The demands of the modern world mean that many people feel tense, tired or worn out. If you don’t take time out for yourself, the stress gradually builds and can do long-term damage to your health and wellbeing.
Here are some tips to help you relax and unwind after a hard day of stress.
If you can organise a massage, it’s one of the best things to do for overall wellbeing, as it helps relax both your muscles and your mind.
But if a massage is out of the question, take a hot shower or bath. The heat from the water will relax your muscles and increase circulation. A bath is a great time to do some meditation or practise mindfulness — just don’t fall asleep. You can really relax in the bath with these easy-to-make bath bombs.
Or you can try progressive muscle relaxation. This exercise will help you relax body and mind. If you do it regularly, you will start noticing when different muscles tense during the day, so you can relax them immediately and prevent compounding stress in your muscles.
Start by laying down in a quiet room. Pick one muscle, such as your left hand, and tense it up as much as possible for five seconds. You should be making a tight fist that feels uncomfortable and may be tight enough to shake. But be careful though not to cause shooting or intense pain, which may cause serious damage. Exhale as you relax the muscle quickly. Pay close attention to the difference you feel between a tense muscle and a relaxed one. Keep the muscle relaxed for 15 seconds. Move on to the next muscle group and repeat. Do this for all muscles in your body.
Change into some comfortable clothes or your favourite pyjamas and you’ll start to unwind immediately.
Do some light exercise or stretching to relax and clear your head, by burning off all the mental energy saved up during a long day at work or school. Take an easy walk around the block, or go to a park and enjoy some of what nature has to offer as you walk.
Listen to your favourite relaxing music. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down, put on a set of headphones and enjoy the music for a half hour. Alternately, take half an hour to watch a favourite television show. Don’t binge for two to three hours — just watch for 30 minutes and switch off from everything else.
Read a book or magazine, or listen to an audio book. It’s better for your eyes to read a paper version, so if you prefer using an e-reader or tablet, try to use it without backlighting. A simple Kindle screen looks just like a page in a book, and many tablets have a setting where you can adjust the lighting to look more like paper than a screen.
Do your relaxation outside in the fresh air. Sit in your yard or on the veranda to read or stretch. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea to help calm you. If you have a pet, spend some time with them, particularly if it’s a dog and you can throw a ball in the yard or go for a walk.
It doesn’t take much to help yourself unwind. The hardest part is to make time, but once your time-out becomes a habit you’ll be amazed at how much energy you have.