Do you feel stressed or anxious? Are you fed up with people telling you to relax because you feel you can’t relax?
Maybe you have felt stressed or anxious for a long time. For some people there might be a good cause. Perhaps there is something on your mind or maybe you are in a situation that you feel you can’t control and that is making you feel tense. You might even feel angry or frustrated at times and wonder why you are like that? Stressed people are often very busy people. They often work hard and rarely give themselves time to relax.
Is this you? If it is, its time to change.
Why relaxation is important
Lots of people talk about relaxation but why is relaxation so important?
Relaxation helps you to get your mind and body in balance. It helps to relieve tension, pain and aid healing. It also reduces stress and anxiety. Long periods of uncontrolled stress and anxiety can affect your health and wellbeing so now is the time to find a way to relax and change.
10 ways to relax
1. Take a break
Taking a break will mean that you are taken out of the environment that makes you feel stressed. Having a day off at home is good but going out is better as you will be less likely to do chores at home.
Taking a break can be as short as taking the afternoon off work, going away for the day or a weekend or taking a family holiday. You might feel that this is impossible right now. It might be, but you need to start by assessing the amount of time you have off from your job or your responsibilities that are making you feel stressed and anxious. You need to start somewhere breaking the cycle of stress.
So stop now and think about some time off. Make a plan. When could you take some time off? Who could help you? When would the best time be? Visualise a nice place that you could go.
Lots of people will say…’but’ here. And the big but is usually about lack of money or responsibilities. If you have caring responsibilities ask for a break. If you have business responsibilities delegate to a responsible person. If you have no money be creative. For example, could you house swop or join an agency that looks after houses for people? Choose somewhere in the country or seaside if you wish. You could also visit a friend for a day or maybe stay with them.
2. Practice deep breathing
Correct breathing is fundamental to life. We all need to breathe in oxygen and breathe out products that we do not need so breathing correctly is important. Breathing correctly helps you relax.
Breathing exercises help anxiety disorders such as preventing an increase in anxiety, hyperventilating during a panic attack, agoraphobia, headaches, muscle tension, tiredness and irritability.
One of the quickest and most effective ways to relax is to become aware of your breathing and then slow your breathing down. People who are stressed and anxious breathe more rapidly and often have shallow breaths. They breathe from their upper chest rather than using all the thoracic muscles and diaphragm.
An added bonus of breathing correctly is that it keeps your mind and body in harmony.
One way to slow breathing down is to sit down or lie down in a safe place. First notice your breathing, then breathe in for the count of 7, then breathe out for the count of 11. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable stop. People with breathing problems should consult with their healthcare professional before doing breathing exercises.
3. Have a massage
Massages help to loosen tight muscles, improves circulation and lymphatic drainage around the body and increase endorphins that make us feel better. There are many different types of massage so choose the right technique for you. Remedial massage is usually for injuries after sports, Swedish massage and therapeutic massage will help you to relax. Some massages e.g. Shiatsu can be done with light clothing on, You could also just have your feet or hands massaged.
Having a massage also has psychological benefits.
4. Learn Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings) – without judging anything.https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/about-mindfulness/
Although Mindfulness originated from the Buddist religion it is not considered a religious practice because it is used by people from all walks of life around the world.
Mindfulness helps people to relax because you train yourself to just be in the present. You learn to focus your mind on everything in the ‘here and now’. You don’t think about the past or the future because the present is what you can be in control of.
Its a fairly easy process to learn Mindfulness. You could do a course, read a book or use an app.
Mindfulness helps you to relax your mind and body.
5. Start Meditation
Meditation is similar to Mindfulness as it helps you to focus your mind on the present. There are different types of meditation that can be practised on your own or in a group. For example, guided meditation, chakra meditation, movement meditation as with yoga, mantra meditation that includes chanting and transcendental meditation.
There has been lots of scientific research examining the benefits of meditation. Meditation helps you get better sleep, lowers blood pressure, helps you to feel mentally calmer and more focused so helping you to think more clearly. And of course meditation also helps you to relax.
6. Go for a walk in nature
Ecotherapy or using nature to help you relax has become a popular way to reduce stress and help to improve your health and wellbeing. Just like taking a break or holiday, going for a walk in nature helps you by changing your environment. But there are so many more benefits. Walking helps you to reduce tension in muscles, you breathe better outdoors, and nature has a calming effect on the mind.
Walking in nature can be as simple as going for a 10-minute walk in an inner-city park or going to the countryside.
7. Listen to music
Music can also focus the mind and help you relax. Just choose what suits you best. It could be music to dance to or ambient music to listen to.
You can engage in laughter in many ways. You could just sit and watch a good comedy film or you could join a class. Going out with friends and laughing is also good.
Laughter is a known therapy. There are trained laughter therapists and laughter can be part of yoga movements. Laughter improves health and wellbeing and reduces stress.
9. Get creative
Being creative helps people to relax because it focuses the mind and gives people a sense of achievement. Creative tasks can include colouring, drawing, making something, painting, creative writing or even flower arranging. Anything that you enjoy that is creative is good. However, it’s not about the outcome of your creative experience that will help you relax and feel better, rather its something Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘the flow’ or the process of doing something that is important.
10. Start writing a journal
Writing a diary or journal is a good way of letting go of your stress and anxiety because it helps you to stop and focus on the writing. A journal can be in a book or written digitally on your computer. It is important to ensure your journal is safe in case anyone tries to read it.
Finally, there are many more ways that can help you to relax. If you need help Awaken the Change offers relaxation with hypnosis and counselling.