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Relaxation in times of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the resulting economic recession has been very challenging for most of us from a mental health point of view. Indeed, fear and anxiety related to uncertainty can cause strong emotions in adults and children. For example, public health actions, such as social distancing, can make us feel isolated and lonely and […]

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The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the resulting economic recession has been very challenging for most of us from a mental health point of view. Indeed, fear and anxiety related to uncertainty can cause strong emotions in adults and children. For example, public health actions, such as social distancing, can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and must be respected.

 It is thus necessary and recommended to find creative and personalized ways to cope with stress in a healthy way, during these difficult times. Fitting the following relaxation activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress, boost your energy and mood, and improve your mental and physical health. Rather than focusing on one method, I would highly recommend trying several to see which one works best for you. Of course, the longer and the more often you do it, the greater the benefits.

Relaxation and peacefulness is something you can work on and take control of so it is time to get you started with the following methods.

Breathing exercises

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax. The good news is that breathing exercises are easy to learn. You can do them whenever you want, and you don’t need any special tools or equipment to do them. I recommend trying the following simple and easy to learn exercise that will help you relax and relieve stress: take long, slow, deep breaths. As you breathe, you will progressively disconnect your mind from everything else.

Meditation

The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its benefits. In fact, a study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Meditation is used to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress, develop concentration and therefore beat burnout. However, meditation can sometimes be challenging. Many people think meditation is about sitting in a dark room. But meditation does not have to be physically uncomfortable. And you don’t need to force your mind to go blank. Try simple mindful breathing exercises, which is also a form of meditation. If sitting is uncomfortable, try mindful walking and pair your steps with your breath.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

When I am stressed, I tend to eat unhealthy and exercise less simply because I am looking for ways to feel more comfortable. The truth is that these practices will not help your mental and physical state. Instead, make sure you are exercising, eating healthy and sleeping properly. Focus on your body and its needs. That should be the priority in everything you do.

Travel to the most relaxing hotels in Europe

Taking a vacation and having a change of scenery, even if it is just a quick trip, can have a considerable impact on your mental and physical health. It has been scientifically proven that travel provides several benefits to your health, especially if you are surrounded by nature and culture. Pick a destination that means a lot to you. Here are the most relaxing places I have travelled to in Europe and recommend travelling to once travel is permitted and recommended again:

Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech, Morocco

This wonderful hotel is the most exotic and relaxing escape you will ever travel to. It is overlooking landscaped gardens, the Atlas Mountains, an 18-hole Golf Course as well as the main pool, set at the foothills of the mountains, inspired by Mauritian lagoons and built with stones imported from India.

My room, the Junior Suite Atlas View, was simply wonderful. I woke up every morning and had coffee with Moroccan fresh dates in the balcony of my room with unobstructed views on the golf course and the Atlas Mountains. The interiors, including the very spacious bathroom, offered a modern interpretation of Moroccan style with staple accessories, which made my stay magical and peaceful.

As if this was not enough, you can also relax at the breath-taking Le Spa which has among other amenities, an indoor, yet sun bright pool surrounded by greeneries and architectural Moroccan touches.

The hotel also offers a wide selection of restaurants, but my favourite one was without any doubt Al Aïn restaurant, a wonderful escape into the thousand flavours of Moroccan cuisine. Its menu showcases spices and ingredients that are essential in Moroccan cuisine with a subtle and delicate blend of Arab, Berber and Moresque traditions. The food and service are impeccable.  Finally, the breakfast offered by the hotel was exceptional with freshly baked pastries and bread every day.

Lango Design Hotel & Spa, Kos, Greece

Designed to spoil you, Lango Design Hotel & Spa is a new 5-star adults only boutique hotel located in the charming island of Kos in Greece. The hotel is located steps away from the well-known Lambi beach and 2 km from Kos town, making it a very convenient choice for your relaxing holidays.

This place truly takes relaxation to another level. You can relax by the impressive pool area, enjoy a cocktail in the magnificent sunset lounge or simply isolate in Lango’s guests-only private area with very comfortable sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach of Lambi. Welcome to paradise!

If you are looking for a romantic Mediterranean restaurant in Kos, Koan Cuisine, the hotel’s restaurant, is the place to be. You will have the chance to savour delicious Greek, Italian and Mediterranean dishes served with a modern twist while enjoying a glass of Greek wines. The chef is very ambitious and dedicated, making this restaurant one of the best hotel restaurants I have ever tried.

