The Best Stretches You Can Do Right Now to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

We all know that exercise is good for our body, but it’s also good for our mind. In fact, our mental health is intrinsically linked to our physical health. So set yourself up a soothing environment, then slide into some easy yet powerful stretches that will stimulate happy hormones and lead to a calmer mindset.

Here are six steps to easy stretches you can do right now to relieve stress and anxiety.

Set up Your Healing Space

Before you jump into stretching, take a few minutes to set up your space. Research shows that certain environments can have a calming effect on our minds. Being out in nature is a sure bet, with fresh clean air and natural light. But you can also set up a beautiful indoor space and tap into the air purifying effects of salt lamps, aromatherapy diffusers, and scented candles.

Stretches for Stress and Anxiety

Release Endorphins with Sun Salutations

Don’t worry about not having enough time or energy for a full yoga workout. You can still get all the mind-clarifying benefits through a few Sun Salutations. Formally known as Surya Namaskar, this simple sequence is designed to build heat in the body and synchronize our breath with our movements.

A sun salutation is like a mini yoga workout in itself. It incorporates all major muscle groups and is just the right intensity to get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. Famous for creating the “runner’s high”, endorphins also trigger positive feelings that will energize your body and mood.

Stretches for Stress and Anxiety

Release Stored Tension with Hip Poses Like Pigeon and SaddleStretches for Stress and Anxiety

The key to releasing tension is to stretch parts of your body that hold deep tension, namely your hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck.

Pigeon and Saddle poses are a yoga stretches that get deep into your glutes and hip flexors. Hold the poses for 5 to 10 minutes each and they will create therapeutic effects similar to a deep tissue massage.

In our sedentary lifestyles, sitting muscles like glutes and hip flexors are especially prone to holding stored tension. Targeting these muscle groups will increase blood flow, helping to stimulate receptors in the nervous system, which decreases production of stress hormones.

Invert Yourself with Supported Shoulder Stand and Plow Pose

Sometimes you just need a different perspective on life, and there’s no better way to get it than flipping things upside down! Inverting our bodies has been shown to improve focus, balance, and brain function. It allows oxygen-rich blood to flow to your brain and helps reverse the effects of gravity.

Supported Shoulder Stand and its variation, Plow pose, are beginner inversions that don’t have the intimidating risk factors of headstands and handstands. They are fantastic full-spine stretches that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for action.

Be Still with Child’s Pose and Corpse Pose

No stretching routine is complete without a few final minutes to come back to centre. Yoga poses are inherently reflective, but Child’s pose and Corpse pose are the culmination of that, allowing your body to return to its normal pulse, quiet the mind, and experience a restful moment of savasana. Tune into your breath and let it flow easily. Bring your mind back to your healing space, and accept whatever thoughts that come, letting them pass away.

Allowing ourselves time for stillness, presence, and meditation, gives a chance for deep feelings to surface. Strengthened by our stretches, we can witness our thoughts and let them pass without attachment. In this way, our stretching routines can help us become more resilient in daily life, restoring vitality to our bodies and minds.

Take a Bath with Epsom Salts

Maximize the effects of your stretching by drawing out the toxins released with an epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are high in magnesium and sulfates, promote better sleep, and will further alleviate any muscle soreness from released tension. Besides, you can revel in the relaxation you created for yourself and celebrate your new healing routine.

Stretches for Stress and Anxiety

For more tips on relieving stress and anxiety, check out our Health Topics library

 

10+ Tips to Wake Up Happier and More Energized

Summer is coming to an end and the days are getting shorter, which means we all want to feel as energized as possible as we wake up. When it comes to getting out of bed fresh, happy, and ready to tackle the world, there are a bunch of tricks to try. Start your morning feeling more rejuvenated with these tips.

Maximize your beauty sleep

Beauty Sleep to Wake Up with Energy on the London Drugs Blog

No screen time before bed

With advances in technology over the last decade or so, it’s common practice that in the hour before bedtime, you’re likely to check your phone, write a late night email, or watch your favourite show on Netflix. BUT! Studies have shown that excessive screen time can make it difficult to relax. Instead, try turning off your phone an hour or two before bed. Opt for a good ol’ paperback to read instead of using your tablet, or even try for a sleeping mask to completely block out any light source.  

