Exploring relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you’re feeling stressed or busy. Relaxation techniques also are often free or low cost, pose little risk, and can be done just about anywhere. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do. Relax. You deserve it, it’s good for you, and it takes less time than you think. You don’t need a spa weekend or a retreat. Each of these stress-relieving tips can get you from OMG to om in less than 5 minutes.
Focus on your breathing
Is there any simpler way to relax? Slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. 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 to 4 as you breathe in, 4 as you breathe out, then work out what’s comfortable for you.
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, play with your pet or try out a new recipe.
Try active relaxation
Relaxation doesn’t have to mean sitting still – gentle exercise can help you relax too. Look for a class like yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching. Standing up for a quick stretch can relieve muscle tension and help us relax during a stressful workday. Take a walk around the block. You’ll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts! You might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed.
Spend time in nature
Spending time outside and in green spaces can be great for your physical and mental wellbeing. If it’s a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression. 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.
Spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that’s digging in your own garden or taking part in a local green project. You can find projects and outdoor activities to suit whatever level of mobility you have.
Smell some flowers. Really, stop and smell ’em. Certain odors can change our mood, and it’s hard to feel angry or upset with a nose full of roses. Keep a fresh jar of your favorite flowers near your workspace or in the living room, and take a whiff whenever anxiety strikes.
Try aromatherapy. It takes just a minute to drip some lavender, tea tree, or another essential oil into your palm and inhale. The soothing scents may help send stress and anxiety packing by stimulating smell receptors in the nose that connect to the part of the brain that regulates emotions.
Listen to music
Music can relax you, connect you to your emotions and distract you from worrying thoughts. Listen to your favourite songs. Beyonce, Blondie, or
the Biebster, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. Turn up the volume and dance or sing along. Research suggests people feel less anxious after a few months of modern dance, but if that’s not your style, five minutes of the funky chicken probably works, too. If you’re in a public place (that isn’t the opera), just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime. 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.
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.
Bite into chocolate. Just a square of the sweet stuff can calm your nerves. Dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes metabolism.
Slurp some honey. Replace stress with sweetness and try a spoonful of honey. Besides being a natural skin moisturizer and antibiotic, honey also provides compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain, meaning it fights depression and anxiety.
Bite into a mango. Take a tropical vacation without leaving the desk chair. Use a five-minute break to peel, slice, and bite into a juicy mango, which packs a compound called linalool that helps lower stress levels. Don’t fret about the juice dripping down your chin—the stress relief is worth the mess.
Chew gum. Minty, fruity, or bubble-gum flavor, a stick of gum is a surprisingly quick and easy way to beat stress. Just a few minutes of chewing can actually reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels.
Talk to a friend
When something’s really bothering you, it can help to share your feelings with a pal. In fact, more talkative folks tend to be happier in general. So vent to a coworker or call a close family member and spill. And also don’t forget to laugh. Laughter’s one of the sillier ways to beat stress, but there’s science behind it. A fit of hysterics can increase blood flow and boost immunity. Keep a book of jokes handy in the desk drawer or check out a hilarious YouTube video (maybe a piano-playing pug?) for a quick pick-me-up.
Getting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel more calm and relaxed. Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing. Try not to worry too much about the finished product, and focus on enjoying yourself.
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 – try some of the ideas above!