Are you plagued by feelings of hopelessness and fatigue? Whether your low mood is linked to inflammation or a hormonal imbalance, a therapist’s couch isn’t always the answer. Here’s 9 cheaper alternatives to therapy…
1. Sweat it out with Yoga
Yoga is a great stress reliever with a host of physical and psychological benefits. Try 15 days for £20 at More Yoga in locations across London from Camden to Clapham. There’s a huge variety of classes from Yin and Yoga Nidra to Rocket, Fitness and Power Flow.
If you need a pick-me-up from this cold weather, try a steamy session at Fierce Grace where you can experience 30 days of hot yoga for £39. Or to target sleeplessness, stress, and anxiety try Inner Axis at Triyoga for £17.
2. Bounce it out with Trampolining
Not only does bouncing increase your muscular strength, posture, balance and coordination but the constant change in gravitational pressure kick starts the lymphatic system that carries nutrients to your cells. This increases lymph flow by as much as 15 times and rids the body of toxins in the process.
Book a free jumping session at Flip Out Wandsworth or Oxygen in Acton for £12 or invest in a home rebounder for £85.
3. Take the focus off yourself by helping others
Join a community of runners that combines getting fit with doing good. From running to change a lightbulb for an older person so that they can see in the dark, to doing some gardening or moving furniture, Good Gym increases your motivation to exercise while making a difference to someone’s life.
It’s free to joint but you pay an optional £9.95 a month to a charity to help them reach more older people. Or try a Supply Yoga class in Hackney – a social enterprise that uses the money you spend on their yoga classes to fund free yoga for community support service users across East London.
4. Regulate your ‘fight or flight’ response with Meditation
Meditation helps us to panic less over little things and by forcing us to be in the present, it stops us from worrying about the past or future. It also reduces our ‘negativity bias’ – our tendency to remember negative memories over positive ones.
Meditation helps us create a mental ‘buffer’ from our emotions. It makes it easier to stop and consider how we want to respond, instead of flying off the handle. Research shows that even 20 minutes of meditation a day over 4 consecutive days can make us calmer and more mindful. Try a drop in meditation session at Inhere for £12 for 20 minutes.
5. Form a bond with a pooch
Not only can mans best friend lower our stress levels and blood pressure but according to a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, dog owners are significantly more active, particularly in the winter. Even if you don’t own a pet yourself, brilliant services like BorrowMyDoggy allow you find your perfect Sunday stroll partner for £12.99 a year.
Did you know dogs also produce Oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ that bonds us together? They also remind us of the joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us.
6. Punch it out with Boxing
According to Dr Kelly Brogan, author of A Mind of Your Own, depression can result from chronic ongoing stress and exercise acts like a “biological insurance plan against the bodily effects of stress”. Unleashing some pent up tension on a boxing bag is a great way to get stress out of your system.
The rush of endorphins and serotonin will leave you with heightened confidence and a powerful sense of achievement. Try a class at Kobox at £20 per class or try unlimited boxing for £90/month at Box Clever Sports – still cheaper than therapy!
7. Stock up on Brain food
Lifestyle changes with a natural anti-inflammatory effect can help improve your mood.Dr Kelly Brogan advises to eliminate processed foods, especially sugar and refined carbohydrates which may increase inflammation in the body. Eat plenty of natural foods including fruits and vegetables, pastured animal products and eggs and wild fish.
If you’re lacking culinary inspiration sign up to a meal box delivery service like Mindful Chef. Choose 3 healthy meals for 2 from £42 per month.
8. Book a massage
According to neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart, massages help to relieve stress (which correlates with cortisol) and relax us. This is because in a relaxed state (parasympathetic activity in the autonomic nervous system) the heart rate slows and the breathing becomes more regulated.
Massage and immersion in warm water is also thought to encourage the release of oxytocin – the bonding hormone – which makes us feel warmer, more trusting and connected, which counter-balances the effects of cortisol. Try a Relaxing 60 minute massage at Relax Spa Covent garden for £80. Or book a treatment between 4:00 – 9:00pm at the Four Seasons Midnight Suite, to prepare your body for a natural restorative sleep.
9. Drum it out with friends
The primitive, shaymanic drumming circle is emerging as a therapeutic tool for modern day minds. Drumming induces deep relaxation, lowers blood pressure and creates a powerful sense of connectedness with ourselves and others. According to Dr. Bittman, “Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin.” It’s basically therapy. Grab some friends and try POUND, a drumming style workout on 19th September 2017.