Even if you feel like you lead a fairly casual lifestyle, it is still important to get some deliberate relaxation time in regularly.
Relaxation is an important part of daily life –it improves mental and physical health, promotes healing, improves bodily functions such as digestion and boosts immunity. When we relax, our bodies switch into a different mode, producing chemicals which counter the harmful effects of stress and our bodies evoke a natural, more relaxed response. These chemicals can reduce our blood pressure, help to relieve pain and boost the metabolism. Studies have shown that people who schedule their relaxation time right before bed even had improved sleep quality which led to better overall wellbeing throughout the day.
Long term, practicing relaxation can enhance our overall health by producing these benefits regularly. Getting in some regular relaxation over a period of years can even lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Experts recommend getting at least ten to twenty minutes of relaxation in, a day in order to form a daily habit and reap the long term benefits of relaxation.
There is no one right way of achieving relaxation. What is important is finding the best way for you to relax, and practicing it regularly. You might have a particular favorite way of kicking back, or you might like to shake things up and try something different each day. Whether you choose to take a Tai Chi class, read a good book or take a long soak in the bubble bath, pick something that will be soothing to you and make a habit of it.
Here’s our list of 26 ways to relax:
- Taking just a few minutes a day to meditate has been proven to ease anxiety and make you physically, and mentally more resilient to stress. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor and close your eyes. Recite out loud, or internally, a positive affirmation such as “I am feeling positive and healthy today,” or “I am patient, calm and at ease today.”
- Five minutes of deep breathing works wonders. Sit up straight in a chair with your eyes closed and place one hand on your belly. Inhale deeply through your nose, feeling the breath filling your abdomen and working its way into your upper chest. When you exhale, reverse the process – feel the breath leaving your belly first before emptying your lungs and throat.
- Body Mindfulness. Lie down on your bed or the floor and tense and relax each part of your body. Starting with your toes, tense them up, then relax them. Next do the same with your ankles and work your way up your body to your face and head.
- Enjoy Heat. If it’s a beautiful day outside, go and lie down in the sun for ten minutes and feel your body soaking up the heat. If it’s winter or cold outside, heat up a towel or wheat bag and wrap it around your neck and shoulders while you lie down for ten minutes with your eyes closed, releasing the tension and being mindful of how your body feels.
- Listen To Music. Studies have shown that listening to soothing music has many benefits including lowering your blood pressure, heart rate and symptoms of anxiety. Create a playlist of songs that move you and lie back with your eyes closed as you absorb the different melodies and rhythms.
- Though it sounds like an oxymoron, exercise can actually be a fantastic form of relaxation. All forms of exercise have proven to decrease stress levels by producing feel-good chemicals in the brain and giving you mental clarity. Whether it’s a quick walk around the block, a 45-minute aerobics session or some quick stretches, get off the couch and move!
- Write a Letter. People love to send and receive mail and sitting down to pen a letter can be a lovely, old-fashioned way to unwind. It doesn’t have to be long – just a little note to tell someone that you care. If you don’t have anyone you want to write to then why not try writing a journal entry to yourself.
- Listen to a Podcast. With free podcasts available on every subject imaginable, it won’t be hard to find something that piques your interest. Choose a topic that you will enjoy and kick back for a while.
- Take a Bath or Shower. Light some scented candles and relax in the tub. If you don’t have a bath, take a nice long, hot shower. Pamper yourself a little!
- Nothing is more relaxing than reading. Whether it is your favorite book or just a magazine that you enjoy, lie back and get some reading in.
- Some people are surprised by how relaxing gardening can be. Whether you decide to put some music on while you water your houseplants or get out and dig up your lawn for growing vegetables – tending to a garden (large or small) offers many great benefits for both the body and mind and will provide a relaxing solace from your everyday tasks.
- Go Swimming. Whether you have access to a local beach or simply a community swimming pool, the serenity of being in the water will work wonders on your body. Physically, swimming is a fantastic way to take the pressure of your joints and muscles while mentally swimming is a great way to unwind and clear your head.
- While napping is normally associated with being a child or elderly person, it can actually offer some amazing benefits such as boosting mood and performance as well as improving overall wellbeing. Taking a nap during the day can also be a great way to catch up on sleep if you are feeling over tired or you are having difficulty sleeping at night.
- Try Yoga. Yoga is hailed worldwide for its ability to produce relaxed people and it’s not hard to do. Set aside just ten to twenty minutes a day to focus on stretching and releasing tension in your body and you’ll be amazed at how great you feel.
- Visit Art Galleries. Walking around an art gallery on your own can be a very relaxing, calming experience. Take yourself to the nearest free gallery and spend the afternoon with yourself and the art.
- Visit a Park or Garden. Being out in a green area has been proven to improve mood and state of mind in just a few minutes. Whether you decide to organise a picnic with friends or simply go for a stroll on your own, visiting a local park will be sure to give you the relaxation you need.
- Watch Movies. If there is a show that you’ve always wanted to watch or movies that you enjoy watching over and over, then rent the DVDs, get back into your pyjamas and spend an afternoon binge-watching them.
- Have Your Car Detailed. Take your car to be cleaned and detailed while you chill out in the waiting area, drinking coffee and reading a magazine.
- Indulge in Retail Therapy. Whether you have a lot of money to spend or not, set aside some money that you can use to go shopping for something you have been wanting – even if it’s just a $10 purse that you saw in a window.
- Pull out old photo albums and spend an hour remembering the good times
- Enjoy a Meal. Make your favorite meal and enjoy it – use your best china, a placemat and a cloth napkin and take the time to really taste your food with a glass of wine.
- If you are feeling particularly stressed, grab a piece of paper and write down all the things that are making you feel this way. Put the list away somewhere and try to stop worrying about them. Later, when you feel like it, you can take the list back out and deal with the things that are on it.
- Get a Massage. There’s nothing like a deep tissue massage to make you feel truly relaxed. Splurge a little and book yourself in for a massage or other relaxing spa treatment – you deserve it!
- Relax With Water. Visit your nearest beach, lake or even fountain and sit for half an hour watching the water flow. Water has been proven to have a calming effect on people both physically and mentally and is a great way to unwind and clear your head.
- Cloud Watch. Relive your childhood by lying outside – on the ground or on a sun lounger – and watch the clouds roll by.
- Express Yourself. Explore your artistic side by drawing, painting or crafting something.