Oftentimes it seems life only has one speed: Go! And honestly, that can be exhausting. There are only so many hours in the day and the “To Do” lists always seem to get longer and never fully checked off by the end of the day. The truth is, you’re human, and you need to take care of yourself before worrying about getting everything done. Asking more and more of yourself every day can become daunting, and it will eventually burn you out, unless you make time in the day to take care of you. This is where your two new favorite words come in: relax and unwind.
Your body and your brain naturally need to relax and unwind during the day in order for them to work to their full potential, and sometimes you might think you can ignore it and get away with it, when really you’re overworking yourself and creating more stress in your already hectic day. Have you taken time recently to stop and think about how to relax? By giving yourself a little bit of time in your day to just relax and unwind you could elevate your productivity levels and decrease your stress levels, improve your relationships overall and be in a better headspace in general, and that’s a recipe for success.
Failure to take the time to relax and unwind every now and then can not only affect your productivity, it can ultimately affect your health as well. Did you know that living a life of consistent high stress levels is proven to reduce your life expectancy?
Being in a constant state of stress can have a significant impact on your health, your sleep, your memory and your ability to concentrate. It can also negatively affect your work, your relationships and your day to day productivity. So even though at first it might seem counterproductive to take time out of your busy day to unwind, it is crucial to figure out how to relax so that you can maintain and improve your health and your productivity.
So now that you know why it’s important to relax and unwind, let’s get to the good part. Here are a few ways to help you take time out of your day to relax and unwind. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of time to find ways to relax, all it takes is a few minutes.
Here are some easy tips on how to relax a little every day:
It might seem so basic that you don’t even think about it as a way to relax, but taking the time to just focus on your breathing is a fantastic way to stop the hamster wheel for just a few minutes and center yourself again. Breathing is one of the simplest ways to learn how to relax no matter where you are, and it can be as quick as you want it or need it to be. Just take a moment, close your eyes and sit, or lay down wherever you feel comfortable. Put your hand on your stomach so you can connect to your breath and feel your stomach expanding and contracting as you inhale and exhale. Breathe in deeply, hold it for a second or two, and release it. Think of it as giving yourself a big hug, the deeper the inhalation the bigger the hug. Once you switch your mindset to thinking of breathing as a self-hug, you’ll want to do it constantly. Who knew something so simple could feel so good?
If you’re having trouble figuring out where to start you can check your smartphone or smartwatch; most have an app to help guide you through simple breathing exercises.
The great thing about breathing is it takes almost no effort and feels amazing. Just breathe in and out as many times as you want and get ready to feel like a whole new you.
Grounding, sometimes referred to as earthing, is an ancient technique which has been gaining popularity lately, and with good reason: it’s so simple. Take a moment to think about the last time you were at the beach and walked on the sand barefoot. How did it feel to have your feet sink between the grains of sand? How did it feel to have the hot sand mix with the cold ocean water? Can you remember the sound of waves and seagulls in the background? It’s no wonder people yearn for time at the beach, as it is one of the ways we ground ourselves without even realizing it. Grounding is basically connecting with the earth by walking on soil or sand barefoot.
True, the beach is not readily available most of the time, but the good thing is that you can get those same peaceful feelings just by walking barefoot on grass or soil. Grounding is a simple way to show yourself how to relax and it only takes a little time out of your day. When you are feeling like you need a break, kick off your shoes and head to the nearest patch of grass or soil. Stand silently and take a moment to assess how you feel. Go through all your senses, think about what it smells like to be outside, what the ground feels like under your feet… look around you, take it all in. By going outside and practicing grounding for just a few minutes you are calming the mind, relaxing your muscles and also giving yourself a health boost. Grounding is said to improve your immunity, release stress and even help you sleep better.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to sweat or strain yourself for this one if you don’t want to.
It’s common knowledge that exercising releases endorphins, those feel good hormones that your body craves, so it’s no surprise that some people use exercise as a way to relax and unwind. But if you’re not a fan of using your spare time to burn calories, you can still take part in moving. Just a simple 15 minute walk a day can relax your body and your brain, release endorphins, and even help you lose weight.
You can also move by doing gentle stretches, using yoga breathing techniques with small movements, or even putting on your favorite song and dancing to it while no one is watching. Always remember movement is a fast and easy option when deciding how to relax during your busy day.
When you’re thinking about how to relax in a more personal way, consider reaching for pen and paper. Some people like to make lists so they can cross them out as they go, since it feels good to see goals being marked off and your list getting smaller as the day moves along.
However, some people see lists and pending items weighing heavily on their heads, so for them it might be better to make lists of things you have accomplished already, to just focus on the positive and see the progress without focusing on what still needs to be done. Another wonderful way to use writing is to journal. Just set aside some time in your day, it doesn’t have to be much, play some calming music and just write whatever comes to your mind. If you’re having a little writer’s block, then focus on writing three simple things you are grateful for each day. This is a simple yet effective way to focus on the positive and let your brain rest and relax for a few minutes.
5. Tense and Release.
This one is simple and very effective. Take some time out of your busy day and just sit for a moment. Focus on each part of your body, one at a time. Begin with your feet. Tense them, hold it for a couple of seconds and then release. Move on to your legs, then your abdomen, your chest, your hands, your arms, your shoulders, and finish with your face, then repeat if necessary. When you tense your muscles, you hold in all the energy and when you release them you let it go. You’re going to love the way you feel after, as the stress pours out of your muscles. It’s the next best thing to a massage that you can get in such a short time. This is an easy go-to when looking for how to relax.
Seriously, play. There are many ways you can do this. You can partake in a hobby, paint, stitch, rollerblade, dance, or play an instrument. With so many options, you’re sure to find one that you love. And if you don’t you can also just play. Play a video game, a card game, a phone game, anything that will distract your brain for a bit and give it time to rest and to allow itself to not worry about everything that’s on your plate. Watching something light such as a cartoon or a funny show could also be a welcome distraction. Think of it as a carefree, short vacation for the brain, to let it rest and let responsibilities fade away for half an hour or so while you just play.
Self-care is a term that has been used quite a lot lately and it’s not hard to see why. Sometimes you can be so preoccupied with what everyone needs from you that you forget to take care of yourself, and if you don’t take care of yourself, it is going to be much harder for you to care for others. Self-care comes in many different forms; maybe it’s a nice warm bath with candles, or a face mask that allows you to relax while you let it do its magic. Maybe it’s a trip to the hair salon to get your hair done or a manicure or pedicure. Maybe it’s booking that much needed massage or taking a nap. All these little things might seem trivial, but in reality, they do a lot of good. They can improve your mood, reduce your stress levels, and even boost your self-esteem, refreshing you so you can be your best self when taking care of the needs of others. So go ahead and indulge a little…it’s one of the best ways of teaching yourself how to relax.
While figuring out exactly how to relax is up to you, the trick is finding what’s best for you and making yourself a priority. The goal is making sure your life has a nice balance so you can take whatever comes your way in the best way possible.
- What do you currently do to relax and unwind?
- What tips above do you think will help you relax the most?
Borreli, L. (2014, October 30). Effects Of Stress: 5 Surprising Stress-Related Health Problems That May Shorten Your Lifespan.
Retrieved from https://www.medicaldaily.com/effects-stress-5-surprising-stress-related-health-problems-may-shorten-your-lifespan-308512