Do you need an ’emotional escape room?’

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It should come as no surprise to learn that over the last few years, rates of anxiety and stress have drastically escalated.

 

“Anxiety, fear, and worry has skyrocketed in my clients over the past couple of years,” says Zoe Shaw, licensed psychotherapist and author of A Year of Self-Care. “COVID social distancing recommendations have been a perfect storm for those who may have been teetering on the verge of agoraphobia or social anxiety.”

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That’s what prompted a new trend: emotional escape rooms. Essentially, these rooms serve as a space to get away from your emotions, unwind, and decompress.

 

Shaw has been suggesting to her clients for years that they implement an emotional escape place in their homes. And now, this is more important than ever: “Close to half of the workforce is working from home, and I don’t think that trend will slow down,” says Shaw. “As a result, the way we use our homes has changed, and the way our family interacts with our work has changed. … If we can work from home, we can spa from home, too.”

 

The good news is, it’s not expensive or difficult to create this type of room. With a few small tweaks, you can transform your bedroom or even a cleaned-out closet into an emotional escape room and create a calming sanctuary where it’s easy to refresh yourself with a good night’s rest.

 

“Our environment has a profound effect on our mental and emotional health,” Shaw explains. “Creating a space that is calming, clean of clutter, beautiful, and physically supportive calms our nervous system and creates a reset, allowing us to get back to our day with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose.”

 

Here are five easy ways to start creating your emotional escape room.

Upgrade your blankets

As you plan your emotional escape room, focus on engaging all five senses, starting with touch. Make your bed cozy using a fluffy chenille blanket or a snug comforter. Soft pajamas and a plush rug to scrunch your toes in will help provide a sense of comfort and peace.

 

A weighted blanket can also help “calm racing thoughts, panic, or rumination,” says Shaw. The pressure these blankets provide increases the production of serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel calm. Weighted blankets can also improve sleep quality by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure so you fall asleep right away.

Rethink your color palette

Focus on sight by decorating your room with your favorite colors or a soothing color palette. Most experts agree blue is the best color for relaxation. Green also helps promote sleep—if you don’t want to repaint your room, simply add some green plants.

 

Mood lighting can also help set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Keep your room dim and cool, using blackout curtains if needed. You should also avoid looking at bright lights right before bed. And finally, add some meaningful items around the room (such as photos of happy memories or gifts from people you love).

Keep tea nearby

Next up: taste! Shaw recommends keeping a Keurig machine or small refrigerator in your emotional escape room. Stock the fridge with tea that promotes sleep.

 

Chamomile is a plant that has sedative effects and is often used for improving sleep quality. Ashwagandha, an herbal medicine that has been shown to help with sleep, is another good choice. And peppermint tea is caffeine-free and can relax your muscles before bedtime.

Play relaxing sounds

Add an element of sound with a Tibetan singing bowl, a bell that vibrates when played and helps with relaxation.

 

You can also simply play relaxing music. However, Shaw advises that devices shouldn’t have a place in your emotional escape room. “So, if you choose to play music rather than make it, have it piped in through a speaker instead of bringing your cell phone into your calming space,” she says.

Diffuse essential oils

The final sense to incorporate into your emotional escape room is smell. For this sense, Shaw suggests using an essential oil diffuser with one of the following scents: lavender, ylang-ylang, bergamot orange, lemon, pine, or peppermint. Alternatively, you can also purchase scented candles to place around the room.

 

The bottom line: Building an emotional escape room that draws on the five senses is the best way to create a place where you’ll look forward to unwinding and falling asleep each night.

 

For more ways to find calm before bed, check out our guide to the best nighttime activities to help you relax.

 

 

This article originally appeared on Saatva.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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How to make your bed a meditation oasis

 

Time and time again, research shows meditation has myriad health benefits, including reducing anxiety and making it easier to sleep.

