Our work and home lives seem to get busier and busier as the years roll by and too often we don't take the time to properly relax. However, in order to prevent stress and anxiety from affecting our health, a little time out is essential.
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While some find a hot bath or a walk in the countryside does the job, others struggle to shake off the stresses and strains of the day. If you haven't got time for a full meditation session or a tai chi class, here are some easy tips to help you chill out.
Be quiet, be comfortable
It might seem impossible but finding a quiet place where you can relax and where you won't be disturbed. Just as important is comfort so don the baggy jogging bottoms and find a comfy chair or cushion, or lie down either on the floor or the bed. If you are seated, allow your arms to lie comfortably on the arms of the chair and avoid crossing your legs. For those of you who prefer to lie down, rest your arms beside your body but a little bit away, with the palms facing upwards. Stretch out your legs and allow them to rest hip-width apart.
Deep breathing is the key to relaxation. In order to let those anxieties float away, focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take a long, slow breath in, then exhale slowly, counting from one to five. For some, visualising a calm, peaceful place will help those negative thoughts and anxieties to drift away, others may find it helps to visualise the stresses of the day physically floating away.
By gently tensing and then relaxing each part of your body, from head to toe, focusing on a feeling of warmth and heaviness, both your body and mind should respond by becoming calm and stress free.
Relaxing the muscles is a great way to relieve stress. Simple stretching techniques are all that is needed to release some of the tension that has built up over the course of the day.
For example, for the face, push the eyebrows together into a frown, hold for a few seconds, then relax. For the neck, tilt the head forwards with the chin pushed towards the chest, then slowly lift. Pull your shoulders up into a shrug, then relax down, breathing deeply throughout. Your limbs will also benefit from muscle relaxation - try stretching your arms away from your body as if reaching, then relax. Similarly stretch your legs out and away, pull them back in towards your body and then relax. With each of these exercises, the stretch should be held for a few seconds for maximum benefit and ideally repeated two or three times.
When you have finished deep breathing and stretching, stay still for a few minutes with your eyes closed and make the most of that warm, relaxed feeling. Get up slowly when you feel calm and at ease.
How do you relax? Let us know by leaving a comment below...