Welcome to the Decaf Zone!Relaxation Techniques

Ahhh… time to relax and de-stress.  Unwind and chill out. These strategies are designed to bring calm to your day, to help you to feel centered and more at peace. In the Decaf Zone you will find practical ideas that can be easily integrated into you’re your daily life. And here’s the pick of the day…

… Make Hot Chocolate/Hot Cocoa from Scratch

No shortcuts here. Enjoy the ritual of heating the milk and preparing the other ingredients to make the perfect cup. You can either use real chocolate or cocoa, lots of ideas on online if you’re looking for some. And don’t forget the marshmallows!

Previous Selections From the Decaf Zone

…Take a Country Drive  Fill your mug and get out of town. Feel the tension slip away as you make the time to explore new roads, scenery, walks, shops, and other small discoveries when you get off the beaten path.

…Explore the World From the Comforts of Home  Discover new places, cultures and people by browsing through travel books and websites. Let your mind stretch and wander across the globe, giving a nice mini-break to your day.

… Say Goodnight to Your Cell Phone, Too  When you’re ready for bed, put your cell on “Airplane Mode” (don’t worry, your alarm will still go off). Your phone will stop communicating with cell phone towers so you won’t be able to send or receive voicemail or text messages or use data. We’re flooded with radiation and cellular transmissions all day long. Why not try to make sleep time a break from all that, too? Try turning on ‘Airplane Mode’ three nights in a row and notice how you feel. More rested perhaps? Give it a try!

… Video: 24 Little Things to be Grateful For  This is so awesome! A reminder to appreciate the little gifts we are so fortunate to have in our daily lives.  Watch 24 Little Things to be Grateful For

 Tea Time Make yourself a cup of herbal tea and put your feet up to enjoy.  Feel the warmth of the cup in your hands. Savour the flavour. Immerse yourself in the pleasure of enjoying each sip.

…Unplug for the Day  One full day with no TV, computer, internet, tablet, iPod, or e-reader. Cell phones are okay for  calls only (does not include texting). Notice how great this feels and what you end up  focusing on instead.

…Visit Your Local Library There’s something sacred about libraries, a sense of calm, community, and simplicity. It’s a great place to chill, study, read the newspaper or magazines, browse for the next good book to read, or check out CD’s and DVD’s. Support your local library, a vital part of  our community!

…Message of the Day Before you get out of bed in the morning ask yourself, “What do I need to focus on today to stay grounded?” (ie. ‘just breathe’, ‘enjoy the moment’,  ‘be calm’). Write it down on a piece of paper and keep it close to you for the day.

…Hug Someone  Whether you are the hugger or ‘huggee’, hugs are healthy! Hugs increase a sense of safety and connection, calm people down, pick them up, and give them strength to carry on. Hugging also has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure and boost the immune system. So what are you waiting for? Find someone right now and give them a hug!

… Post a Quote  Choose a quote you need in your life right now to motivate, reassure, or inspire you. Write it on a piece of paper and place it where you’ll see it every day.

… Bake Something You Loved as a Kid  Did your mom bake something when you were a kid you absolutely loved, have special memories about? Yummy squares, cookies or butter tarts, perhaps? Whomp it up in your own kitchen!  Take your time and really enjoy the experience – no rush, no stress. Have fun!

… Slow Eating  This is about ‘mindful eating’. Food is meant to be savoured, enjoyed and appreciated. The most important part of the digestive process starts in your mouth with the thorough chewing of food. Take your sweet old time – relax and enjoy nourishing your body.

… Bake Bread  Everyone loves and appreciates home baked bread. And it’s surprisingly easy to make! (countless recipes and videos online). Take your time and fully enjoy the experience, especially the kneading of the dough, which many regular bread makers call ‘pure therapy’. The ritual of baking and enjoying home made bread is nurturing and comforting for both the bread maker and anyone who eats it. 

