Do you need to learn how to relax?

Life is just busy. In this modern world we are constantly on the go and our brains are continually taking in information. We can all resonate with the feeling of being stressed: the phone is ringing, emails are coming in, the kids are shouting, the doorbell is going, FOMO, someone needs an answer NOW! 

It’s all go go go and our bodies can sometimes shout for us to just stop, slow down and take a moment or two out.

Why is it so important to switch off?
Learning to relax is so important for our health and wellbeing. Taking some time off for relaxation is vital to give your mind and body the chance to switch off. 

All too often we switch from one thing to another and our brains are forever on high alert. Anxiety can often be a result of never switching off. 

So, taking some time out to give you a chance to step back and regain a clearer focus ensures that you can be the best person, parent, employee.  After taking time out you will have more energy and focus and that will help you get your stuff done (1)

Some clues that you are in need of switching off:

  • You feel constantly tired
  • You feel upset for no real reason
  • You lose your temper (more readily than normal!)
  • You find it hard to focus and concentrate 
  • You have difficulty making decisions
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • You feel like you are pushing though to get stuff done (but struggling as you do so) (2)

How can I switch off during my busy day?
Fit some things into your day that will help you to relax. Whatever it is, this time is for YOU but here are some ideas to help you feel more calm and relaxed.

My top ten tips for relaxing:

  1. Take 10 minutes to meditate, do some yoga, some stretching exercises or deep breathing exercises (3)
  2. Put your phone away, turn off your alerts, unplug from social media and listen to some relaxing music or a meditation app or just look out the window to clear your mind 
  3. Exercise - go for a run, walk, do a gym session, yoga class - all forms of taking time out. Exercise is a very good way of de-stressing and the endorphins will leave you feeling uplifted 
  4. Have some time with nature, go and sit on a bench, watch the wind blowing through the trees, walk barefoot on the grass or lie on the grass and soak up the energy from the ground. This is one of my personal favourites! Connecting with nature and getting out in the fresh air helps you to feel calmer and can help you sleep better (4)
  5. Cooking can be very therapeutic - so get creative and try out a new recipe. I often turn the music up and have a little dance too. Sounds silly but it’s good!
  6. Laugh -  whether it’s with a friend or YouTube your favourite comedian - laughter is a form of therapy
  7. Go into a book shop or museum or gallery and have a walk about. These places ooze calm and tranquility. Or sit and read something purely for enjoyment; the escapism is great for switching off
  8. Meet a friend for a coffee and your friend will give you a fresh perspective on things if something is troubling you. You will probably have a laugh too. Or phone a friend who you know makes you feel good, laugh and gives you sound advice if needed. Don’t pretend you’re ok if you are not, share the load
  9. Pamper yourself, go for a massage, get your nails or hair done. Or, if you can’t get out, pop on a face mask and lie on your bed for 15 minutes or finish the day with a relaxing soak in a bath with some essential oils, light some candles and put on some relaxing music
  10. Try to turn off your screens after your supper and allow yourself some time to relax

Key steps for going forward
Learn to say NO to things. If you keep saying yes, this is likely to lead to 'burn out'. This can be very hard to do but, once you do, it’s very empowering. It’s totally fine to say no to things and not overload yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s looking after yourself. Spread your time wisely. Just politely say something like, “sorry I can’t help at this time because I want to do it properly and therefore not let you down.” 

On a personal note
I know, as I have suffered myself and have learnt the hard way. I really have. I have learnt to say no. I have had to become comfortable with really doing ‘nothing’.  On a daily basis I make sure I exercise in some shape or form - admittedly mainly for my mental health because, if I don’t, I feel out of sorts. It helps me to feel centered. Every week, I book in some time (like an appointment) and do something for ‘me’… it can often be as simple as reading a magazine in a coffee shop on my own! It starts with awareness and I have had to let go of perfectionism tendencies and stop setting myself unrealistic goals. I remind myself that I am human and I now allow myself to make mistakes. 

What if I just don’t have time to switch off?
Over a period of time, increased levels of stress and anxiety can lead to an abundance of serious health problems. This is precisely why you should not wait until stress has a negative impact on your life (5)

Taking time for yourself to relax will help you to manage stress, help your mental health and hopefully alleviate anxiety and insomnia and also help prevent depression. 

Remember Balance in life is key……

* It is important to seek professional help if your stress or anxiety is an ongoing concern and it starts to affect your health.