Spa director reveals her top tips for reducing anxiety – including blowing up a BALLOON to ‘calm’ your breathing pattern and humming to ‘relax tense muscles’
A spa director has revealed her unique top tips to help reduce the feelings of anxiety.
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, UK-based Penny Weston, who works at Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat & MADE Wellness Centre in Staffordshire, has revealed her top tips for reducing worries and negative thoughts.
From blowing up a balloon to smashing plates, here are the expert’s number one pieces of advice.
UK-based Penny Weston, who works at Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat & MADE Wellness Centre in Staffordshire, has revealed her top tips for reducing worries and negative thoughts. Nella foto, immagine stock
1. Blow up a balloon
According to the spa director, a change in our breathing pattern can often be the first physical sign that our bodies are feeling anxious.
To bring your breath back to its calmer and deeper equilibrium, try blowing up a balloon,’ advises Penny. ‘In doing this, you will be forced to breathe in the way that you are meant to by activating the diaphragm and breathing slowly and deeply.’
Aggiunge: 'Infatti, the act of simple exhalation stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system which is married to relaxation and rest.’
The expert goes on to say how for many, balloons are associated with a happy time, whether it is carefree childhood memories or more recent celebrations with family and friends, which she adds ‘allows for a point of focus during the breathing exercise.’
2. Break something
Penny suggests a slightly more unconventional but satisfying tip is to release any pent-up anxiety or bottled-up feelings by breaking something.
‘We have all felt intense stress and anxiety at some point, whether it is work, famiglia, relationships or just general adulthood,’ lei spiega. ‘The rise in anger rooms over the last few years is unsurprising and the ability to be able to throw a solicited temper tantrum is freeing!’
She goes on to advise blowing off steam and smashing a plate in a safe environment – adding ‘you’ll feel much better.’
The spa director continues: ‘Destructive therapy, as it is commonly known as, provides the scenario for you to truly let go without dealing with the consequences which may usually occur with destructive behaviour. There is no getting into trouble or clearing up – you can simply use the time to release all of your negative feelings.
3. Activate your nostrils
As far as the Spa director is concerned, smell is one of our most powerful senses and has been proven to affect our emotions and actions.
‘Reduce stress by incorporating essential oils into your daily routine,’ she advises. ‘We incorporate essential oils with a strong yet calming scent such as Lavender or Bergamot into Moddershall Oaks treatment menu and this can easily be done at home too.’
‘You can make your own scented spritz by mixing 10-15 drops of essential oil and one ounce of water in a spray bottle. This can then be used as a natural room spray, pillow spray or linens, amongst other uses, for a calming home environment.’
She goes on to say how these soothing smells can enhance the effects of the brain chemical GABA on the nerve cells to ‘encourage feelings of wellbeing and stress relief.’
4. Go Bananas!
Penny notes that banana’s are packed full of potassium which she says is a ‘wonder nutrient for our health.’
Praising the benefits of the fruit, she continues: ‘Not only does potassium send more oxygen to the brain, it also helps to regulate your blood pressure and keep your stress down.’
‘Potassium is also proven to help the muscles relax and prevent them from cramping which is perfect for when you’re feeling tense and uptight.’
Speaking of the MADE Café at the spa where she works, Penny continues: ‘Banana is a prominent ingredient on our menu – especially our Recharge Smoothie which contains Mango, Pineapple, Banana, Coconut Yoghurt and Coconut Milk.’
The spa director has revealed her unique top tips to help reduce the feelings of anxiety – including blowing up a balloon to ‘calm’ your breathing pattern. Nella foto, immagine stock
5. Make some music
Have you ever experienced the tingling feeling in your lips when you hum?
‘There is a reason why humming plays an important role during meditative practices,’ says Penny. ‘Research has shown humming is much more than a self-soothing sound but also affects us on a physical level.’
According to the spa director, the action of humming alone can relax tense muscles and warm up the vocal cords while improving airflow to your lungs.
‘As our voice boxes are attached to the vagus nerve, when we hum we are activating this which helps to reduce a stress response,’ she continues. ‘This nerve then essentially tells our brains we are OK and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to relax us.’
‘Humming also helps to control the levels of inhalations and exhalations, particularly helpful to regain a steady breath.’
‘Remember, your choice of tune is important too, so make sure that it is a cheery one that is associated to happy memories.’
6. Play with pets
While it’s well known a dog is a man’s best friend, Penny points out that the companionship of any pet can have a powerful effect on our emotions.
‘Pets, especially household animals such as dogs and cats, can help to reduce stress, ansia, depression along with easing loneliness,’ lei dice. ‘Offering a soothing presence, pets can help to distract from negative thoughts and encourage more playful touch and interaction.’
‘This can cause your body to produce more happy hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine which can help to offset anxiety.’
Aggiunge: ‘Pets can also provide a sense of security and allow owners to feel wanted and needed, particularly valuable for older people who may live alone.6’
7. Solve a puzzle
The spa director goes on to suggest there’s often nothing better than settling down for an evening and enjoying a puzzling game of sudoku.
‘Puzzles can also be a great option if you experience anxiety on a regular basis as problem solving is known to lower anxious feelings,’ she notes. ‘By putting things in order, anything from a crossword to jigsaw puzzle, is a set reminder that you are not out of control.’
‘Once the puzzle is complete, it also feels like a reward which can help combat negative feelings, such as mood or anxiety.’
Penny adds: ‘Small achievements can be huge when suffering with anxiety, so a puzzle is a great in-the-moment exercise.’
Penny questions: ‘Did you know smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy?’
Expanding on her theory of ‘fake it until you make it,’ she continues: ‘Our brains then produce feelings of actual happiness as a result. This is because when we smile our brains release tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress.
‘Even on a particularly bad day, forcing yourself to smile just for a short period can help to reduce stress and lower heart rate.
‘When smiling, we typically think of happy memories and forget about any thoughts causing anxious feelings.’