Do you ever get tired of people telling you to relax? Perhaps you are really busy person and are trying to fit more things in every minute of the day. You know that you need to relax but that is easier said than done.
If there is one thing I hear regularly as a therapist and that is the difficulty some people have in relaxing.
They can’t sleep. Or they can’t sit still and stop fidgeting. They often feel stressed and anxious and may have panic attacks. And when it gets that bad this is when they come to see me.
It’s a shame that they didn’t find a way to relax but sometimes life can be overwhelming and people need the space and support of a therapist.
These people aren’t stupid, in fact, they are often the most intelligent and clever people. I respect them for all their achievements in life and their ability to get help when they need it. But they still struggle to relax.
It’s almost like they are on a hamster wheel and can’t jump off.
Their mind keeps flashing anxious thoughts such as am I good enough or I have got to do more.
They know that getting life in balance is important. They want to relax because relaxation has so many health benefits, and they know this, but they find it difficult.
If this is you, and you feel that everything is just too stressful, this blog can help. It’s a mixture of the 7 best, low-cost ways that people have told me that they have found to relax.
I have also used them myself at times because I’m a bit of a workaholic as well!
1. Practice deep breathing
It sounds too simple to be true, but deep breathing where you allow the out-breath to be a little longer and slower than the in- breath will change your body’s chemistry and you will calm down.
This is a great de-stressor when you are busy at work.
There are lots of breathing techniques but I suggest that the easiest to remember is 7/11 breathing. This means that you breathe in for the count of 7 and out for the count of 11. (Go to the National Health Service website for more dep breathing techniques.)
It can also be used when going for a walk outside in nature to help you relax more.
Just get into the routine of either standing upright or sitting up and taking some deep breaths. 3 deep breaths should be fine but always breathe to your own limitations and don’t start changing your breathing patterns if you have any breathing difficulties without consulting with your doctor or healthcare professional first.
Deep breathing is an easy way to relax and costs you nothing more than a few minutes of your time.
2. Gentle exercise
Most people tell me that they can’t exercise because they don’t have time. However, when they are thinking of exercise it’s often visions of the gym or going swimming. These activities do take a lot of time travelling to the venue and getting changed. They are also often expensive and require membership fees.
Nevertheless, a lot of people can find 10 minutes in the day to go for a walk. Walking is a great exercise because you do it at your own pace and you change your stressful environment.
Business people often tell me that they go for a walk at lunchtime. (Of course, they need to take at least a short lunch break and I know that may be one of the first hurdles to get over!).
Stretching daily can also help to loosen muscles so you can relax. Make sure you don’t overdo it and stop if you have any pain or discomfort.
Walking and stretching are two easy, low-cost ways to relax and improve your health.
3. Listen to music
Think about it.
Music brings people together whether it’s a national anthem or a pop song at a gig. People even sing together when watching TV.
So listening can be on your own or with others.
Music can help to distract you away from problems or it can help you to become creative if there is a problem.
Lots of my clients tell me that they like to listen to music before they go to sleep as music helps them to switch off their minds and relax.
Listening to music has many benefits to emotional and physical health, and again it can be low-cost.
4. Wach your favourite comedy on the TV
Laughter is a great de-stressor and will help you to relax.
It doesn’t need to be laughter from a TV comedy, rather it could be having a laugh with friends or reading a joke book.
There are so many benefits from laughter and some benefits might be a surprise to you.
Besides helping you to relax, the benefits of laughter can include helping to burn calories and it can boost your immune system.
5. Have a relaxing bath
Sounds too simple? Well, many of the simplest ways of relaxing are simple and low cost.
To make the time in the bath a bit different you could add aromatherapy oils or your favourite bath products.
Some people might have candles in the bathroom and others might listen to music as well.
Having a relaxing bath is ‘me time’.
Okay, maybe you aren’t a singer or maybe you can’t sing. But have you tried?
Doing something different will help to break a cycle of stress.
So where can you sing?
You can sing on your own or in a group.
You can sing in the shower or bath. You can sing in your car on the way to work. You can sing to your young children. And it won’t cost you anything.
People who decide to sing in a group have lots of choices. They can join a choir, sing with a group online or sing with friends.
There is lots of evidence that singing helps you to relax but if you really can’t sing then you could try humming.
According to the Sing Up Foundation, the benefits of singing include:
- Boosting confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy
- Helping you to relax and let go of stress and tension
- Improving breathing
- Developing cohesion and a community spirit with others
- Contributing to pain reduction
- Allowing you to express emotions
7. Learn to relax your mind
This is important as many people aim to relax their bodies but sometimes forget that the mindset is just as important when relaxing.
There are lots of ways to choose.
You could learn yoga, Mindfulness relaxation or self-hypnosis and practice it at home.
Many people tell me that they have stopped doing some of their favourite past times. So you could start them again or do some colouring or other artwork.
Finally, if you need to relax and are struggling, get some help.
I offer Mindfulness, counselling and hypnotherapy.