We all need to relax once in a while, but sometimes it’s difficult to physically turn off the stress and anxiety and let that calming sensation wash over you.
Taking a hot bath isn’t very helpful if you still feel the tension from your day and the stress of what you have to do tomorrow. If you can’t banish those from your mind, then you’re simply stressed and wet instead of relaxed.
Here are some tips to help you become a pro at relaxation so you can actually enjoy some downtime, get refreshed and be ready to tackle what lies ahead.
Relaxation technique #1: Write it down
If your never-ending list of tasks, worries and concerns is swirling through your mind when you’re trying to practice some self-care, try writing it down.
Once you’ve recorded your lengthy to-do list on a smartphone note, your calendar, a planner or whatever piece of scratch paper you have handy, you can rest easy knowing that when you’re ready to tackle it, you won’t miss a thing.
With your to-do list safely recorded, set it aside and start focusing on true relaxation.
Relaxation technique #2: Breathe
Deep breathing is a tried and true way to reduce stress because it communicates to your brain that it needs to slow down and relax.
There are several easy exercises you can do, starting with belly breathing, 4-7-6 breathing, roll breathing and morning breathing.
Check out some instructions here, and try it next time you want to get the most out of your break.
Relaxation technique #3: Literally let it go
Physically release your tension by stretching, strolling or dancing it out. If you can do a full yoga or exercise class, great! Exercising regularly boosts your mood and makes you feel more confident, not to mention that it’s just plain good for you.
If you don’t have time for a full workout, don’t worry. You can still find tension release and relaxation with some simple stretching, walking or a 5-minute dance break.
Relaxation technique #4: Find your jam
Speaking of dancing, find some of your favorite tunes to move to and let your mind succumb to the power of music.
If soothing tunes are more effective at calming your inner stressed out voice, find those and have them at the ready to tell your brain it’s OK to shut down for a bit to recharge.
Relaxation technique #5: Get outside
Research shows that getting into nature and soaking up some sun can have a calming effect.
Ever hear of forest bathing or green therapy? They are trendy terms for taking a walk in the woods, lying on the grass, strolling along the beach or even digging in the dirt while gardening.
It’s like getting a hug from Mother Nature.
Relaxation technique #6: Meditate
You might think this won’t do any good, but if you commit yourself to it, meditation can be a powerful tool.
You don’t have to travel to another country or sit crossed-legged saying “Ohm.” (Although you can if you want to!)
There are plenty of smartphone apps that give a great introduction to simple meditation and visualization exercises that can center your mind and trigger your body to relax no matter where you are.
Relaxation technique #7: Snuggle with a pet
Research shows that petting your furry friend – whether it’s a cat, dog, ferret or fill-in-the-blank – can having calming effects.
Petting a cat has been shown to trigger your body to release oxytocin, which can make you feel less stressed and other research showed a drop in people’s blood pressure when they petted a pooch.
Relaxation technique #8: Try a relaxation supplement
There are various kinds of supplements or teas that are formulated to help you relax, too.
Mix and match
If none of these work for you, try some in combination. Take a supplement for relaxation and go get a nature fix. Practice a breathing exercise while snuggling with your pet or write down your lists of worries and tasks while listening to your favorite music.
Self-care is important. Find out what works for you and make it a regular habit. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when make taking care of yourself a priority.