I would also recommend trying Kocoon spa , the hotel’s spa, a sanctuary of wellness, which includes a heated swimming pool, massage rooms, a special couples room, relaxation areas, hammam, sauna, a fully equipped gym and a beauty corner.

Besides its ultra-luxurious facilities, five-star services, contemporary architecture and authentic Greek hospitality, what makes this hotel truly special is the people. The staff is truly fantastic and will make you feel at home very quickly.

OKU Kos, Kos, Greece

Where do I begin? Think of traditional Greek island architecture meets laidback minimalist luxury. Welcome to OKU Kos!

Located right on the sandy beach, 4 km from Marmari Village in Kos, this adults-only hotel is the perfect relaxing beach hideaway inspired by the Greek way of life, offering beautiful, tastefully decorated and spacious rooms.

 My room had a private shared pool which is hard to find and made the experience of staying at the hotel even more relaxing. Inside the room, I really enjoyed the décor: mid-century elements contrasted with naturally tactile textures and traditionally handmade pieces, bringing a sense of timelessness, simplicity and sophistication.

I really enjoyed having my breakfast every morning in the indoor and outdoor restaurant overlooking the beach. Beyond breakfast, you can enjoy the hotel restaurant which focuses on locally sourced delicious food.

My favourite part of the hotel was the private beach area. It is simply breathtaking and I cannot wait to come back.

Overall, staying here is more than a simple hotel experience. It is a way of being and thinking, a philosophy and a peaceful escape.

On a separate note, if you are in Kos, I highly recommend trying the following restaurants:

Oromedon: While viewing both an amazing sunset and the verdant slopes of the mountain Dikaios (Oromedon), the tavern serves delicious traditional specialties, such as the amazing pork dish with buttery pligouri and chickpeas, tender roasted lamb with rosemary, allspice and garlic, liver stuffed baby goat and sweet spices as well traditional “hortopites” (pies), most of which have been slowly cooked overnight in a wood-oven operated with the traditional mud sealing technique. The staff is also very warm and will make your experience unforgettable.

Barbouni: This cosy and romantic seafood restaurant offers flavors that combines modern and traditional Greek cuisine. The restaurant offers daily fresh fish and shellfish as well as local traditional tasty products such as cracked wheat bread, cheese and honey.  What characterizes this place is the freshness of the raw materials that are carefully selected from all around Greece and the attention to the detail and quality. You will have the most amazing time while enjoying the breathtaking view.

Taverna Perasma Kos: This is by far my favorite restaurant on the island. The most relaxing, authentic and warm place to gather with your loved ones, socialize, eat and, of course, have a few drinks. The restaurant is managed by a lovely family which offers the most tasteful Greek specialties you can dream of. Everything comes from the restaurant’s farm including the olive oil which is the restaurant’s speciality. If you’re on the island of Kos, do yourself a favour and stop here. I loved it so much that I decided to eat there a few days in a row. This will be the first place I go to when I am back to the island.

Opus XVI, Bergen, Norway

For those who prefer a more cultural experience, this is for you. Managed by relatives of Edvard Grieg, this exceptional, timeless and classy hotel offers a taste of the composer’s remarkable life, his relationships and his unique life story.  It is a true privilege to be able to stay in this hotel.

In fact, the hotel is in a historic building which was originally designed and built for Bergen’s largest bank in 1876. The unique building, also known as “Banco Rotto”, is a famous landmark in Bergen with its distinctive brick facade and characteristic architectural style.

Besides, the hotel offers unique and luxurious rooms located in the very heart of Bergen. Each room is individually designed with classic yet modern design and interiors. The beds are extremely comfortable. A classic yet modern take on the luxury hotel experience! You will feel at home very quickly.

The hotel’s philosophy is to ensure that guests feel more than just another luxury hotel. It is not only the promise of wonderful beds, a great location and warm and welcoming service, but also an atmosphere unlike any other, drawing on the rich heritage of the Grieg family.

 If you are in town, I would highly recommend making a reservation at Lysverket. This luxurious yet laidback restaurant combines the past, present and future of Norwegian cuisine. It’s the brainchild of Christopher Haatuft, who previously worked in the US at Per Se and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The Chef takes Norwegian cuisine to another level, combining modern technique with the finest and freshest ingredients from the fjords of his homeland. The food speaks for itself. It is delicious, modern and refined. My favourite restaurant in the Nordics!

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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