Create a comfortable space

Avoid using your bedroom for day-to-day activities and turn it exclusively into a sleep haven. This may involve investing in black-out or dark curtains for your windows, adjusting the thermostat to reach the perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cold), or even buying a new pillow that meets your comfort needs. If you have noisy neighbours, live near a busy street, or share the bed with a snoring partner or pet, make your space as quiet as you can by using earplugs at night. At first this may seem excessive–but just remember how good it feels when you wake up after a soundless, restful slumber.

Get a good night’s sleep

How you wake up in the morning is affected by how you fall asleep at night. A regimented schedule is a great place to start, but with busy lives and spontaneous occurrences, it’s nearly impossible to keep a completely consistent schedule at all times. If you occasionally have difficulties falling asleep, try diffusing an essential oil such as lavender (well-known for its sleep-inducing properties), or another relaxing oil. Alternatively, a small dose of natural melatonin can also be helpful to nudge you to sleep without any groggy side effects the next morning.

Develop a morning routine

Avoid hitting the ‘snooze’ button

Hitting the “snooze” button in the morning is a habit most people have developed at some point in their lives. It can be too easy to put off getting out of bed with a simple smack of the button. Wearing a Fitbit or similar device will closely track your sleep schedule (so you can see the times you have uninterrupted, REM sleep), and it can also provide a gentler, built-in alarm that wakes you up gradually. Another method that is less enticing, but very effective, is to set your alarm clock across the room, so no matter what, you can’t simply turn over and “snooze,” but have to get out of bed to silence it. And if you’re already up–what’s the point of going back to sleep?

Open the blinds

Like we mentioned above, because the presence of light simulates daylight (and alertness), when you’re falling asleep, it’s best to avoid it. On the other hand, if you’re having trouble waking up in the morning, simply flood your space with natural light; open the blinds, crack open a window for fresh air, and bask in the morning sunshine. We all know the feeling of feeling lethargic whenever the weather is dull or rainy–so when this is the case, switch out your regular light bulbs for some power-saving and daylight-duping LED bulbs around the house.

Create an upbeat playlist

When it comes to getting ready in the morning, some people prefer listening to the news on TV, early morning radio programs, podcasts, or the new album from their favourite band. Whatever it is, as long as it elevates your mood and helps you feel energized, prepare your sound of choice the night before. Create a playlist that speaks to you, and choose something that gets you excited in the morning and pumped for your day. Sync your phone up with a hands-free speaker to switch from the traffic report to your ‘90s playlist effortlessly while you turn on the coffee maker and pack your lunch.  

Nourish your body and mind

Choose a healthy breakfast to wake up with more energy from the London Drugs blog

Drink water

For many people, the idea of mornings without caffeine may seem impossible to bear. The truth is, though your routine cup of coffee or tea may be non-negotiable, make sure your habit doesn’t become an addiction. To supplement the benefits of caffeine, always keep a tall glass or bottle of water next to your bed so you can grab it and gulp immediately upon waking. Water rehydrates the body after hours without it, it will de-fog your brain and amp up your alertness, and it can help stimulate your metabolism for the rest of the day. Just incorporating one glass of water every morning (before your coffee) will pay dividends for your focus and liveliness.

Eat a healthy breakfast

Your first meal is what keeps your brain sharp and provides your body with energy until lunchtime. If the idea of eating something heavy right upon waking makes you nauseous–don’t worry. You don’t need to eat a whole plate of eggs and bacon every day for energy. Instead, you can make quick, simple smoothies to take with you on the go. If you’re pressed for time, prepare overnight oats the day before, or dive into a bowl of muesli. Though scientific communities are divided about the importance of breakfast, as long as you feel satiated and energized, you won’t have to worry about any uncomfortable cravings before your next meal. 

