Modern life isn’t very relaxing. Work, relationships, and personal obligations can be stressful and overwhelming. In spite of how difficult it may seem to make time for yourself, it’s important to set aside the time and attend to your mental wellbeing. Knowing how to relax is a skill. It sounds easy but in execution, it can take a while to finally reach a place where you feel completely at peace.
Why it’s important to know how to relax
Relaxation has numerous benefits, including improving both your mental and physical health. Relaxation should be a part of everyone’s lifestyle and daily routine. Our bodies and minds not only have a limit on their energy, but also their capacity to stay on and 100%.
Relaxing gives you the ability to think with more clarity, which can help you to make better decisions. The more you relax, the better you will be at responding to future situations that can be potentially stressful. Relaxation can also contribute to a healthier body, providing you with more energy and saving you visits to the doctor.
Without proper relaxation routines, we can burn out, become agitated, become more prone to making mistakes, and just feel overall more miserable. Knowing how to relax can buy you back energy, time, and focus. Plus, it just feels great to kick back and unwind from the troubles of daily life.
Speaking of time, it’s important to set out with the intention to make time to relax. Even with a busy schedule, you can fit these easy relaxation tips into your day.
Breathing exercises are some of the easiest relaxation strategies and they’re effective at calming your body and mind when you’re stressed.
To begin these exercises, it’s helpful to find somewhere to sit or lie down. A quiet place is often best. Put one of your hands on your belly and breathe in to a slow count of three. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Continue to breathe at a normal pace, which feels more comfortable and relaxing to you.
You should be able to feel your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. Repeat this exercise five times. You can continue the exercise until you feel fully relaxed. Remember to breathe at a pace that’s not too quick. We’re not trying to hyperventilate, which can happen when we’re anxious or stressed. Be mindful of the breath.
2. Release physical tension
Feeling mentally stressed is often associated with feeling physically stressed as well. Releasing physical tension can be an effective means to relieve the tension in both your body and mind.
To do this, you can lie on a soft surface, like your bed, a yoga mat or even a carpet. The process involves tensing different parts of your body, one at a time. When you tense a body part, keep it tense for several seconds before slowly releasing your muscles.
As you do this, try to pay attention to the ways in which your body sensations change. People who practice this relaxation technique often start with their facial or toe muscles, before working through to muscles across the opposite end of their bodies.
Stretching or yoga are also great ways to help you release physical tension.
3. Write down your thoughts
Writing things down is an accessible, simple, and effective method to help you relax. When you find yourself feeling stressed, taking a few minutes to write short notes about how you feel can help to release mental tension.
You can also include how your day is going. You can jot your thoughts down in a notebook or in the notes app on your phone.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You don’t need to follow a system or method. That just adds more complexity and stress. Go with the flow and write in the way and about the things that feel easiest to you.
The key here is that you want to use the paper and pen as an outlet for your emotions. It’s a way to collect and organize your thoughts. These are the things causing overthinking that are preventing you from relaxing.
Putting them down somewhere and out of your head is like lifting a giant weight from your shoulders.
4. Make a list
One of the things you can do to relieve stress is write down a list of the things that you’re grateful for.
Experts say that we tend to focus on the negative aspects of life when we’re stressed, as opposed to the positive. Directing your thoughts to the positive parts of your life can help you feel a little more relaxed.
You can start by trying to think about four good things that you experienced over the course of the day, even if they are small things you’d otherwise ignore on any other day.
Gratitude is a great way to provide a little more perspective on our own lives, especially when our mind is lost in thoughts about stress and what is happening in our life, preventing us from truly relaxing.
5. Visualize your calm
An expression that is commonly used is “find your happy place.” You can put that to practice by sitting in a quiet and safe place. Your bedroom is a good option.
The first step is to imagine a place in the world where you feel calm. To make it more effective, you can close eyes and start thinking about different aspects of that place, such as the sight, sounds, smell and even taste.
For example, if you start visualizing being at the beach, you can imagine the calm waves, sounds of children playing, the pervasive smell of the sunscreen, the taste of ice cream and the feeling of rough sand on your feet. The more you immerse yourself in your visualization, the more relaxing the technique will be.
It doesn’t need to be a cliched beach either. It can be the house you grew up in, it can be in the arms of your partner, or it can be somewhere you’d love to visit one day or are looking forward to visiting.
6. Connect to nature
When you are having trouble figuring out how to relax, you might find it helpful to spend some time in nature.
You can do this by taking a step outside and breathing in some fresh air while paying attention to your surroundings. If you have more time, you can even go for a walk.
If you don’t have access to nature, a technique you might try is looking at pictures of nature. Scientists have found that merely looking at pictures of nature or greenery for five or more minutes can be just as effective.
Either way, remember that human beings have evolved to be surrounded by nature. Don’t neglect the side of your being that craves being out in the fresh air, near trees, insects, and animals.
7. Listen to music
Listening to music can be an effective way to help you relax. If there’s a song you particularly like, you can listen to it only when you want to relax. This technique works better if the song is one that you have a sentimental attachment to, such as a song you remember from your childhood.
Some songs are ideal for getting you in a relaxed mood, such as songs with soft vocals. You can save the songs that help you relax in a playlist and play them whenever you are feeling stressed. You can get into this practice a few times a day to ensure that you maintain a calm state of mind.
Alternatively, you can try listening to sounds of nature if there isn’t a particular genre of music that relaxes you..
8. Practice meditation and mindfulness
There are some easy meditation techniques that you can try to help you relax. These involve sitting somewhere silent, closing your eyes and clearing your mind. The more you practice the techniques, the easier they get.
Your time to relax
Relaxation doesn’t have to be a tedious process. Relaxation should be relaxing! You likely schedule everything else in already: work, school, dates, chores, etc. Schedule in your relaxation time and start making time for yourself.
Got any relaxation tips that you find work really well for yourself? Share them below in the comments and we’ll highlight our favorites.