I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend at a resort in the Swiss mountains and spent a full two days going on long walks with my family, enjoying meals out together and of course making use of the amazing spa facilities at the hotel. I felt so much better and more energised after this short trip that it got me thinking about how important it is to take time out to relax and to look after ourselves.
I find that in today’s society where everyone has so much that they want to do and achieve that it can be difficult to find balance. We may not realise how much stress we are putting our bodies under until we sit down at the end of the day.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released when we are stressed and although it’s useful in the short term, as it allows us to deal with these difficult situations, having prolonged elevated levels of it can have serious negative consequences. Jillian Michaels explains in her book Master Your Metabolism that when stress continues for a long period of time, your cortisol levels remain high and your body resists weight loss, as it thinks you are in a challenging situation and that you might starve. It therefore stores any food that you eat and any fat that is already on your body.
An excess of cortisol also turns young fat cells into permanent mature fat cells, moves fat from healthy areas of the body to your abdomen (leading to an increase in belly fat), and halts tissue, bone and muscle growth.
It is therefore vital that not only do we try and face challenges that we will inevitably meet throughout the day with a calm and clear head, but also that we set aside time each day to unwind. This may be curling up on the couch to read a book, taking a long relaxing bubble bath or simply spending time with loved ones.
Here are a few images of my weekend away in the mountains, which has to be one of my favourite ways to relax.