If you’re feeling stressed, worried or anxious about anything in life, sometimes your mind just needs a bit of a break from it all. This doesn’t usually take away whatever is causing your stress or anxiety, but it can help you come back at it with a new focus and a calmer outlook.
Doing relaxation exercises isn’t just for stressful times, incorporating time to relax your mind into your daily routine is known to have many benefits that might even help minimise stress and anxiety occurring in the first place. These include, but are not limited to:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing the heart rate and breathing rate
- Improving sleep quality
- Increasing blood flow to important muscles
- Reducing muscle tension
- Improving digestion
- Helping maintain blood sugar levels
- Reducing fatigue
We’ve compiled some tips for ways to relax quickly that you can not only use when you need them, but can also build into a new daily routine to help you with your wider mental and physical wellbeing too.
Relax by getting active
Known as ‘active relaxation’, gentle exercise can have a truly positive effect on our minds as well as bodies. You can try:
- Going for a walk at your own pace. Even a few minutes walking can help you feel more relaxed
- A yoga or Pilates class. This type of exercise takes focus, which can be great for helping the mind get off your worries and onto the activity itself
- Seated exercises. They can be done at home on any chair and don’t take any equipment or much time – perfect for squeezing into a busy day
Focusing on deep breathing can be very relaxing and help a busy mind to calm down. If you’re starting from a normal breathing rate, you can try:
- Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth
- Try to breathe with your diaphragm, where your stomach rises when you breathe in, rather than your chest
- Breathe in for a count of four or five, then breath out for the same count
If you’re already breathing quickly, for example if you’re having a panic attack, you might not be able to start breathing very slowly from the start of the exercise.
Instead, breath in as slowly as you can through your nose and out through your mouth and gradually increase the count from your starting point as and when you can.
Shift activities for a few minutes
If the activity or task that you’re doing is adding to your stress or anxiety, taking a quick break from it can give your mind the space it needs to calm down. Just a few minutes spent doing something completely different can help, such as reading a magazine article, watching a short video clip, playing a quick game, making a drink or preparing a snack.
Get a dose of nature
Green spaces and fresh air can have a positive impact on your body and mind. If you can get out and about to a local green space, take it at a slow pace and really look at the trees, plants, flowers and any animals you see along the way.
Spending time in your own outdoor space, if you have access to a garden, yard or balcony, can also be relaxing. You can hang up bird feeders to attract wildlife, plant bulbs, seeds or cuttings in pots and focus on doing something practical for a while to give your mind a break.
Take on a creative project
Even if you don’t see yourself as someone who is very creative, it can still be very relaxing to have an outlet for your artistic side – even if no one else ever sees what you make. You can try things like drawing, painting, baking, sewing, knitting, crafting or learning a musical instrument.
Listen to music
Most people have favourite songs that they love which remind them of a specific time, place or person.
Listening to these tunes can help your mind to switch from whatever you’re feeling stressed about and take you back to whatever the songs remind you of, which can help you to relax and take a rain check on whatever is bothering you.
You can sing along, dance, hum, lip sync or whatever else you fancy to help your mind switch off.
It’s very important to take some time to relax your mind as well as your body and the tips shared above can all be done if you can spare just a few minutes during the day.
If you’re finding that you’re unable to relax or switch off from what is stressing you out or causing anxiety, and it means you’re not able to carry on with normal daily life, you can find more help and support on the CALM website or you can speak to your GP.