Relaxation can be helpful in looking after your wellbeing when you’re stressed, busy or worried. Relaxation techniques and exercises can also assist the body’s recovery, whether that be after a stressful situation or equally in between high levels of exercise. Working hard, pushing ourselves and worrying periods are normal factors of life so it’s equally important to balance these out with relaxation and recovery.
For most of us, simple steps can help you look after yourself and importantly they can fit into your daily life. Mind have created a simple yet important video on relaxation How to Relax and here are some tips you can try:
Take a break
Relaxation doesn't have to take up lots of your time. Just stepping away from something stressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughts can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer.
• Read a book or a magazine, even if it's only for a few minutes
• Run yourself a bath, watch a film or try out a new recipe
Try active relaxation
Relaxation doesn't have to mean sitting still – gentle exercise can help you relax too.
• Take a walk, going at your own pace. You might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed
• Yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching exercises
• Take a walk in the countryside or through a local park, taking time to notice trees, flowers, plants and animals you see on the way
Focus on your breathing
Learning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer.
• Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out
• Count as you breathe. Start by counting 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe in and 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe out. Try to work out what's comfortable for you
Getting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
• Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing
• Try not to worry too much about the finished product – just focus on enjoying yourself
• Really listen to the music. Can you pick out different instruments? Can you hear a drum beat or a certain rhythm? Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away
Do a tech check
Technology can be great for helping you feel connected, but if you're using it a lot then it can contribute to making you feel busy and stressed. Taking a break (even a short one) can help you relax.
• Try turning your phone off for an hour (or a whole day if you're feeling brave)
• Step away from the TV or have an evening where you don't check emails or social networks. Use the time to do something relaxing – you could try some of the ideas above
Picture yourself somewhere serene
Even if you can't physically get away, your imagination can transport you to somewhere you feel calm.
• Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory of somewhere you've been, or a place you have imagined
• Close your eyes and think about the details of this place. What does it look like – what kind of colours and shapes can you see? Can you hear any sounds? Is it warm or cool? Let your mind drift and your body relax
If you're finding things very hard right now and these tips don't feel possible, it is ok to ask for help. See Seeking help for a mental health problem for guidance on talking to your doctor about options for support and treatment.
For further support, the Mental Health Foundation has created an article around How to reduce and manage stress and the NHS website has help and resources if you’re feeling stressed.
Published on 27 April 2020