Relax and Unwind
10 Simple Exercises to Calm Your Mind and Help You Sleep
If you’ve been finding it hard to unwind lately, you’re definitely not alone. Here are a few exercises you can try before bed (or any time you’re feeling some extra stress) to bring some calm to your body and mind:
1. Belly Breathing
Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing is one technique that engages your diaphragm rather than your chest, where many people typically breathe from. To try it out, tart by lying down in a comfortable position. Place one hand on your upper chest and one just below your ribcage. Then, breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach rise, and out through your mouth, feeling the hand on your stomach fall inward.
2. Box Breathing
Focusing on your breaths can be an extremely helpful way to ground yourself in moments of high anxiety, especially when counting is involved. Box breathing (or square breathing) is another calming breath exercise that involves breathing out, holding your breath, inhaling, and holding your breath again for equal amounts of time -- try 4 seconds each. Breathe out for 4, hold for 4, inhale for 4, hold for 4, and breathe out for 4 again.
3. Body Scan
A body scan meditation is a great way to relax, especially before bed. Starting anywhere you’d like (like your head, or your left foot, or your right hand) shift your attention to each part of your body, paying attention to how it feels, noticing any discomfort or tension, and relaxing each part of your body as you go. By the end, you should feel more relaxed, grounded, and aware.
Yoga can be a great way to ground your mind and body through stretches, poses, and focused breathing. It can even reduce your heart rate and blood pressure! Check out these relaxing yoga poses to try before bed, or any time you need to find a little bit of serenity.
5. Tai Chi
Tai chi is good for more than self defense; this ancient Chinese exercise can be a great method for releasing stress and even sleeping better at night. It’s low impact, self-paced, and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Here are a few tai chi exercises you can try next time you’re feeling some extra stress in your body.
As simple as it sounds, “going to your happy place” can do wonders for relieving your mind and body from anxiety! The best part is that all you need to practice visualization is your own mind, so you can do it anywhere and any time you need to. Check out these visualization techniques that can help you find some inner calm.
7. Gratitude List
One of the best ways to combat our negative thoughts is to shift our minds to the things we’re grateful for; gratitude is an incredible remedy for anxiety, and you can implement it into your daily routine for increased happiness and lower stress levels. Before bed each night, try listing at least 3 things you’re grateful for, either in your head or on paper. Shifting to a positive mindset will relax you and calm your thoughts before you sleep.
Sometimes we get too into our own heads and forget to take time to notice what’s happening in our bodies and our environments. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to stay grounded in your body and help you relax. One way to do this is to focus on your senses: take some time to pay attention to what you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste.
9. Progressive muscle relaxation
If you hold a lot of tension in your body, progressive muscle relaxation can be a great way to release some of it. Similar to a body scan, this practice involves focusing on one part of your body at a time. Starting at your forehead and moving all the way down to your feet, squeeze each muscle to increase tension and before releasing it. Your body will feel so much more relaxed afterwards!
10. Lion’s Breath
Here’s one more breathing exercise! Lion’s breath, or simhasana, will help you relieve stress by “roaring” like a lion. Start in a comfortable position. Lean forward with your hands on the floor or your knees, spreading your fingers wide. Then, inhale through your nose, stick your tongue out, and exhale forcefully with a “ha” sound. Let your “roar” out this way up to 7 times, breathing normally in between.
If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or unable to get some decent rest, we want to help you find relief at Barker Wellness. That’s why we’ve created a line of products containing broad spectrum hemp extract (CBD) and other cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBN to calm your mind. Taking a few drops of our cannabinoid-infused oils can be a great addition to any of the relaxing exercises on this list, and hopefully it will help you sleep a little better at night.