…Relaxation Therapy Video/Audio  This just may be one of the best short relaxation videos ever. Set aside 10 minutes with minimal distractions, get comfortable, and let his voice transport you deep into the decaf zone.  Relaxation Therapy Video/Audio

…Read a Novel  Retreat into a world that has been created for you by an artist’s imagination. Allow the  story to  transport you to new places, be introduced to ‘some pretty interesting characters’, and be entertained, moved and inspired

…Plant Flowers  Get down and dirty! Skip the gardening gloves! Get those hands right in the dirt. Plant flowers in pots or bed and enjoy the feel of the earth in your hands and satisfaction of planting something you can watch grow for months to come.

…Visit a Garden Centre  It’s that wonderful time of year when the nurseries are packed full of flowers, plants, shrubs and trees. An outing to the local garden centre can be relaxing and grounding – take your time and enjoy it.

…Do a Crossword Puzzle Or a different word game or Sudoko … (but keep it within your difficulty level – remember, this is about de-stressing). A great break from the busyness of the day!

…Ear Cupping  A deeply calming exercise. Rub the palms of your hands rapidly together until you feel them heat up. Cup the palms of your hands over your ears. Close your eyes and take a mini break, enjoying the warmth and silence.

…Shadow Puppets Video  Amazing shadow puppets by dance company Pilobolus. Very cool. And relaxing to watch. Shadow Puppets by Pilobolus Dance Company

…Be Still and Silent  Don’t do. Don’t think. Don’t plan. No cell phone, magazine, munching or talking. Simply relish stillness and silence. Let it wash over you.

…Funny Business  Want to destress? Have a good laugh! Go to a funny movie…watch a TV comedy…go out for a good time with friends… Laughing and having fun are fantastic stress relievers.

…The Art of Doing Nothing  It may be easy to forget in our fast paced, multi-tasking, overachieving culture, but we are human beings after all, not human doings. Each day, set aside at least ten minutes to do absolutely nothing. No technology, no productivity, no performing, pleasing or preparing. No guilt either!

…Flowers and Candles – Breathing Exercise Try this breathing exercise to help calm you if you are feeling anxious. Imagine smelling a bouquet of fresh cut flowers by drawing in a long, deep breath through your nose. Then imagine blowing out a candle, breathing out all the air through your mouth. Repeat two more times.

…Play a Computer Game  Bring on those Angry Birds! Play hearts, backgammon, word games… Do a crossword puzzle. So many games and apps to choose from. Take a break from the pressures of the day to decompress in the game zone

…Visit a Bookstore  Bookstores are are a great place to chill. Take your time, hang out a while. Browse through the travel section (remind yourself of all the magnificent places in the world). Leaf through recipe books (it’s a comforting thing to do, even if you don’t like to cook). Check out the latest novels. And before you leave…don’t forget to treat yourself to a new book!

…Colouring Outside the Lines Be sure to set aside time for this exercise, at least 20 minutes, in a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be interrupted. Immerse yourself completely into this experience, it can feel incredibly relaxing and nurturing, even decadent.This is all you need: blank paper (several sheets, just in case) and crayons, pencil crayons or pastels.What to do:-1. Take a few deep breaths and ‘soften’ your mind, imagine it to be relaxed and open. 2. Without ‘thinking about it’, simply choose whichever writing materials and colours you are drawn to. Do not question or censor your choices. 3. Without ‘thinking about it’ allow the crayons or pastels to simply move across the paper in any way that feels natural. (Please remember this is not a contest and no one will be critiquing what you do – including yourself, right?!). This is about expressing yourself through colour and images and being completely immersed in the experience. Drawings, images, doodles, it’s all good, just be open to whatever comes. 4. Continue with this exercise until it feels complete. 5. Take a little time to look at what you have put to paper. If it feels right to do so, give names or titles to some of your drawings.6. Stand up and ground yourself by tuning into all five senses.

 …Take it Outside  Stepping outdoors can help to calm and centre you. Appreciate the fresh air (yes, even if it’s cool and crispy!). Look up at the sky and take some long, deep breaths.

