Five Ways to De-Stress in London
Sometimes – even when we’re on holiday – we need to enjoy a moment of calm. This can be easier said than done in London, which is a vibrant, bustling place. Fortunately, the UnderTheDoormat team have found some secret spaces for you to de-stress in: the perfect spots for finding your zen.
Float your troubles away
If you fancy recreating that ‘lounging on a lilo’ feeling without being on vacation, Floatworks is the place to go. Scientifically proven to increase wellbeing, floatation therapy can improve aches and pains, enhance mental clarity, and even put a smile on your face – what’s not to love?
London’s Floatworks has been soothing stressed-out Londoners since 1993. At both the Angel and Vauxhall branches, visitors can find relaxing lounges and specially-designed, heated floatation pods (all of which contain concentrated Epsom-salt solution to supercharge the experience). Close off, unwind, and submerge yourself in the healing waters – you’ll soon feel like you’re floating on air.
Enjoy the silence
Finding peace in urban areas can be something of a challenge – one that garden writer Liz Ware took in 2016, when she set up a not-for-profit project called Silent Space. The project – which required a number of public gardens to reserve an area each week in which people could be silent for a period of time – was a huge success. Silent Spaces was officially born.
There are now three Silent Spaces in London: Wilderness at Ham House; the Sackler Garden at the Garden Museum; and St Mary’s Secret Garden. Once at the Silent Space, talking or the use of mobile phones is prohibited; meaning that visitors are free to sit down, wander around, and relax in complete quiet. This allows them to enjoy the restorative beauty of their surroundings - and bask in the moment - in a way that is not possible within the hustle and bustle of the city. A perfect oasis of calm.
Lunchtime meditation and music
Classical music calms the mind: it’s a fact. The sound of classical music prompts our brains to release the chemical dopamine (often known as the ‘pleasure’ messenger) and inhibit the production of stress hormones.
Fortunately, in London there are ample opportunities to fill one’s ears with the sounds of classical music. One of our favourite calming classical sessions is even free – just pop into St James’ Church (near Piccadilly) and indulge in one of their complimentary lunchtime concerts on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to squeeze some bitesize meditation into your lunch-hour, go to Inner Space in Covent Garden or the City. There you will be guided through a free thirty-minute meditation, which has been cleverly designed to leave you with a positive mindset and a sense of peace.
Lie back and enjoy the view
The Banqueting House, a Royal Palace, is one of London’s best-kept secrets. The only surviving building from Whitehall Palace (the principal residence of British monarchs between 1530 and 1698), it is famous for two main reasons: first, for being the place in which King Charles I was executed (he was accused of treason and beheaded); and second, for containing the only in-situ ceiling painting by the famous Flemish artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens.
It is the latter (and more pleasant) element that we will be focusing on now, because Rubens’ ceiling is an amazing sight. One of the most relaxing spots in London, the ceiling is best viewed when lying down on the floor beneath it, so that the spectator can enjoy an interrupted, expansive view of this spectacular piece of art. To encourage this relaxing pastime, the venue even provides comfortable, squashy beanbags on which to recline!
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re in central London and in need of a moment of quiet, head over to the Banqueting House, grab an audio-guide, and lay back on a sumptuous beanbag. Feast your eyes on Rubens’ fine work, enjoy the peace, and learn all about the history and art of this fascinating building.
Stress-busting bonus: cuddle up with a cat
A recent 20-year study concluded that being a cat-lover has benefits: in fact, people with cats are less likely to die of a heart attack. Spending time with a cat increases levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, whilst decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone). Also, they’re furry, lovable, and perfect for cuddling!
Fortunately, the ‘cat café’ phenomenon has hit London, meaning that feline fans have plenty of options in the capital. If you’re looking for a place to chill out in and make a ‘purrfect’ pal or two, our blog on cat cafes will point you in the right direction.