The kids need to get to school on time, you have to run a thousand errands, and there just isn’t enough time in the day. Are you feeling stressed? Quite simply, you should be because life isn’t easy, especially when other people need your attention. The thing is because there aren’t enough hours in a day, it feels as if there is no time to relax. Even a Netflix binge at the end of a tough 24-hour is out of the question.
So, those things that other do to relieve stress aren’t going to be on your to-do list. Well, exercising or going for a massage might make the top ten, but you won’t tick them off anytime soon. No, what you need is to eradicate tension without leaving the confines of your home. Yep, it is the dream, and yes, it is possible.
Here are the six ways to make it happen. For a bonus, the following should work in five minutes or less.
Cook A Meal
As stressful as it sounds, preparing food is very relaxing once the heavy lifting is out of the way. In fact, lots of people find chopping onions and sautéing vegetables pretty cathartic. The trick is to turn up the volume on the radio, pour a glass of vino, and take your time. Yes, the dish has to be on the table when the kids get home from school, but you can leave it to simmer for hours if need be. Actually, slow cooking a piece of meat in a gravy sauce is as delicious as it is relaxing. All you have to do is use up the leftovers and throw them in a pan with some stock. Then, turn the heat down low and check on it every couple of hours to make sure. Voila! Does that sound like a tense day in the kitchen?
Grab A Quick Burst Of Energy
Sometimes, waiting for a meal to cook is too long. After all, a factor in the build-up of stress is a lack of energy. When the muscles and the brain don’t have enough fuel, cortisol begins to form. Once these levels reach a certain limit, it can feel as if your head is about to explode. Thankfully, some foods are readymade and contain the nutrients the vital organs need to work efficiently. You’re going to love this – chocolate is a prime example. Yep, the brown stuff you only like to eat sparingly is a nerve calmer. According to reports, it regulates the metabolism as well as the stress hormone we have previously mentioned. Always go for dark chocolate with over 70% cocoa for health reasons.
But not just any old rubbish. No, only the best will do for those of you who need to calm down within the next 300 minutes. There is a reason the poms drink it like it’s going out of fashion! That motivation is called L-Theanine, a chemical which does something remarkable. Studies prove this element helps to relieve anger and reduce the possibility of mood swings. So, instead of going purple with rage, you can go green with relaxation instead. Sure, it’s not the colour of stress relief – what is? – but L-Theanine is found in green tea and herbal remedies. Therefore, a cup of this emerald coloured goodness should make you feel at ease instantly. If you use a teabag, leave it in the mug so that the chemicals continue to absorb into the water. Herbal drinkers should pour out the bits before taking a sip.
Play An Instrument
Letting your fingers tickle the ivories or strum a set of guitar strings is incredibly relaxing. As soon as the tones begin to sound from the instrument, the mind drifts off into another world. Plus, experienced players can jam on autopilot so there is no need to concentrate. All you have to do is let the equipment do the work and follow the notes on a musical journey. If that’s too pretentious, just let your hands do as they please and see it where it takes you! For the people who are saying “but I can’t play”, you can learn. Guitar lessons are very affordable these days, as are most musical lessons, and the instructor will come to your home. Remember the immortal words of fake Jim Morrison in Wayne’s World 2: “Book them, and they will come.”
Okay, so you may not be inside all of the time, but you’ll still be on the property! Wandering out into the garden is a great way to gain perspective for many reasons. Firstly, staying inside all day can encourage negative thoughts because you’re cooped up and feel suffocated. So, getting some fresh air feels like a form of relief. Secondly, stress usually builds up when the brain harbours negative thoughts. Going out into the Great Outdoors helps to reverse the process as there is a lot of natural light. Without light, it’s easy to feel down in the dumps and depressed.
There’s no need to hit the gym to release tension when you can do it from the comfort of your bedroom. In truth, you can do it from any room in the house as long as there is plenty of space. Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to flog your body to feel the benefit. Often, the best form of exercise is the low-intensity form because it targets excess fat. Running, for example, as opposed to walking, burns carbs. If you don’t know where to begin, there are plenty of home workout routines online. Or, you can build up a sweat by scaling the stairs throughout the day. Anyone that wants a less active method should consider meditation. By sitting down and focusing on nothing in particular, you can forget about the rigours of life. Yoga is an excellent way to mix both exercise and meditation.
What do you think? Are you willing to give them a try?
Wow. Okay. Where do I begin to recap on a bliss-filled 48 hours at Billabong Retreat on the way to Richmond, NSW? Should I start with the delicious vegetarian food, the awesome tent I was in, the yoga, breathing, and vocal sessions, the tea ceremony, or the purrrty scenery?
