stress

The Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness

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We all get stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, annoyance and jealousy. Mindfulness can decrease these negative emotions in your life. If you've ever been to SpaSophia we've probably shared mindfulness based life lessons and advice with you. While mindfulness may sound a bit vague, it's actually one of the few philosophies that has been validated by science. Mindfulness based therapies have been widely adapted in schools, prisons, hospitals, rehab facilities, mental health clinics and other places. Spa Sophia is a big fan of mindfulness and has seen it work miracles for our clients. So what is mindfulness, and what are the benefits? Let us give you a little introduction...

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness comes from anapanasati, a form of Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness was then made popular in the Western world by Jon Kabat-Zin, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, in the 70's. He created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which was quickly adapted for therapies in clinical psychology and psychiatry.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment." In other words, living in the now. This sounds very simple, but can be quite challenging to practice in daily life.

Ever not remembered wether or not you brushed your teeth or locked your car, or had a moment where you discovered the food you just started eating was suddenly all gone? And by gone we mean: You ate it without realizing. These things happen because we're constantly thinking about the past, worrying about the future, or distracting ourselves otherwise. We're hardly ever in the moment, consciously focussing on the task we're doing at present. Mindfulness teaches you to do just that.

mindfulness tips stress anxiety spa sophia venice ca los angelesHow Is Mindfulness Practiced?

Mindfulness is practiced by deliberately focussing on the present as it is, without judging. A million thoughts will enter our minds regardless, because that's just how we're wired. This is okay though, that's where the "without judging" part comes in. If thoughts come to you,  just accept them and then let them go. What you don't do is start thinking about the thought, or getting annoyed with yourself for having the thought. This takes you out of the moment.

An example: You're driving to work and suddenly are thinking about your ex. Hey, we've all been there... But just let that thought come. Don't start thinking about if it means you're not over him/her or about all the things you still want to say. Don't judge yourself for having the thought either. Accept that it's there, and then let it float away by focussing on the road or whatever else is in your view.

It will be difficult at first, but repeated practice will slowly rewire your brain, making it easier and easier until it's a habit.

What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

Mindfulness teaches you to see the moment as it is, without adding your own past experiences or hypotheses to it. Instead of presuming someone said something for reasons you've come up with yourself, you focus on the facts. This helps you see things more clearly and make better decisions.

Research has also found that mindfulness is an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can help you cope with anything from daily annoyances like traffic on the 405 to the loss of a loved one. And because mindfulness removes the clutter from your brain, you're also more open, which leads to more creativity and - although hard to prove scientifically - opportunities. Mindfulness therefore makes you happier, calmer and healthier.

Need some extra relaxation to kickstart and practice your mindfulness? Come to our boutique spa on 1027 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice and enjoy a lovely massage, facial or healing Ayurvedic treatment. Book one online or call us at (310) 564 6676.

8 Tips to Make Your Home & Office Stress-Free

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8 tips to make your home stress free and office stress freeOur environments are a reflection of ourselves. We are in our homes and offices for huge portions of our time, and the way they're designed and decorated have a big influence on our lives. At Spa Sophia we know this all too well, which is why we've put a lot of thought into the interior design of our treatment rooms and lobby. Want to make your home and office a calming place as well? Here are 8 tips to make your home and office stress-free...

1. Add A Touch of Nature

Plants and flowers aren't just pretty, they're calming too. The addition of plants and flowers has been proven to ease recovery in hospital rooms, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and increase positive feelings. In offices they have even lead to reduced absence rates, lower noise levels, decreased room temperature and lower humidity. So go get that extra oxygen flowing in your home or office and add some greens.

2. Declutter

When it's messy in your home or office, it's messy in your head. You unconsciously - or even consciously - carry that clutter with you throughout the day. So start decluttering to make your home stress free, or your office. Go through them and ask yourself: Do I really love this object? Does it add anything to my life? Do I use it? If you hesitate, it's likely time to get rid of it.

3. Get Rid of Things That Bring Negativity

That artwork a lost friend made you, those linen you bought with your ex: Some objects carry negative energy. Wether pictures or objects, if things invoke negative feelings or bring back unhappy memories, it's good to let them go. Don't do it to avoid facing problems though, and don't throw things out in an emotional moment. Clean up only when you're calm and have made peace with the associated memories.

4. Organize

Some stuff you just can't get rid of, even if you'd like to. Bills, anyone? That's why it's important to have ways to organize them, so they don't pile up all around. Get a binder for your important paperwork,  a mail sorter for mail, boxes for small things like rubber bands and paperclips...Make sure you get organization systems that look nice though. There are many cool, creative organization systems available these days, just have a look at these and these. Who knew it could be fun to make your home stress free?

5. Use Calming Colors

Colors can have a big influence on your mood, so put some thought into which ones you use for your home or office. The walls are of course the most important, but if you can't change those, think of the colors of your artwork and functional items. Purples, greens, blues and neutral colors reduce stress, while yellows and reds have been found to raise blood pressure.

6. Let The Light In

Light is one of the most important  things for wellbeing; It influences your sleeping patterns and moods, and studies have shown that the presence of natural light indoors has a very positive effect on health and stress.We're lucky here in Los Angeles where sunshine is a given, so make good use of it. Let natural light into your bedroom so you can wake up naturally, and make sure there's plenty of natural light in your living room and office.

7. Add a Personal Touch

Let your environment be a reflection of who you are and what you love, so you feel more at home. Even if you work in a cubicle there's room for photos, artwork and other decor. Having pictures of loved ones and other objects that evoke positive feelings around reminds you of the good things in life, even when you have an off day.

