It’s hard to relax. Many people drag stress and tension with them everywhere, even when they have a break. If you have a hard time relaxing when you get the chance, you’re in good company.
Here are 5 simple ways to relax when you have a break in your day or week.
1. Move First
Get into your body and out of your head. Walk, jog, practice yoga…the modality doesn’t matter. Just move. Movement boosts endorphins, which reduce stress and improve mood, priming your mind and body to relax.
2. Write it Out
Grab a pen and paper and write down everything on your mind. Don’t worry about complete sentences. Just get it all out on paper. This isn’t a to-do list, although you can include to-do items if that is useful. It’s more of a “brain dump,” a chance to hand over everything swimming around in your mind. This way you don’t have to keep track of it all while you’re trying to relax. The paper will hang onto it for you.
3. Go Upside Down
Place your head lower than your heart to move your nervous system into relaxation mode. In upside down positions, the body works automatically to regulate blood flow to the brain. Heartrate slows and blood pressure may drop, creating a sense of calm, cool, collectedness. For simple, stress-free inversions, try legs-up-the-wall, supported bridge, or rag doll.
4. Breathe Deeply
Average adults take about 22,000 breaths per day. When you want to relax, pay attention to your breaths. Watch the air move in and out of your body, and notice how your breath naturally slow down. Soften your abdomen if you can, release your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Give yourself time to inhale deeply and exhale completely. Breathing deeply brings you into the present moment and soothes your nervous system at the same time.
5. Take the Pressure Off
If you still can’t relax, it’s ok. Take the pressure off yourself. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. Keep coming back, and keep using these tools and adding more of your own. With time and perseverance, you will feel the benefits in your body and mind.