Shall I start with the food, as that’s what you’ve come to expect? :)
On arrival there was a spelt and fruit based slice and tea on offer (and caffeinated products because for the addicts, there was no point spending the whole weekend with a headache!), and some delicious tasting filtered rain water. Technically they can only recommend us drinking from two of the taps (the bubbler and the kitchen tap) but the rest of the water is rain water, so no issues with brushing teeth with that water.
Stacks of mandarines, green apples (my favourite!), bananas and seedless red grapes kept making appearances in front of me, and were soon in my belly :) There was a stash of Freedom Foods bikkies for the sensitive tummies amongst us, and we were welcome to help ourselves to snacks through the weekend from the kitchen.
I can smell all the spices now!
Mignon, the chef, fed us well for our main meals as well as baking up a storm. Most of the produce was local when possible, and in season was the way to go. Seconds were often had!
OMG people, I ate hard boiled eggs for the first time since I was maybe six. I thought it was the least egg smelling way to get back into eating eggs. I’m still a long way off eating runny eggs. Small Steps!
Lots of fresh breads, jams and spreads on offer. The gluten free loaf was from the freezer, but hey, it was there!
Porridge on the first morning was cinnamon, morning two there was vanilla added, and I think it inspired a winter of porridge eaters.
With bananas with Greek yoghurt, local honey and home made muesli (unfortunately not gluten free) for those after something lighter. I think most people went for a little bit of everything!
A spicy pumpkin soup. Probably towards the edge of this wuss’s chilli coping range. But delish!
Roasted Mediterranean vegetables baked with ricotta.
A plate of ‘nachos’. A little mix up meant there were some difficulties for the guy with the nut allergy, but he didn’t die, so all went well :P (He’d forgotten his epipen and all!) The salads with our meals were amazing! Simple, like with cabbage, apple, walnut and dressing, but crunchy and tasty.
(excuse the dodgy photo)
A vegetable curry and a dhal, seconds were sought by a lot of us!
Yes! We were given dessert :) Like I said, no one went hungry this weekend!
Berry sorbet with tofu cream and crumble.
MMm poached pears. Gotta love cinnamon!
If you’re going, and have dietary requests, such as allergies, intolerances or if you’re vegan, they can cater for you at Billabong. Jut let them know when you book, and have a chat to the chef when she gets there on the first afternoon to make sure accommodations are made :)
I got to experience the walk-in tents. Don’t let anyone tell you they are too cold! With a super thick doona,blankets, hot water bottle and oil heater, I overheated on the first night! Meep!
In the long term, they hope to only have the rooms along the ridge overlooking the billabong, with ensuites etc. But for now, the tent and old cottage serve well! Short dash in the rain to the loo at 3am, but I lived to tell the tale ;)
The showers all have little egg timers for 4 minutes. My first shower was so under two minutes, but I couldn’t get in under 4 on the Sunday, because I decided to wash my hair with the biodegradable shampoo and conditioner. It was soft and fluffy once it dried :)
Below are some of the other parts of the main building – the fireplaces, the super comfy couches, the yoga room and the view.
The yoga and meditation sessions were WONDERFUL. There was such a mix of experience in the room, from people who’d done nothing along those lines at all, to some of me who get so distracted meditating, to people who’d done yoga for 15+ years. But everyone got something new out of the weekend. I focussed on my breathing, an was able to take home some yoga techniques to help with my stress reduction and anxiety management that I’ve applied already!
(and for those of you that know me, no, it wasn’t all “woo” ;) Lots of practical stuff)
An amazing part of the weekend, we were guided through a mindful tea making exercise with the gorgeous Basia from My Tea Ritual. Taking note of all the aspects of the tea making, from the sound of the water, to the blooming of the tea, to the heat of the cup and the taste on your tongue. At least 3 people were “wow, I can do THIS at any time with my normal tea” to create a peaceful, portable ritual. Yep, even during 3:30-itis at work!
I had an amazing weekend and would certainly recommend it to anyone who needs to escape but can’t really find more than the weekend to do it. You walk in, and an instant calm just… happens! The place it only 45 mins from Sydney (3 hours from Newcastle by train, but that’s another story and I slept for a lot of it :p), and they pick you up and drop you back from the station if you go by train :)
Billabong Retreat can be stalked via their website, blog (where Paul promises he’ll start putting up recipes soon!) and their Facebook Page (skim for a pic of my group and for spur of the moment offers for last minute bookings)
Basia’s tea ritual information, bookings and products such as blooming tea and tea pots is over at MyTeaRitual.com and she’s on Facebook and Twitter. You should consider booking her for a team building day to help your staff appreciate their cuppas that little bit more mindfully rather than just for the caffeine hit ;)
I stayed as a guest of Billabong Retreat, and loved every moment! My only gripe is that 48 hours is just enough time to get used to it… would love to go to a longer retreat next time. :) And while it rained pretty much the whole weekend, that simply added to the beauty – and who doesn’t love falling asleep to the sound of rain?! :)