8. Try Some Feng Shui

Feng Shui is an ancient Chine philosophy that occupies itself with harmonizing human beings with their environment. While sometimes shrouded by somewhat extreme superstitions, the essentials of Feng Shui are quite rational. We've already mentioned a couple tips that could be considered feng shui, but here are some more:

  • Make sure your workplace is set up so you have an overview of the room
  • Do not work with your back towards a door
  • Try to achieve some symmetry in the way you set up a space
  • Create walkways that are obstacle free
  • Fix things: sticking drawers and doors may be little annoyances but they accumulate in a big way

For more tips on how to de-stress read our Ten Easy Ways to De-Stress article, or book a relaxing massage or healing Ayurvedic treatment online or by calling us at (310) 564 6676.

Ten Tips For De-Stressing

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ten tips for de-stressing - spa sophiaStress is not only unpleasant, it’s also very unhealthy. Stress breaks down your immune system and can lead to depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment. On top of that stress can make your skin thinner and less capable of restoring itself. At Spa Sophia we therefore place a lot of emphasis on making our facials and waxes completely stress free, and we also offer a variety of healing and relaxing massages. To help you continue to feel stress free at home and at work, here are ten tips for de-stressing…

1. Put Things in Perspective

If there’s a specific thing that’s stressing you out, ask yourself: How important will this be a week from now? A month from now? Even a year from now? Think about it in the grand scheme of things.

2. Make Your Mornings Count

Mornings set the pace for the entire day, but too many people rush their mornings. Wake up even 10 small minutes earlier so you can get a little times for yourself, eat a healthy breakfast, and do some stretching exercises or meditation.

3. Take Sufficient Breaks

Always take breaks during work. You may feel like it will cost too much time, but not taking breaks decreases your productivity so you actually save time by taking breaks. Don’t take your breaks behind you computer though. Get away from work both mentally and physically.

4. Exercise

Working out releases all kinds of stress relieving and happy making hormones, so break a sweat, even if it’s just during a small walk, or by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

5. Make To-Do Lists

To do lists ensure you won’t forget anything and can make the daily or weekly tasks more overseeable and less daunting. Plus, it’s so satisfying to cross things off that list!

6. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We need sleep to keep us sane, healthy and productive. Therefore make sure you get enough sleep, even if you feel like you don’t have the time for it.

7. Eat Well

The foods we tend to crave when we’re stressed usually only make stress worse, since they trigger the same bodily reactions. Stress makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up, and so do foods that have a high glycemic index, such as most candy and junk food. So snack on nuts, avocados, fish, fruits and dark chocolate instead!

8. Smile

Science has proven that even fake smiling will make you feel happier. Not to mention the benefits of laughter therapy. So put a smile on your face and not only look nicer, but also feel nicer!

9. Enjoy Some Nature

The great outdoors has been proven to have stress relieving effects, often because the lack of stimuli offers space for reflection. LA has so much great scenery to offer. Go enjoy a hike in the hills or a walk on the beach, and you’ll feel invigorated after!

10. Breathe

People who do yoga and meditation will already know this, but just paying attention your breathing, and making sure your breaths are deep and steady can work miracles for your stress levels. It may sound easy, but see how quickly you forget. So let go, and breathe.

Need a little extra help relaxing? Book one of our healing massages online or call Spa Sophia at 310.564.6676 to set an appointment today.

7 Health Benefits of Massages

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Did you know massages have been proven by science have a wide range of health benefits? Not that you needed any additional reasons, the benefits of a massage are quite clear when you’re on the massage table, completely Zen. But if you want to know what other benefits there are to massages, here are the seven health benefits of massages…

massages spa sophia los angeles venice beach abbot kinney1. Massages Relieve Pain

It’s not just imagined, a massage can lead to significant pain relief. A massage benefits sore muscles, stiffness, and sports injuries. They can also decrease chronic back pain and provide a better range of motion for people with osteoarthritis and other joint conditions.

2. Massages Reduce Anxiety & Depression

Massages have been proven to be able to reduce anxiety and depression. They stimulate the production of neurotransmitter serotonin, a substance in the brain that’s widely associated with feelings of happiness. Massages also reduce the production of cortisol, often called ‘the stress hormone’ and therefore massages can make you feel less anxious.

3. Massages Are Good for Your Blood & Cells

Massages encourage lymphatic drainage. This is the transportation of toxins out and away from cells so that there’s more place for nutrients. It also increases blood circulation. Both these things have great effects on your complexion and hair, which is why we always include a massage in our facials.

4. Massages Make You More Alert

Studies found that massages - even short ones that last about 15 to 30 minutes - increase alertness and problem solving abilities. So they’re a great way to start your day!

5. Massages Decrease Headaches & Migraines

Due to the beneficial effects of massages on stress, there are a lot of massage benefits for stress induced conditions, like tension headaches. But massage benefits aren’t limited to tension headaches. Massages can also lead to fewer migraine attacks and less painful migraine attacks.

6. Massages Boost The Immune System

Although the support for this finding isn’t very large yet, science does indicate that a massage benefits the immune system. Researchers have found more disease-fighting white blood cells in people who received regular massages. It’s not a surprising finding: Stress puts your immune system on hold, which can damage it in the long run, and massages decrease stress and thus this damage.

7. Massages Increase The Quality of Sleep

People who struggle with insomnia or other sleep problems should give regular massages a try. Massages can increase healthy sleeping patterns, something that’s thought to be due to the effect massages have on delta waves; brain waves associated with sleeping.

Want to enjoy these health benefits and get a heavenly massage? Call Spa Sophia at 310.564.6676 to set an appointment today, or book online.