Take a break from the stress of work and hectic schedules to celebrate National Relaxation Day!

At times, slowing down can seem hard to do but pausing for even 10-15 minutes a day to enjoy something comforting or calming can greatly minimize the harmful effects of stress on your body and mind. Below are a few suggestions on how you can improve your well-being and learn to relax a little more each day.

Enjoy some fresh air.  Being outdoors has many positive effects on our body and mind from lowering heart rate to boosting creativity. Sunlight even on a cloudy day, lowers anxiety, elevates mood and provides Vitamin D, an essential nutrient. Learn more about the effects of nature on mental wellbeing.

Smile! The simple act of smiling releases several “feel good” hormones and instantly boosts our mood, generating positive thoughts. Even faking a smile can signal your body, resulting in lower blood pressure and less stress.

Listen to Music.  If you love music, you already understand the power it has to create emotion. Play your favorite song, calming instrumentals or sounds of nature to lower cortisol levels and encourage relaxation. Some research even suggests a link between music and pain management.

Eat Dark Chocolate. Everyday! A study found that eating as little as 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily can help to reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels. Plus, dark chocolate has powerful antioxidants essential to maintaining a healthy diet.

Go Screen Free. That’s right, step away from your computer, TV and phone. Without the distraction of screens, adults and children become less anxious, more focused, productive and sleep better. Too much screen time, regardless of the type can affect mood and behavior. Instead, try resting your eyes, listening to music or taking a walk to calm your mind.

Hop in a Hot Tub. Taking a soak in warm water has many relaxation and health benefits. Just 15 minutes can lower blood pressure, alleviate muscle, joint stiffness and even help decrease the frequency of headaches. Sit back and soothe tension with a targeted jet massage to relieve stress. You’ll even fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer after using a hot tub.

Practice Mindfulness. Often we lose track of what is going on around us and how we feel throughout the day. The practice of being mindful is simply the ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of your body, feelings and surroundings. Sit down, relax your body, close your eyes and concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths. Doing so can help to reduce stress, anxiety and improve concentration. Try a 5 minute exercise for beginners.

Chew Gum. Chewing gum has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, which also helps to control blood pressure and manage stress.

Essential Oils, Scents. Our perception of scent is closely connected to emotion and memories, which is why smelling a particular scent can trigger a biological response and change your mood. To prepare your mind for relaxation, try dabbing a small amount of Lavender or Lemongrass essential oil on your wrist.  Other great scents for soothing are Orange, Sandalwood and Vertivert. Want to feel refreshed and invigorated? Try Lemon, Mandarin, Rosemary, Pine and Peppermint for a mid-day energy boost.

Reach for the Skies. Relieve tension and help soothe sore muscles with a mini stretch session. Taking a few minutes to stretch your arms up or touch your toes helps to calm your body and mind.

Work it Out! Take a walk, play tennis or go swimming. Aerobic activity is not only healthy for your body, but your mind as well. The endorphins released during exercise help to immediately reduce stress, improve concentration and boost your mood, leaving you more relaxed and in a happier state of mind.

Take a Nap. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a short nap of 20-30 minutes to help improve mood, alertness and performance during the day.

Take a nighttime soak or leisurely swim in a PDC Spas hot tub or swim spa as part of your relaxation routine. Convenient and private, you can listen to music or stargaze while enjoying a targeted warm water massage.

Relax. Renew. Repeat.