Our busy lives can make it hard for us to find time for relaxation. Often, we feel guilty about just stopping for a moment or having time to ourselves. When do we ever put ‘relaxation time’ on that endless ‘to-do’ list? However, it’s really important for our wellbeing to take time for regular relaxation. We’ve outlined 10 ways you can relax….
1. Take a break
Often, we can become so carried away with what we are doing that we don’t stop to take a break. This might be a task at work, replying to your never-ending list of emails or doing housework. Taking a break can actually make us more productive again. This doesn’t have to be a long break– try 10 or 15 minutes at first. Take yourself into a different room where possible, or go outdoors. Here are some ideas…
• Read a magazine or book
• Walk around the garden
• Go out of your immediate workplace
• Listen to music
• Have a healthy snack to boost your energy
• Talk to others (about something other than what you’re doing or need to do!)
If we’re feeling stressed or anxious, our breathing can often speed up. Taking time to focus on calming your breathing can help both your mind and body to relax. Try these steps for 5-10 minutes.
• Start by finding a quiet place where you can sit down comfortably. Try and make sure your back and head are supported. Put both your feet flat on the floor
• Bring your attention to your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
• Breathe in slowly counting from 1 to 5
• Breathe out slowly counting from 1 to 8
• Keep repeating these in and out breaths until you start to feel calmer. Don’t worry if you can’t reach the count of 8 at first
3. Relax your body, step by step
If you find that you become physically tense, this is a good technique to try. It’s best done when you’re lying down, somewhere you’re unlikely to be disturbed. You could try putting on some calming music whilst you try this exercise. If you can’t lie down, you can still try this sitting down. Progressive muscular relaxation involves a process of tensing and relaxing, different parts of your body, one at a time. Here are the steps…
• Feet: tighten your feet by curling your toes downwards. Hold this for a few seconds…and then relax, then let your toes spread out
• Legs: squeeze the muscles in your thighs. Hold this for a few seconds…and then relax
• Chest: tighten these muscles by breathing in deeply. Hold this for 5-10 seconds….and then breathe out slowly
• Shoulders: bring them upwards (towards your head). Hold this for a few seconds…and then relax, letting your shoulders gently move downwards
• Arms and hands. Tense the muscle in your arms and hands. Hold this for a few seconds…and then relax.
• Neck: slowly tilt your head forwards, so you’re chin moves down towards your chest. Hold this for a few seconds, then bring it back to its normal position
• Face: create a frowning expression on your face. Hold this for a few seconds…and then relax your facial muscles
• Imagine a feeling of relaxation spreading from your toes, through your legs, chest, arms, hands, neck, face and head. Then breathe in for 5 seconds….and out for 5 seconds.
• Is there any tension left in any part of your body? If there is, repeat the above step for this part of your body
If there are just one or two parts of your body that feel particularly tense, you can focus on these areas.
4. Have a bath
Try taking some time in the evening to have a bath. You could try visualisation (see number 8 below), listening to music or focusing on your breathing at the same time. Try and release the tension in your body.
5. Go on a mindful walk
Too often we go about our day-to-day life so preoccupied with future worries or past concerns that we barely notice the ‘here and now.’ Bringing our attention back to the present moment can help us to achieve a greater sense of wellbeing and peace. Try this exercise…
• Choose somewhere to go on a walk – this could be a local park, woodland or even your garden
• Walk slowly, trying to lose any sense of urgency
• Notice the pace of your breathing – focus on this for a couples of minutes
• Notice the way your body feels – how tense or relaxed is it?
• What sounds can you hear?
• Can you feel a breeze against your skin?
• What can you smell?
• What does the ground under your feet feel like?
Your mind will wander, but try and bring it back to what’s happening in the present moment.
• Bake some cupcakes and decorate them
• Paint or draw a picture
• Make a birthday card
• Decorate an old box
• Paint an old piece of furniture
• Make a calendar with your own photographs
If you’ve got kids, they could join in too.
Exercise is a form of active relaxation and can be a great stress-buster. There’s lots you can do without having to join an expensive gym. Here are some suggestions…
• A brisk walk
• Bike ride
• Join a keep-fit class
• Try a sport
You might have someone to do these things with but it’s helpful to think of some activities that you can do on your own.
You don’t have to physically go somewhere relaxing. Your mind and imagination can transport you to anywhere you want…
• Take yourself somewhere quiet and either sit or lie down
• Start by focusing on your breathing. Breathe in for 5…and out for 5. Repeat this several times.
• Picture a calming place
• What does it look like? What colours are there? What sounds can you hear? What can you smell? What do you feel like?
9. Listen to music
You might already have a piece of music that you find relaxing. If not, try out some different ones and see what you find calming. You could combine listening to music with other relaxation ideas, such as getting creative, exercising, visualisation or progressive muscular relaxation. Try and have a playlist of different pieces of relaxing music, so you can choose one that suits you on a particular day.
If you’re feeling frustrated with your regular routine you could plan a trip out. This might just be for a couple of hours. Here are some suggestions…
• Picnic in the local park
• Visit a local attraction
• Go and visit a new place
• Go and visit friends or family
• A weekend away
We hope that this has given you some ideas about how you can relax. If you’ve got any comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear them, so please post these below.
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