- Mental Health
9 Simple Ways to Relax
I'm always looking for new ways to relax. Sometimes I am so desperate that if you tell me that eating a whole raw garlic head will help me relax, chances are I will eat two.
Life can be so stressing at times that we all need to find out ways to vent and to let everything out, and even though relaxation should come to us naturally, sometimes we don't know what to do in order to achieve a calm, relaxed state.
What not to do to relax
If you have been blessed with some free time and you need to relax, here's a list of things you should NOT do:
- Watch TV - it will only leave you feeling tired and groggy.
- Surf the internet - it will have the same effect as television.
- Play videogames (or any other game in an electronic device) - videogames don't help you relax. Even though they entertain you, they will not make you feel relaxed.
- Get drunk - even though alcohol can make you feel relaxed at first, the after effect is anything but relaxing.
- Read something boring - some say that reading something boring is a sure way of sending you to sleep, thus relaxing you. But it doesn't. When you're reading something boring or complex, your brain will inevitably try to make sense of what you're reading, thus causing more stress and having the opposite effect.
Now that we went over a few "don't's", let's look at a few do's.
Simple ways to relax
The relaxing technique you choose will vary depending on how much time you have available. I love quick relaxing techniques, but I have noticed that the more time I devote to relaxing, the better I feel afterward and the longer the effect will last. Ideally, we should all strive for 30 minutes a day devoted merely to relaxation. This would make a great vaccine against stress, anxiety and all the bad boys that come as a result of a racing mind.
Let's look at a few quick ways to relax
How do you know if you're breathing in a relaxed way?
A simple way to know if you're breathing in a relaxed way is by placing your hand on your abdomen. If your hand ascends and descends with every breath, you're doing it right.
If, however, your chest is the one ascending and descending, you might be stressed and tense.
A simple to relax is to "belly breathe", or breathing using your diaphragm into your abdomen.
The body pairs how you feel physically to how you feel mentally, which is the reason why your body can take the lead in changing your emotional and mental state.
Studies have shown that just holding a cup of warm liquid can make you feel warm, cozy and even friendlier toward others.
If you want to relax, you may choose to:
- Hold a cup of warm water
- Drink something warm
- take a long, hot shower
- take a long, warm bath
- Soak your feet in warm water for 15 minutes before bedtime
Hold on to your thumb
Completely wrap one of your thumbs with the opposite hand. Hold it and massage it for 3 to 5 minutes, then change hands and repeat the process. Concentrate on the feeling you get every time you massage your thumb and pay attention to every movement.
Closing your eyes during this process will make it a more delightful
I'm not entirely sure why this help, but it does. It's like a quick,
relaxing, cozy, self-massage. Give it a try to find for yourself!
Don't count when you breathe
Counting can distract you from actually feeling your breath and listening to your body.
You can count for the first few times you try breathing as a relaxing technique to get a sense of how long you should inhale and exhale for, but after you have it down, just start feeling every breath and concentrate your mind on how the breath feels and how your belly moves every time you breathe.
We have become to accustomed to breathing that we do it without even thinking or even noticing it. However, if we want to relax we must take LeAnn Rimes' advice in her "I hope you dance" song: "never take one single breath for granted."
Did you know that When we become tense or hurried we tend to keep more air in and our breathing becomes shallow?
To counteract the body's stress response, and to activite the relaxing abilities, we must slow down our breathing and become conscious of it.
Here's what you can do:
- Place your hand on you abdomen
- Inhale for about 5 seconds and feel your hand move upward
- Hold your breath for about 3-5 seconds
- Exhale for about 7 seconds and feel how your hand descends
*The longer the exhale, the more relaxed you'll feel. Also, the exhaling
time should always be longer than the inhaled time.
This is a quick and easy method to relax. The best part is that you can do it anywhere and anytime, even while you're at the office.
Multitasking makes life more complicated and makes us more prone to mistakes, which in turn causes our brain to feel more stressed. When you feel more stressed, you tend to make even more mistakes, and everything just turns into a downward, vicious circle.
Your clothes can pretty much determine how you will feel for the rest of the day. Wear something that will make you feel comfortable, and stay away from tight clothing.
If you wear anything that makes you feel self-conscious, you are just running away from relax city! In fact, you're running in the opposite direction: straight to Stressed-and-ready-to-kill-myself metropolis.
Use your sense of touch
Touching others can be extremely relaxing. In fact, physical contact with others reduces blood pressure and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), as well as strengthening your connection with the other person.
So go ahead and hug your loved ones, massage your kids or significant other, or you can even just pet your dog.
Take a moment to be here. Don't live in the future (anxiety) and don't live in the past (depression). Just be here and become aware of what is going on around you: the noises, the feeling, the atmosphere.
See everything as if you were seeing it for the first time. Become aware of your breathing and of what your body is feeling. Feel your heartbeat and your breath. Just be.
See your thoughts from a distance
Imagine yourself standing at the top of a mountain. See your thoughts passing by without judging them. Simply recognize them and label them.
For example, let's say you're feeling tense because you've gained some weight and you feel fat, or because you've lost a lot hair in the past year and you feel self-conscious. Here's what you do with that thought:
- Stand at the point of the mountain and picture your thought passing by.
- Label your thought. Say: "That's anxiety, and that's how anxiety feels."
- And let it go.
- Move on to your next thought or just concentrate on being mindful.
Take a mental trip
Close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine yourself in your favorite place, whether it be real or imaginary, and stay there until it feels right to come back.
Do whatever you need to do to relax! It's the only way we can actually live life. Happy living!