Learning to relax properly, can be life changing. We were not designed to go at full speed constantly, we need time to unwind, to immerse ourselves in ultimate relaxation so that we recharge. However, a more common thing in today’s society is that we find it hard to take it easy, because we’re conditioned to believe we need to be productive in order to be successful – other people are working just as hard at your age and they’re achieving more? It means you do too. Or that’s what you’re led to believe. The world we live in makes it hard to unwind, and with daily demands that distract us and don’t allow us to take a break, it makes it even more challenging. Success and achievement doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness, if someone were to ask you what your source of happiness is, what would your answer be?
If we don’t take regular, much needed breaks from life, work, relationships – we become drained and lack energy. Our physical, mental, and emotional health can take a hit, and in some severe cases it can lead to burn out. Stress and burnout are closely related; however, burnout makes it difficult for someone to function properly in their daily life due to physical and mental symptoms.
Verywellmind describes burnout as:
“Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characteristics by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability.
If you’re looking to reduce the likelihood of experiencing burnout, and you want to relax more easily without feeling the need to be productive at all times in the day, we’ve created a brief guide to help you less fidgety with relaxation and unwinding. At times, the most productive thing you can do for yourself, and for those around you, is to relax and dedicate some time to yourself.
8 Easy Ways to Relax & Reduce Stress
- Release physical tension – We tend to forget that when we are mentally stressed, and reached our mental capacity, we hold all of this tension and stress in our body. Releasing this negative energy works wonders not only for the body, but for the mind too. Depending on your preference, there are various ways to release physical tension – you can go all out and go for a 5k run, or a HIT training session if that’s what brings you joy, or you can still achieve a healthier mindset and load off by doing gentle exercise. From a walk in nature, to a short 20 minute yoga session – you need to prioritise releasing stress. Not only does exercise, no matter how gentle or intense, help us recharge, but it releases chemicals called dopamine and endorphins, otherwise known as ‘happy’ chemicals.
- Tune into instrumental music – Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain. In addition, it helps improve quality of mood, mental alertness, sleep, and memory. Although all of us have different taste when it comes to music, relaxing and ambient sounds, often found in classical music with soft strings and beautiful pianos and harps, are found to calm and ease anxious and stressful thoughts. You could even consider learning a new instrument as a release!
- Breathing exercises – A lot of people tend to mistake breathing exercises for meditation, but in all honestly it’s just a few exercises to help you control your breathing, so that your body knows you’re okay. Breathing exercises are a simple relaxation technique, you just need to find somewhere comfortable and focus on the breath. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth! You can try 4 7 8 breathing, a popular technique for those who suffer from anxiety.
- Connect to nature – Throughout these various lockdowns, many of us have gone on walks, spent time in nature and well, enjoyed it more than you thought. Getting out in nature, and having some fresh air for a short amount of time can immediately boost your mood and reduce your stress. Scientists in particular have found that by looking at images of nature which featured greenery for 5 minutes can help ease your calm.
- Date night – Date night with yourself, let’s call it a self-care evening. You should aim to have one day at week dedicating to you time, where time is actually yours, you’re not overworking, doing anything else for other people, it’s just for you – it’s that simple. You can choose to have a nice soak in the bath, or read a favourite book, listen to music, watch Avengers Endgame then regret it 3 hours later!
- Visualisation – Visualise what you need. Most of the time, we think we need something, but in reality we don’t. By visualising what you really need, what would make you feel at peace, with less stress, less demands, it can help you reach a more balanced state. The visualisation technique involves imagining what you want to happen in your life, and this is different to dreaming! Dreaming is where anything goes, you can dream of owning 20 Tesla’s and having properties abroad, you’re a billionaire etc. Visualisation is the practice of knowing what you want, they’re logical, achievable, and attainable.
- Flex your creative muscles – We all have a sense of creative art in our lives, whether it’s with words, music, paint, and so on. Writing and journaling is the most popular form of release many of us undertake. It’s simply another form of releasing your negative energy, your negative feelings and putting them onto paper. If you can’t relax properly, it’s most likely because you’re worried about something, and you have something on your mind. By decluttering your mental space, words can give you a new perspective.
- Aromatherapy – Research on aromatherapy has shown that is has many health benefits, especially towards easing anxiety, depression, and stress. Aromatherapy is a type of healing treatment to promote health, well-being, and relaxation. It uses a range of essential oils which are made from natural plant extracts, and you breath them through your nose or put them on your skin to feel the full impact. The purpose of the oils is to activate certain parts of the brain to then have an impact on your emotions! For example, if you smell something so heavenly, you will associate the said thing with it making you feel joy and feel good, this then creates feel good chemicals in the brain.
What does the above have in common? They all feature some level of productivity. So, for those who struggle to relax without feeling the need to be productive, the activities above combine productivity with time you need for yourself.