Stay Chill

Stay Chill

16 May, 2017
Summer Stress Release
Avoid vacation stress with these great tips!
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Many of us are gearing up to leave Hong Kong for the summer and venture on vacation. Packing and planning often involves levels of organization that equal a military maneuver, and the level of stress encountered during the holiday season is often likened to that experienced during a house move!
 
In fact, studies have identified that the majority of us suffer from increased stress over the holiday “vacation” period. Breaking away from our normal patterns, along with jet lag, lack of exercise and overindulgence of alcohol, food, and socializing all contribute to increased levels of stress. Combined with travel and exposure to large groups of people, our immune systems can breakdown, leaving us susceptible to colds and flu, not to mention the impact on our emotional wellbeing.
 
Here, Flex Director Heather Thomas Shalabi offers her top exercise tips to help you prepare for the holiday season, recover faster from long flights, and even help combat the effects of over indulgence and its impact on your digestive system:
 
Hydrate!
It might seem obvious, but all the social eating during vacations (saltier foods and alcohol!), coupled with hotter, drier weather, and air travel, can make our bodies become extremely de-hydrated.
 
My top tip during flights is to abstain from drinking alcohol (speeds up dehydration and ruins the skin) and keep food consumption to a minimum. I even bring my own herbal tea bags on long-haul flights to keep me going, as only drinking water can get extremely boring over the duration.
 
Upon arrival at parties and gatherings, start with sparkling water instead of a glass of bubbly, and alternate your glasses of water and wine. It makes a tremendous difference. Get into the habit of carrying your own water bottle around with you wherever you go, and you’ll be amazed at how much more water you will consume throughout the day.
 
Exercise!
You might wonder how you can fit this in during the summer madness, but my general rule of thumb is stick to the one thing you LOVE to do and commit to it. Focus on reserving even 20-30 minutes out of your day to do the exercise you love the most – whether Sun Salutations, a quick run, stretching or deep breathing. You will feel so much better afterwards!  Do it 5-6 times per week: turn off your phone, turn on your headphones and GO! 
 
Your children, friends and relatives will manage without you for a short time each day.
 
And when away from home?
Pack the one little piece of equipment that can make your holiday workout plan possible: your yoga travel mat, your running shoes (forget the fancy running kit – just bring the shoes and GO!), your Trigger Point Therapy ball, your Theraband, etc. These are all small, light and immensely useful. Be sure you unpack them and leave them in a visible place.
 
It doesn’t matter if you are staying in a home or hotel during the holidays – keep them beside your bed or visible in the room (don’t let them get “tidied away!”); the power of a visual reminder is more likely to prompt you into action. Unfortunately, out of sight does often mean, out of mind.
 
Stress and Exercise
I have two different personal strategies for dealing with stress:  deep breathing yoga pranayama techniques are amazing for calming the mind, (some pranayama techniques can simultaneously stimulate metabolism!) On the opposite extreme, high intensity interval training – short cardio bursts where you go full out for a set period of time, then rest, repeat cardio burst, and so on, really rev the metabolism and create a thermogenic fat burning effect in the body (great post-indulgence).
 
But these extremes may not be for everyone. The last thing you want to do during vacation is make exercise a source of stress! Stick to what you know and enjoy. If you can make it to a nearby class, even better, it will help you stay on track.
 
What are the real benefits?
Apart from keeping your mind calm and your body toned and bikini ready during the summer holidays, staying active will help you maintain overall fitness and is critical to help you set up for success as soon as you come back to your normal routine. There’s nothing more demoralizing than undoing all your hard work from the spring months by blowing it throughout the summer travel season. It will make you feel as though you’re back at ground zero!
 
Staying active during the summer break will enable you to remain fit, calm, and ready for action when you return to Hong Kong and hit the ground running!
 
Guest Contributor Heather Thomas Shalabi is the Director of Flex Studio

By: Heather Thomas Shalabi
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