Exercise

For some people, getting to a yoga or spin class, or even a 30-minute jog in the morning is difficult; especially if you have a busy family, career, or unpredictable schedule. But taking just a small amount of time out of your morning for exercise can have lasting benefits. Not only will you not have to bother hitting the gym after an 8-hour work day, but the endorphins stimulated during your workout will get you revved and happy in the morning. If you’re the type of person who exercises to relax and unwind, you should definitely move this activity to the morning–that way, when you head to work, your mind (and body) will be fully refreshed. If time really isn’t on your side, pop in a morning yoga DVD that you can do in your bedroom or consider an active commute–getting your heart rate up and blood flowing will set a solid foundation for the rest of your day.

Take time for yourself

Finally, be sure to take time for yourself in the morning. Whenever you have just a moment or an hour, do something that makes you content and peaceful before diving back into the real world. Meditation is a fantastic way to embrace every day as a clean slate, where you can create positive energy by appreciating the little moments in life. If meditating isn’t your jam, try journaling, reading, or simply sitting in your pajamas with your tea or coffee (and glass of water!).


Whatever you do to start your morning, find what makes you the happiest, get a good night’s sleep, and prepare your day feeling your best.

5 Useful Tips to Raise Your Energy at Work

Skyrocket Your Energy Levels at Your Job London Drugs Blog

Maintaining positive mental and physical wellbeing at work allows us to stay at the top of our game and succeed at our job. Of course, trying to balance our busy lives with work can get in the way of self-care and leave us feeling run down and lacking energy. The Mental Health Commission of Canada explains that decreased wellbeing at work can lead to a loss of productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism, too (that’s working while sick). This is why it’s important to try simple tricks that boost our daily vitality.

Don’t worry! Whether you’re managing stressful deadlines, long hours, or physical demands, we’ve got five simple self-care steps to keep you healthy and energized at work.

Step 1: Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated at work helps us to feel alert and think clearly. A common recommendation by HealthLink BC suggests consuming six to eight 250 mL (8 fl oz) glasses of water each day. Buying a funky new water bottle, trying a new tea, or setting an alarm on your phone are great ways to remind yourself to drink more! You can also check out this video for 4 ways to trick yourself into drinking more water.

Step 2: Perfect your posture

Improving your posture involves a bit of mindfulness practice, but the rewards offer renewed, sustainable energy throughout your day—as well as long-term health benefits. Start by trying a new seating position, or a laptop stand to go on your desk. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has great guidelines for good body position, and what to avoid.

Office furniture also impacts your posture. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, try using an office chair with different ergonomics or a standing desk to increase your circulation and decrease fatigue. 

Raise Your Energy Levels at Work London Drugs Blog

Step 3: Quick office desk makeover

Whether you work from home or in an office, your environment can affect your vitality, productivity, and wellbeing. Get creative and give your desk a makeover! Spruce up your workspace with positive quotes, plants, and pictures. Aromatherapy products are great too—try a diffuser, salt lamp, or blend of essential oils from London Drugs, which help to boost energy and mood, and relax the mind.

Step 4: Take time to stretch or walk the block

Rest breaks, stretching, and movement all help combat the 3pm afternoon slump. Try setting an alarm each day to complete a few new desk stretches, or take a short walk around the block. Exercise is a golden way to recharge, increase stamina, and promote brain health at work—read more and discover 6 ways exercise benefits your mental health.

Steps to Stay Energized at Work London Drugs Blog

Step 5: Treat yourself (and a coworker!) to lunch

What better way to boost your energy than great food and great company? Break up your workday by taking a coworker out for lunch or treating yourself to a new healthy spot. Social breaks can take your mind off of work and allow you to return refreshed and rejuvenated. Eating healthy food can also increase energy levels—you can create your own food guide to make healthier menu choices, as well as gain inspiration for future lunch recipes.


Self-care requires commitment and time, so it’s ok to go slow and try one new tip a week. Little steps make a difference, and patience and persistence are key! You’ll be on top of your game, sustaining your energy, and doing backflips around the office in no time. Stay well! 

