Ever find your mind racing with thoughts of what happened during the week or what could happen in the future? If you’ve been looking for ways to unwind because you’ve been struggling to relax, try these 7 simple tips to soothe your body and mind.
Lucky for us, breathing comes naturally so this is one of the easiest ways to unwind and the best to try first. When we’re anxious our breathing becomes short and fast – so simply focus on doing the opposite to relieve tension, reduce stress and re-energise. Find a quiet spot to settle into a relaxed position. Breathe in and out slowly and practice deep breathing for about 10 minutes. Focus on your breath, and when your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. This will slow your heart rate, calm your nerves and quiet your mind.
2. GET ACTIVE
Exercising regularly is a great way to blow off steam and also help you sleep better. Go for a run after work, take a stroll, work out, stretch, dance, or do yoga to release tension from the day and help you wind down. Avoid doing this just before going to sleep though, as physical activity can be stimulating.
To put it simply, practicing mediation is like taking a mental holiday. Although breathing is a form of meditation you can also practice visualisation, body scans or progressive muscle relaxation to reduce anxiety and racing thoughts.
Visualise yourself in a peaceful setting; like a tropical island paradise. See, hear and feel your surroundings. Scan your body from head to toe and locate the areas where you feel stress. Breathe deeply into these areas to relieve the tension or go through each muscle, tensing and relaxing each as you go along. If you struggle to meditate, try using an app such as Calm or Headspace.
I’ve found meditation to be one of my best ways to relax, but I struggle to do this on my own so I personally love using the Calm app.
4. WRITE IT DOWN
How are you feeling? What are you thankful for? Whether it’s journaling the events of the day, noting your general thoughts and worries, making a to-do list or coming up with creative ideas – it’s good to get it off your mind. Think about what’s making you anxious and what you’re going to do to change that. That way you can check these thoughts off as already dealt with so you aren’t worrying about them all night. Do this for about 10 to 15 minutes a day.
Whether it’s replying to messages, counting ‘likes’ or general FOMO – we’ve all fallen prey to the distractions of our digital devices. As hard as it may be to step away from phones and tablets, they may even be the root of your anxiety. Switch off your TV, close your social media apps. Whatever it is, it can wait.
Apart from being a general distraction, the lights from your TV, phone or tablet can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime and keep you awake instead of letting your brain shut down properly.
6. CALM YOUR SENSES
Focus on calming your senses to create a relaxing environment. If you can, the best way to do this is to go outside and get in touch with nature. Just go for a walk, smell the fresh air, listen to the birds and feel the warm sun on your face. You’ll already feel different just from these few precious minutes outside.
But what if it’s not possible to do this, or it’s night time, or it’s cold outside or… you’re just not a nature person? You can try these simple things to change your home surroundings to better calm your senses:
- Sight: Dim the lights or light some candles to calm your eyes.
- Smell: Aromatherapy is well known to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Some good essential oils to try are lavender, chamomile, sandalwood and rose. You can also try Sorbet’s Sleep Rescue range which has a fantastic aromatherapy pillow mist.
- Sound: Listen to some relaxing music such as nature sounds, or play some white noise to drown out any distracting sounds.
- Touch: Make your bed look and feel inviting with soft pillows and a calm colour scheme.
- Taste: Avoid caffeine before bed but try a decaffeinated herbal tea such as chamomile, jasmine or lavender; which are all considered natural relaxants. If you’d prefer a glass of wine, stick to those that contain melatonin in their grape skins, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. This is because melatonin promotes better sleep patterns.
7. KEEP A SLEEP ROUTINE
Along with keeping a regular sleep schedule, you should also give yourself 30 to 45 minutes to wind down before sleep. Create a sleep routine by doing the same thing every night before bed time, so that it becomes habit and your body will associate this habit with sleep.
Curling up with a good book, having a glass of wine or herbal tea can be an excellent way to help you relax during this time. Of course you can also enjoy a hot shower, or hot bath with epsom salts or essential oils.
OTHER WAYS TO UNWIND
These are just a few of the ways to unwind after a stressful day, but there are many, many others. It may be cooking, watching movies, doing crosswords, or getting your nails done. Getting some good RnR is vital to a healthy life, so find the thing that works for you!
How do you like to relax after a hard day at work? Have you tried any of the tips above? I’d love to know your thoughts, so please feel free to share them with me in the comments below 🙂
Words and photography by: Peaches