benefit of yoga, but you might not realize how much the breathing exercises — called Pranayama— your instructor makes you do during classes matters to help connect your mind and body to make you feel centered. Plus, there's actual science to back up what yogis has been preaching for centuries: the American Institute of Stress found that breathing deeply through the abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes a day physically reduces stress and makes us feel calmer.
Check out these instructions on Pranayama breathing from the Yoga Journal if you can't wait until your next class to get started.
Reading definitely falls in the down time category, but did you know there's scientific proof that people feel more relaxed after they read? In 2014, Mindlab International at the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes can reduce your stress by 68 percent, reported The Telegraph. Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis said in the article that the practice can "slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles," physically relaxing you in under ten minutes. So instead of watching tv when you get home from work, try cracking open a book instead. It might help you wind down more than an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
5. Go For A Walk Outside
We all know exercise gives you endorphins (thanks, Elle), but you could be getting more out of your daily workout if you take things outside. As Jamison Monroe Jr., Founder & CEO of Newport Academy explains to Romper via email, spending time outdoors "stimulates the nervous system’s relaxation response. Being outside in nature actually lowers levels of the stress-associated chemical cortisol." Cortisol is known for wreaking havoc on the body, increasing the sugars in your bloodstream and messing with almost every part of your body from your brain to your immune system, according to Mayo Clinic. So anything that can decrease it will be good for you.
6. Go To A Ganbanyoku Spa
Ever heard of people going to a spa and lying on a bed of hot rocks? The treatment, called Ganbanyoku, is believed to have major relaxation benefits. It's said to have originated in Japan hundreds of years ago when people saw arctic monkeys laying on hot volcanic stones for extended periods of time, growing into the edgy spa treatment we know it as today. A study at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine from 2008 found that the moods of women who got regular treatments improved markedly after each session, reducing their overall stress levels.
7. Drink Valerian Root Tea
If you're anything but relaxed at the end of the day, try sipping on valerian root tea ($5, Amazon) just before bed. It's helped people chill out for literally thousands of years, Bustle reported. It's calming effect is especially helpful if you have bedtime anxiety, as its known for helping people fall asleep faster and sleep through the night, according to Verywell. Considering how many Americans struggle with falling asleep and getting quality sleep, it can hurt to try it.