Whether you're busy or not, it can be tough to set time aside for you. Stress from everyday life impacts us all differently. You may look around and see 1,000 things that need doing and never end up taking a minute to yourself. Taking time to relax when you need it is beneficial for your overall health and mind. Some of the benefits are lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease and fewer digestive problems. Relaxation can also help you think more clearly, which leads to better decision-making and improved memory.
You may have heard of the 5 am club, it's a worldwide club that encourages waking up at 5 am to give yourself a full hour to yourself. This means not doing any chores, work or tending to anyone else. It is your time. The theory is that you spend 20 minutes reading, 20 minutes writing and 20 minutes exercising or stretching. Having joined this club, it's a nice way to get some time in for yourself before everyday life hits you. If you aren’t a big fan of waking up at 5 am, maybe you can take this practice into your day another way or time, the idea being that you only spend time on yourself.
So we all have those days where we need to take a step back and refocus our energy on ourselves. Unwinding after having a stressful day is a skill that not many pursue. Keeping yourself busy without taking the time to relax can leave you with a burnt-out mind and body.
Some techniques that help the relaxation process are:
1. Breathwork. Simple? You do this every day. Well not quite. Learning and practising different breathwork techniques will aid you in achieving deeper relaxation. Make you feel a heightened sense of calm and it can reduce your anxiety. Doing breathing exercises before bed can also set you up for a peaceful deep sleep.
2. Meditate. Similar to breathwork in that you become deeply relaxed, however, meditation practises can vary. It tends to be a way of focusing your thoughts inward. Reducing stress is a huge benefit but it can also reduce the risk of heart disease together with high blood pressure. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Follow your breaths as you inhale and exhale. Keep all outside thoughts at bay. You will find it a bit challenging at first but as soon as you catch a thought, focus on your breathing again. Try taking deep breaths as you count to 10.
3. Tea. Drinking a hot cup of herbal tea and having a minute to yourself. Tea is filled with antioxidants and can help with digestion. It can also act as a bedtime ritual to help you feel less stressed.
4. Get outside into nature. Movement can help clear your head, but exercise can also increase endorphins, which helps reduce stress and makes you feel happier. Take a walk at your nearest park or green space. This will help you get in touch with nature and breathe in that much-needed fresh air and can even be a form of meditation. This is due to “involuntary attention” where you might be focusing on something, but you also have enough space to reflect and let your thoughts wander.
5. Disconnect. Put your technology aside and focus on your inner self. By doing this you are disconnecting from all distractions and focusing on expanding your positivity. When you disconnect your stress levels will start to decrease and you will feel more relaxed. Frequent computer and mobile use have been associated with increased stress, sleep deprivation and even depression according to a study from the University of Gothenburg. Taking breaks in between computer use, especially during work or school is essential, and if you find yourself constantly distracted by your phone, consider turning off notifications or the phone itself for a few hours to focus on your tasks.
You can even go further and have a digital detox. Take a day or even a week detached from your mobile devices. This can be a great way to ground yourself and focus on the moment.
6. Rest. Taking a quick 15-30 minute nap can be your restart button. It's understandable if you don't have the time for a short nap but sometimes can be worth it when utilized. If your body and mind don't get rest, your efforts to get things done will have to be doubled which will lead you to a fast burnout.
7. Sleep. Sleep is vital, yet humans often neglect to get a good night’s sleep. The latest TV series on Netflix, or the worry your job may bring, can cause our brains to overwork throughout the night. There are many health benefits to getting enough sleep, such as being more productive, feeling happier, and improving your mental health
8. Music. Some may find listening to music, especially classical music or instrumentals, particularly soothing. This has been shown to slow heart rate, decrease stress hormones and lower blood pressure, but can also be a great way to regain focus, especially when you need to complete a task.
Listening to your favourite music also floods your brain with dopamine, the happy hormone. These are only a few ways that can help you de-stress after continuously working hard and juggling responsibilities. Make sure you find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try new ways to help you manage stress.
9. Self-Care. Self-care routines are vital for a happy and healthy you! Setting time aside for a relaxing candle-lit bath can help you relax and unwind. Self-care doesn't have to be complex, it could be having your nails done, enjoying your favourite skincare routine or hydrating your face with a mask. My go-to self-care routine is using Viva's Collagen Hyaluronic Acid Mask and having a eucalyptus bath.