 

Meditation master Yogmata Keiko Aikawa says meditation calms the mind—and a regular meditation practice can help you feel recharged, energized, and healthy.

 

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Akai Jackson, meditation trainer and CEO of IXL, a personal and professional development agency that curates mindset shift programs, believes the top benefit of meditating is reducing stress.

 

“Stress disrupts sleep, can stall weight loss, creates anxiety, increases fatigue, and raises blood pressure,” he says. “Stress, whether it’s physical stress on the body or in the mind, can cause major damage in a person’s life—so it’s very evident as to why it’s usually the primary reason people meditate.”

 

Jackson adds that meditation is something you can do anywhere without any equipment—that means that you can easily meditate in bed, which is very convenient. Meditating from any comfortable place, including your bed, can make you feel a lot more relaxed and allow you to have those precious moments of peace and quiet.

 

If you’re looking for ways to meditate before sleep, read on for instructions on how to meditate in bed while reaping the many benefits of this practice.

 

There are several easy ways to meditate in bed. Our experts share the best methods to de-stress while meditating from the comfort of your bed.

 

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Although you may be tempted to lie down while meditating in bed, Keiko Aikawa says the best way to meditate before sleep is to assume a seated position.

 

“It will bring peace to your mind and body,” she says. “It’s important to awaken your consciousness. Of course, it’s relaxing, but lying down on a bed might make you fall asleep.”

 

If sitting in bed is feeling a bit uncomfortable, Keiko Aikawa says you can use a cushion on the back of the bed to lean against. The pillow from your bed can work as a cushion.

 

She adds that the best seated position is sitting cross-legged, which can stabilize your body, keep your spine straight, and prevent you from falling asleep. If sitting cross-legged isn’t feeling ideal, you can choose to sit on a pillow for added comfort.

 

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The steps to achieve an effective meditative state are the same whether you’re in bed or not. Jackson recommends that before you begin, you set a timer between 5 and 30 minutes.

 

If you’re struggling with remembering to do your daily meditation practice, Keiko Aikawa advises setting a reminder—this could be done on your phone, through a habit-tracking app, or by writing it down in your planner.

 

She adds that while meditating, it’s a good idea to listen to music, so be sure to switch it on before starting. “Quiet and soothing music lets us be in something like a daze,” she says. “Your nerves will be at ease.”

 

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Meditation is all about not judging your thoughts—so instead of chastising yourself for having a racing mind, give yourself a break, simply notice the thoughts, and let them drift away.

 

“Make sure you know when your mind begins to wander or get away from you,” Jackson says. “Inevitably, your attention will leave and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to your grounded body, your calm environment, and your breathing.”

 

Speaking of breathing, it should be your chief focus while meditating. For this, Jackson advises slowly breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and slowly breathing out through the mouth, relaxing the lips, for eight seconds. Repeat at least three to four times during your practice.

 

He adds that it’s key to exhale completely so there’s no more air in your lungs. “This creates a full exchange and slows down the heartbeat to help breathe calm over the body,” he says.

 

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Think of your bedroom as not only your sleeping space but your meditation studio as well. “Make the place where you meditate sacred,” says Keiko Aikawa. She recommends dimmable lights for your bedroom to truly make it a calm environment while meditating.

 

Additionally, Jackson suggests clearing your bedroom of all clutter to make sure the area is clean. He says you can also bring a serene scent into your space by either lighting candles or using a diffuser with essential oils.

 

To incorporate elements of nature in your bedroom, place small rocks or houseplants throughout the space, something Jackson explains can bring “a sense of relaxation and healing.”

 

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While there are no specific rules or a right or wrong way to create a tranquil space, Jackson does have one hard-and-fast rule you should follow: “No electronics, aside from your music player,” he says. “This means no phones, laptops, tablets, etc. From the distracting ‘ping’ of text messages, emails, and phone calls—just say no to phones in your tranquil space.”

 

This article originally appeared on Saatva.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

 

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