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It's my birthday!  You know what that means?  Cake.  Cake, cake and lots more cake.  But it also means I'm turning my attention to how I'd like the next year of my life to play out.  It's a fun process and one that usually helps open my eyes to just how much more life seems to improve with each and every passing year.  See, I told you it was a fun process!  Something I've been putting into practice this year is adding a sense of calm to my life.  We can get so caught up in working and rushing around at a hectic pace, that it's easy to lose track of our wellbeing - something I touched on briefly at the end of last year, when my health wasn't quite so fabulous.  So, with some help from The Grand York Hotel (a hotel super keen on providing comfort and relaxation) and a rather generous pamper hamper, I've been taking the time to both acknowledge August as the official Relaxation Month, as well as think of small, subtle and easy ways to help us all to de-stress over the next year of our lives...
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L I G H T   I T   U P !

Scents may not seem to have a huge bearing on our mood, but it's been proven time and time again what an impact they can have on us with regard to relaxation.  Typically, it's the flickering flame of a candle that can help to ease our minds, which also explains why burning incense can be equally calming.  Incense sticks encourage you to focus your mind on the rising smoke and as a result, help to steady your breathing.  Diffusers also get a big fat tick in my book of relaxation, but they're more of a longterm option, rather than immediate satisfaction.

T A K E   A   C H A N C E   ( O N   S E L F - H E L P   B O O K S )

Trust me, times have moved on since the days of dusty old books suggesting you tap the sides of your nose ten times each day for eternal happiness.  Nope, nope and nope again.  Some self-help books now offer genuine, life changing advice and often in the form of daily, bitesize chunks that feel more manageable by not interfering with your daily schedule.  In fact, quite the opposite; they became part of your routine for a healthy and calm mindset!
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D E E P  ,  D E E P  &  D E E P E R

We all know just how relaxing a massage can be, but it can be pretty hard to open up your purse and hand over the price of a bottle of perfume just to receive one, right?  I'd suggest asking those closest to you (such as your partner or family member) to try it out on you; nothing ventured, nothing gained, after all!  If that route isn't looking too hopeful, there are also plenty of massage rollers and tools to play around with on your back, or better yet invest in a massage chair.  Ooh!

' ' I   W A N T   T O   B R E A K   F R E E ' '

Well, if 'change is as good as a rest' then occasionally taking timeout and doing something completely out of the ordinary sounds like a very good idea.  Sometimes, we kid ourselves into believing we're stressed out and unhappy with a situation, when we're actually just in need of a break - a chance to take a step back and relaaaax.  My advice?  Book a staycation, go on a road trip, take a weekend course somewhere.  Anything that will help you to return to your routine with a fresh outlook.  Hello calmer, new and de-stressed version of you...

S H O U T   I T   O U T

This is a slightly more unusual one, but equally as effective, believe me.  Tension has a funny way of making us feel trapped in our own bodies and as a result, we grow even tenser until we feel like one giant bubble of stress.  Not cool, tension, not cool.  A quick fix?  Jump in your car or head out by train to somewhere remote (and safe) and sing as loud as you can at the very top of your lungs.  At the very least, you'll feel less wound up.  I love taking road trips and I'm convinced the terrible singing those at traffic lights have to endure from my car have helped in the long run.  Helped me, not them...
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I'm a firm believer you can never truly relax in the evenings without being curled up somewhere cosy in a fresh pair of pyjamas, and so this dreamy Victoria's Secret pyjama short set nestled in the pamper hamper from The Grand York has put a huge smile on my face!  I've no doubt it also comes as no surprise that I'm a massive candle addict, with a few of my faves being from Bahoma, The White Company and Pecksniffs.  'Autumn' by The White Company comprises pear, quince and amber and is the perfect scent to see you through to the new season.  One thing's for sure, this is definitely the way I like to round off Relaxation Month!
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As well as Relaxation Month, I'm on board for an entire lifetime of relaxation!  It's incredible just how many small and subtle ways we can help ourselves to de-stress, at any time of year.   Do you have any unusual ways of helping yourself to relax?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic, let me know in the comments below!

Liked this post?  You might also enjoy >> Why It's Time To Let Yourself Shine!

With love,

Gabrielle x

Thanks to The Grand York Hotel for working with me on this post!