With the stresses of everyday life (big or small), it is important that we have ways of relaxing and winding down, to support our mental wellbeing. Different nations have different ideas and views on the best way to relax, some may sound similar to how you relax and others may sound completely different and bizarre!
In Finland, people especially enjoy using saunas to relax. While many are now built into Finnish homes, the traditional sauna is a separate, self-contained wooden structure. Users enter the sauna where hot water is thrown on rocks to create steam. If it’s been a particularly stressful day, the user may knead and massage their muscles with a silver birch branch to further relax tension. After some time spent in the heat, the user leaves the sauna with loosened muscles and clean pores. The sauna ritual is often completed by leaping into a pool or a pile of snow; alternatively, users can just relax with some snacks in a cooler room. To extend the health benefits, people will often repeat the cycle of sauna and cold water over and over again. While saunas are used worldwide, they are especially known in Finland as a popular method of relaxation.
Everyone enjoys the comfort and tension release of a good massage, but the Thai variation is particularly relaxing. The art of Thai massage combines practices from Indian and Asian traditions, and its modern variant is designed to bring balance to the recipient’s body, mind, and soul. It typically takes place on a mat instead of a massage table, and a well-trained Thai massage therapist will shift your body around in practiced movements that may surprise some who are accustomed to lying still for a massage. The Thai style is renowned for easing tension in muscles, improving flexibility, and cutting down on joint pain. Of course, this is a common form of relaxation in Thailand, you can now find Thai massage shops on your local high street!
For centuries, the Japanese have relaxed by visiting hot springs. Japan has a very active volcano system, which in turn has led to some truly spectacular geothermal water sources. These waters are believed to be infused with minerals that can assist in healing and general relaxation. Japanese hot springs are referred to as onsen, and these bathhouses feature a calm, quiet atmosphere to promote ultimate relaxation.
Floatation is a therapy rapidly gaining a foothold in Sweden and now in the U.K. Users climb into an isolation tank, which is essentially a large tub filled with warm salt water and sealed off from light and sound. The user inserts earplugs and floats in the darkened chamber. Floatation is an excellent way to meditate and otherwise relax; the sensory deprivation cuts you off from the outside world, allowing you to focus entirely on your breathing and improve your peace of mind.
Well, I’d say that Spanish have got it to spot on! Sleep is so important for our overall wellbeing and a great way to wind down after a long day is to get a good amount of sleep- that’s why the Spanish siesta is perfect! A siesta is a practice of taking a midday nap and is common in the Mediterranean. The word siesta is a Spanish term that comes from the Latin phrase “hora sexta,” or “the sixth hour”, indicating midday rest six hours after awakening. The exact time of day varies, but the most common siesta time is between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. In other nationalities, taking an afternoon nap as an adult may seem absolutely absurd or lazy, and something you do only when you’re unwell, however, siestas are associated with a number of health benefits- improved alertness and cognitive performance, relaxation, and improved long-term health. Research has shown that Mediterranean adults who regularly take a siesta have a lower risk of mortality from heart disease.
With the hustle and bustle of life in America, it is no surprise that Americans crave a relaxation method that is quick and simple. CBD is very common in most parts of America, for this reason- 55% of Americans who take CBD say they used it to relax, and another 50% said they were looking for stress and anxiety relief. Due to CBD’s rise in popularity recently, a lot of research has been done on its benefits of side effects and like most substances, it does not react to everyone in the same way. While many people have reported feeling stress-free and relaxed, others have said that CBD actually made them feel more anxious and on-edge. Therefore, before trying it for the first time it may be worth finding out the length of time to get cbd out your system, just in case it’s not for you.
In Africa, the method of relaxation that is considered to be the best does not involve a massage, any form of a machine but is a simple dance, sing, and drumming! Families or friends will come together to dance and sing along to the beat of the drums and will leave each other feeling so much happier and relaxed! Other nations that have visited Africa and joined in on this tradition have said that it makes you feel a strong sense of unity while pounding away with the other drummers, an appreciation for a different culture’s rhythms, and a sharpened concentration while trying to follow the beat.