How to Cope With Travel Anxiety on Your Next Vacation

How to Deal with Travel Anxiety London Drugs Blog

Travel offers a host of health benefits for your mind, body, and soul. It relieves stress, boosts happiness, strengthens mental resilience, and increases cognitive flexibility. Vacations break the cycle of stress which permeates our daily lives, allowing us some time out from usual routines—and it allows us to gain a new perspective on our problems. After a successful trip, we feel energized and refreshed, ready to take on the world again.

Travel can also lead to an improved connection to ourselves and others. Research shows that when we go beyond our social comfort zone and immerse ourselves into different cultures, we strengthen our personal identity and increase our confidence.  Vacations also promote “shared experience” with others by fostering connections. Shared memories and time spent together, outside of usual mundane routines, help to promote these positive ties with family and friends.

Dealing with Travel Anxiety London Drugs Blog

All that said, when leaving your usual routine and surroundings, challenges might come up. One challenge is that traveling may cause symptoms of a mental health condition to flare. Regardless of whatever idyllic and peaceful location you are headed to, most people experience some level of stress both before and/or during any trip.

Research has found that the most common stressful travel experiences are related to pre-travel issues such as planning, financial concerns, packing, making travel arrangements, and developing the itinerary. But some people also have stressful experiences during the trip, such as coping with weather conditions, traffic jams, flight delays, conflict with travel partners, and transportation.

The good news, however, is that in many cases, there are ways to prevent travel anxiety from ruining our vacations!

Plan ahead:

  • Research your destination, especially if you might experience cultural and linguistic differences
  • Learn a few common phrases to help you get by in the local language, if needed
  • Find out where to exchange currency for the best rate
  • Know what kind of electrical outlets people use so you can recharge your phone, tablet or use your curling irons!

Be organized:

  • Ensure that your passport is current and you have the necessary visas
  • Book your hotel before you arrive and keep a copy of your confirmation with you
  • Check in for your flight online the day before and leave extra time at the airport to get through security

Be prepared for emergencies:

  • Look up the local emergency number so that you have it, just in case
  • Don’t leave home without travel insurance!

Know the rules when it comes to medications:

If you are travelling with prescription medication for a mental health condition, it’s important to research your destination country’s drug importation laws to see if your medication is regulated. Many medications for treating mental health conditions are highly regulated and countries impose restrictions on the amount and type of medication that can be imported.

  • Know whether you can travel with it to your destination
  • Carry your medications in their original containers
  • Bring a letter from the prescribing physician indicating that the medicines have been prescribed for medical reasons (including health condition, and the dosage prescribed)

Coping with Travel Stress and Anxiety on Vacation London Drugs Blog

Try to relax and don’t feel guilty:

  • Do remember that you are not indispensable to your workplace—they will manage without you
  • Don’t check work emails
  • Do remember that recharging is just as important as working
  • Remind yourself that you deserve this time off
  • If you’re a caregiver and feel guilty leaving your charge with someone else, try to focus on the reality vs. your anxieties and worst case scenarios

Be mindful of how you’re feeling:

  • Don’t be afraid to take a break from your planned activities if you need to relax and recharge
  • Keep up routines that make you feel stable
  • Pack a few items to help you relax at the end of a challenging day, such as a journal, music or your running shoes
  • Music is great for reducing anxiety when travel becomes stressful—listening to your favourite songs can have a huge difference on your mood

Stay healthy:


Written by Lorna Allen, CMHA BC

How to Practice Self-Care for Your Mental Health

Woman Relaxing Practicing Self Care London Drugs Blog

Practicing self-care is so important for the maintenance of our personal health and wellness. It’s like how airline attendants instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting others—if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re affecting your ability to take care of the people around you. Not only that, but neglecting yourself can take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being.

It’s always a good time to identify some everyday things you can do to practice self-care to help your mind and body. Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself without breaking the bank.

Reconnect with your inner self

Self Care Tips London Drugs Blog

When life gets chaotic, it can help to slow down for a minute and listen to your inner dialogue. For some this might involve a creative outlet like drawing, painting or writing, while for others it might be a physical outlet like taking up yoga, going for a jog, or enrolling in a fitness class.  When you are listening to your mind and body, you feel healthy and more productive, and your self-esteem gets a boost.

