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Relaxation Techniques for Event Organisers – How to unwind over the holiday season

Managing race events can really shake up your stress levels. With so much on your plate, finding time to relax often ends up at the bottom of your to-do list. The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to have some guilt-free relaxation time. Better yet, making the effort to mentally and physically relax will help you function better in the New Year.

Here are some relaxation techniques that will help you replenish your energy stores during the coming weeks.

Exercise

This might sound like a no brainer, but finding time for regular exercise will help counteract the effects of festive over-eating and will keep your energy levels up. Whether you like going for a run, walking the dog, practicing yoga or swimming, getting out and about will help keep your stress levels in check by releasing calming beta-endorphins. Exercising during the holiday season will help your blood circulate more quickly, transporting cortisol (the stress hormone) to your kidneys and flushing it out of your system.

Meditate for 10 minutes

Our days are packed with demands on our time – whether it’s unopened emails, phone calls, social media alerts or sms messages. Taking just ten minutes to switch off all technology – phones, computers, iPods, iPads and TV’s and breathing deeply, can really help us clear our minds. Try this out: Find a quiet calm place, close your eyes and breathe in deeply through your nose and slowly out through your mouth ten times. You can say each number (1-10) aloud as you exhale if it helps you focus. This repetition will help you break away from the train of thought that is causing you anxiety and with practice you’ll find it much easier to mediate and will quickly feel relaxed.

Stretch it out

Activities like yoga and Tai Chi deliver a therapeutic effect on the body and mind by allowing you to focus on your body, breathing properly and engaging your muscles. If you don’t have time for a yoga class, you can take 15 minutes to stretch out to release tension from the body and relax your mind. Start by going somewhere with no distractions and while sitting or lying down, close your eyes and focus on slow deep breathing. Start by stretching different muscle groups for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat a couple of times and remember deep muscle relaxation becomes easier with practice.

What muscles to work on:

  • Face – squint your eyebrows together in a tight frown, then release.
  • Neck – gently tilt your head forwards, pushing your chin down towards your chest, then slowly lift again.
  • Shoulders – pull them up towards your ears, then relax them downwards.
  • Chest – breathe slowly and deeply into your diaphragm, so that you use the whole of your lungs. Then slowly breathe out, allowing your belly to deflate as you exhale.
  • Arms – stretch your arms away from the body, reach, then relax.
  • Legs – push your toes away from the body, then pull them towards the body, then relax.

Get creative

Spending time doing your favourite creative hobby, whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, gardening or knitting; it’s a highly effective relaxation technique. When we do a creative task that we enjoy, we give ourselves something to focus our mental energy on, helping us channel whatever stress, anxiety, pain or tension we’re feeling into this creative pursuit. Keep a journal Keeping a journal is an underrated relaxation technique. Journaling allows us to organise our thoughts, clear our mind and facilitates problem solving. Putting our problems and worries on paper can give us clarity around what’s important when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Simply jotting down all the tasks we need to do and dissecting them is enough to help us release tension. Writing down your goals, hopes, plans and ideas can help you reflect on them and can inspire you to think and find possible solutions.

Start strong

Research has shown time and time again that a healthy breakfast is associated with reduced stress and improved physical and mental health. While you might be indulging later on in the day, make sure you start your day with a healthy breakfast. Having a diet low in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium is stressful to your body. Fight back by eating a nutrient- rich breakfast. Try including fresh orange juice, grape fruit, low-fat yogurt and whole grain bread with peanut butter, to get your fix of vitamin C, B Vitamins and fatty acids that will help decrease the production of stress hormones.

Be strict about sleep

Many race directors work long hours and compromise sleep in the lead up to events. If you’ve been missing out on sleep, your body interprets sleep deprivation as a major stressor. Use the holiday season to catch up on some shut eye. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep. The good news is that if you’ve been lacking in sleep recently, a few nights of good sleep is enough to reset your stress producing hormones and will help you feel more relaxed during the day.

Laugh

Did you know that you can train yourself to laugh more? Laughter is a great method of relaxing. Make sure you find time to watch a funny movie or play games with friends and family because the immediate physical effects of laughing are incredible. When you laugh you enhance your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulating your heart, lungs and muscles, increasing the endorphins released by your brain. Laughing also stimulates circulation and aids muscle recovery, reducing the physical symptoms of stress. Now where’s that Anchorman DVD?

Chill out to Mozart

If you’re feeling stressed and you need to settle your mood, listening to classical music can help you focus and balance your mood. The melodies in classical music provide a distraction that reduces muscle tension and decreases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. If you’ve got a lot of car journeys or traveling during the holiday season, tune in to Mozart to lower your stress levels. Research shows that this also helps your communication skills, creativity and task performance.

Check in with friends

One of the simplest relaxation techniques is to spend time with friends and family. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, meeting up with friends can provide you with the distraction and perspective you need to steer away from tension and feel relaxed. Talking to loves ones, going for group bike rides and just hanging out boosts the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Make sure you schedule time this holiday to meet up with those who put a smile on your face. You’ll feel more relaxed in no time.

 

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Relaxation Techniques for Event Organisers – How to unwind over the holiday season