Stress is a killer. True story. In the USA alone, around 120,000 people die each year from stress related issues. And that’s not counting those with other health issues, or even international figures.
So, knowing how to relax is not just an important skill, it might actually save your life.
Let’s be honest here too. The past year has been stressful for everyone, with the Covid-19 pandemic and all. Our usual channels of relaxation such as going out to party, taking a holiday or meeting up with friends, well.. They’ve been mostly off limits, right.
So there are our seven easiest and best relaxation tips, even if you don’t have the time.
1. Just breathe
Yeah, you already do this one right? You probably don’t even think about it.
Actually, doing some simple mindfulness based breathing exercises is one of the basic ways to embrace relaxation. And you only need about one minute to do it.
Try this. Stop whatever it is you’re doing and close your eyes, and just continue to breathe as normal.
Focus on your breathing and try to let your thoughts drift into the back of your mind.
As you focus on your breathing, feel the tension in your body, perhaps your shoulders, your brow or your mouth… And try to relax those individual parts slowly. If you’ve never done this before, I think thuis will blow your mind.
By focussing on your breathing, you’re giving yourself a moment to just step away from whatever it is that is causing you stress. Of course, you can do this for longer and go for a full meditation experience. But I guarantee you that learning how to just relax for one minute can make a HUGE difference to your day.
2. Make time to walk
Just walking. Not running. Not working out. Not even walking anywhere in particular.
A ten minute walk with no purpose other than to walk can be an incredibly relaxing and cleansing experience.
Walk around your local park, a beauty spot near you, or just around your garden or living room if you have to.
Another great thing about walking is that it’s excellent exercise, almost as good as jogging. And if you’re in a sedentary job, getting the blood moving can be beneficial for many reasons including your general health.
As a relaxation tip, try and do a ten or twenty minute walk on your lunch break and after work.
3. Put your phone down
When you’re bored or having a quiet moment, how often do you pick up your phone? Be honest.
Most of us read the news on the toilet, obsessively scroll social media on our commute, read our emails while commuting and get sucked into videos when we should be going to bed.
When you sit down to relax, or are waiting perhaps for the bus or the doctor, try to NOT touch your phone. Instead, just look around you, take a moment to let your thoughts wonder and resist that urge to check your Whatsapp messages (even if you can feel your phone buzzing). Whatever it is can probaly wait.
The art of wasting time is one that is fast being lost, and is actually an incredibly useful anti-stress tool. Learn to stop relying on your phone for a distraction 24/7, and rediscover what it’s like to just think aimlessly for a bit.
4. Go to bed earlier
Just one more episode of Netflix? If you’re always tired, or you usually feel like you didn’t sleep well, try and go to bed one hour earlier.
Many of us find plenty of excuses to avoid going to bed, usually watching TV, playing games or being sucked into our devices. If you want to relax in your daily life, being well rested is an essential foundation.
Make a point of being in bed an hour earlier than you normally would be and see how you feel the next day. I bet you feel amazing!
5. Eat slower
Did you know that your gut health has a big impact on your general health? And part of this is your state of mind when you’re eating, and the speed at which you eat.
At every meal, take a moment to stop, take a breath and relax for ten seconds. Look at your food, enjoy the smell and rather than burying your head in, slowly take a piece and chew it for around ten chews before you take another.
If you’ve never done this before, it can be quite a challenge. But… You will discover tastes you never knew were there, and you will give your body a chance to process your food. You might also experience less indigestion, wind and other stomach problems.
Oh. And try to avoid watching TV or the internet while eating too.
6. Slow down
Always going 100 mph? I know, there is so much to do, and only so many hours in the day. And with work, family, friends and whatever else is going on, how can we cram in everything?
It might seem counter intuitive, but actually slowing down what you are doing can make your more productive (and less stressed).
If you want to feel more relaxed, build a strategy to help you focus on your day.
7. Have fun
Blowing off steam is just as important as learning how to relax. And, with the world having been in a lockdown for most of the past year, rediscovering fun is a major part of our mental health management.
Finding a sport or a hobby is a great way to relax and to get some of those endorphins pumping through your system.
Rediscovering a sport you might have given up on, playing games, playing an instrument or even just having a laugh with a friend. All great ways to release those happy hormones and unwind.