…Try ‘Life Watching’ (people watching taken to the next level) Take five or ten. Be still and observe everything that is going on around you. Notice as many details as possible. Movements, expressions, body language… Everyone has a story – imagine what that story might be.

…Relaxation Video  A 3 minute youtube video of one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls complete with relaxing music. Kick back and relax. Watch on full screen if you can, turn up the volume, and enjoy! Watch Waterfall Relaxation Video

…Sensory Tune In  Sit or stand comfortably
Tune into your sense of sight. Take a good look around and notice the tone and depth of colours. Pay attention to the details in your environment including patterns, shapes and contours of objects. Look close up. Look far away. Fully engage your sense of sight.
Tune into your sense of smell. Draw in a several full breaths through your nose and release through your mouth. Notice any scents in your environment. Lotion, soap or shampoo? Flowers, plants or grass? Does the air smell fresh? Musty? Fully engage your sense of smell.
Tune into your sense of touch. Notice what the ground beneath you feels like. How the clothes feel on your skin. Bring awareness to any sensations in your body. Is there a draft of cool air? Is the sun warm on your face (lucky you if it is!). Stroke a plant, stone, or furry friend. Fully engage your sense of touch.
Tune into your sense of hearing. Bring awareness to all the sounds around you. Is there music? Conversation? Humming of lights or the refrigerator? Chirping birds or howling wind? An espresso maker whipping up milk for a latte? Fully engage your sense of hearing.
Tune into your sense of taste (optional)Place a candy, mint, or piece of chocolate in your mouth. Draw your attention to the flavors on your tongue and completely savor the taste until the treat is all gone. Take your time and fully enjoy!
Finish with a few more full breaths and enjoy feeling more centred for the rest of the day.

…Foot Massage Ah, yes, the decadent foot massage. Start with a foot soak in warm bubbly water. Apply cream (something minty is fantastic to wake up your feet but any cream of choice will do). Massage one foot completely – don’t forget the top of the foot, toes and achilles heel, too! Repeat with the other foot. Even better…have someone else massage your feet for you!

…The Five Minute Vacation Start by choosing a place (at home, in your office, in your parked car…) where you can be comfortable for at least five minutes with no interruptions.

Next, close your eyes and imagine yourself completely relaxing on a vacation. Allow your senses to take it all in – sights, sounds, smells, sensations, the taste of that margarita – imagine you are there and savour that feeling of relaxation.

…Take a Bath Bubble Bath? Sure, sounds great. Candles, too? Of course. How about some soothing music? Now you’re talking. And the biggest, comfiest towel you can find.

We lived in water while growing inside our mothers. Enjoying a bath can be very calming and comforting. Take your time, clear your mind, and savour the whole experience with all your senses.

…Bedside Notepad Have a lot going on? So many things to do? Try this…Keep a pad of paper beside your bed and write down all the things you need to do the following day. The purpose isn’t to make a ‘to do’ list (although it may be an added benefit) it’s about releasing the responsibilities in your mind onto a tangible piece of paper so you can relax and have a good sleep!

…Breathe This is the ‘go to’ tip you can count on every time. Only have a minute or two? It’ll be enough to help you to feel more calm and centered. Do it anytime, anywhere. Even when you’re stopped at a red light in traffic!

Draw in a slow, full breath through your nose. Release a slow, full breath through your mouth. Repeat. If it is possible and safe to do so, do this with your eyes closed (not when driving obviously)

For added benefit, when you breathe in imagine breathing in what you need more of in the moment (calm, peace, relaxation…). When you breathe out imagine breathing out what you want to release (tension, frustration, worry…).

Enjoy.

…A Calming Image Find an image that calms you. Perhaps it is a photograph that you or someone else has taken. Perhaps it’s a picture you came across in a magazine. Maybe it’s of water, the mountains, a child, bicycle, or steaming cup of tea. All that matters is that when you look at it you feel calm. Place this image where you will see it often, such as your desk, night table, or refrigerator