Pamper yourself

You may not have the time for a spa day, but you can still indulge yourself at home by taking a long bath with your favourite essential oils. You could apply a deep-clean conditioner to your hair or nourish your skin with your favourite lotion. When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, self-care is usually the first thing to go. We may feel guilty or indulgent taking some time to ourselves when we already have so much on our plates, but it’s crucial to look after ourselves if we want to avoid feeling burned out.

Unplug and disconnect

Self Care How To London Drugs Blog

In this digital era, many of us are permanently plugged into the outside world. We’re constantly checking our emails and social media feeds, but now and then stepping away from it all can make a world of difference—even if it’s for an hour or two. Put down the phone, close the lid on your computer, and read a book that’s on your shelf, walk through the park, or meet a friend for coffee.

Consult with an expert

Most of us feel intense pressure to be perfect. We want to excel at work and be good parents to our children. But while we’re focusing all our energy on others we forget to take care of ourselves. If you’re looking for more ways to support your self-care journey, our London Drugs advisors are happy to talk to you about other ways to practice self-care.


Feeling stressed or burnt out? Find out how to simplify your life, get support, and use relaxation techniques to fight stress from our London Drugs Pharmacy.

Why Fika is the Key to Happiness at Work

fika - coffee and an alarm clock on a table

One could certainly say that Scandinavians have a lot of things figured out. They consistently take top honours when it comes to prosperity, education, and happiness ratings, so we’d probably be wise to take their advice. We’ve posted before about the delightful, Danish notion of hygge (or the art of getting cozy). Our new Scandinavian obsession is the Swedish tradition of fika. Read on about why we love the idea, and why we think everyone should incorporate it into their workday.

What is Fika, anyway?

Fika Swedish Tradition Coffee Work London Drugs

There is no literal translation for fika in English, but it is defined as “a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning to have coffee, often accompanied with pastries, cookies or pie.” But ask any Swede, and they will tell you that fika-ing (yes, you can use the word as a noun or a verb) is about more than just grabbing a coffee; it’s a moment to leave work behind. Traditionally taken twice a day (first at 10am and then at 3pm), it’s not a strategy for more meetings with coffee in hand, it’s a chance to actually relax with co-workers. Despite Sweden being the world’s third-largest coffee drinking nation, Fika doesn’t necessarily even have to involve coffee—tea or lemonade are popular alternatives. The point is to slow down and connect.

Why should I Fika?

Work is inherently a social activity. It has to be; even if you don’t work around a lot of people that often, you do work for people. At the same time, people are getting busier than ever, and our work increasingly involves more technology and less interaction every day, so that can lead to more isolation in the workplace. When we’re not connecting with the people we spend so many hours a day with, there is potential for loneliness.

Studies have shown that loneliness and isolation at work can not only lead to depression, they can kill your job performance. Recognition, gratitude, encouragement, emotional support, and camaraderie are all important factors to finding fulfilment at work, and life in general, so nurturing these things with regular personal connection can increase productivity, improve motivation, and foster company loyalty. The stripped down, casual style of fika breaks can even lead to new ideas and more creative problem solving.


So, Ska vi fika? Let us know how you practice fika in the comments below, or if you’ll incorporate it into your work day!

What Time Should My Child Go to Bed? A Sleep Guide for Canadian Parents

Exactly how much sleep should your kids be getting? Check our handy chart below.

If this four-year old girl went to bed at 20:30 and rose at 07:00, did her growing mind and body get enough sleep? Afraid not. Check out our guide below.

In Canada, the shortening days are upon us. In the six months between the longest and shortest days of the year, Torontonians, Vancouverites, and Edmontonians lose six and a half, eight, and nine and a half hours of sunlight, respectively.

If you have children, you’ll know that a 9:00 p.m. bedtime, more than reasonable during the summer, means putting a kid down some five hours after the winter sun. Is he getting enough sleep? Who knows? When many Canadian parents factor in the back-to-school routines of dinner, bath, and storytime (and later, after-school activities, homework, and team sports), it’s hard to imagine getting kids to bed much before nine o’clock. READ MORE

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