A Quick Guide to Relaxation

How many times has someone told you to, “Relax!”  And, your response is, “Are you kidding me?  I would if I could!”  It is not easy to find ease and calm in the midst of stress and anxiety.  But in today’s post, we would like to show you a few ways to find a few moments of ease, even in challenging times.  It is critical to be able to allow your mind and body to rest in order to build strength and resilience, as well find joy, even in the midst of challenges.

1. Know What Relaxes You. 
Everyone is different.  Know the difference between what actually relaxes you and what may distract you, but still causes you stress. Pay attention to how you feel when doing certain activities and make time for the activities that actually relax you and make you feel good. 


2. Prioritize Time for Relaxation. 
Self-care is critical to keep you mentally and physically healthy.  Prioritize time for rest and relaxation, for doing things that bring you ease and joy. When we are busy and stressed often the first thing that gets removed from our “to do” lists is the fun stuff be we think these things are not necessary. In fact. self-care and doing things that relax you are actually the most important items on your list because they help you find balance, energy and motivation to meet the challenges ahead.


3. Be Nice to Yourself.
We tend to be the hardest on ourselves. “I should do more.  I didn’t do that well.  I am not doing this right.”  And on, and on . . . The best gift you can give yourself is self-compassion. Try giving yourself a break and instead of the negative self-talk, how about some love and understanding (just like you would give a friend)?  Try reminding yourself, “This is really hard.  It’s OK to feel sad or angry. This too will pass.”  Meet yourself with more tenderness and love because you deserve it.


4. Relax Your Body. 
Our stress is deeply carried in our our bodies.  Even if you feel that you cannot quiet down your stressful thoughts. try focusing on your body. Find areas of the body that feel tight and tense.  Breathe into those areas and then on the exhale, gently let go of any tension and tightness you feel there. Feel your body soften and unwind.  The physical act of releasing tension from the body will all help your mind slow down and rest. 


5. Do Less. 
We are all adjusting to a new normal. Remind yourself of that.  This world has been hectic and chaotic and uncertain during a worldwide pandemic.  We do not need to return to all that we were doing, instead perhaps the best way forward is to recognize what really matters and what feels good for you.  Instead of filling your schedule with everything you think you should be doing, fill it with things you want to do and that are truly important. Doing less of what contributes to your stress and more of what fills you up is good for your body, mind and soul.



6. Take a Deep Belly Breath. 
This quickest and easiest way to relax is with a few deep breaths. A deep, mindful breath is one of the best ways to lower stress instantly  This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply. And, it’s free, always available to you, no one even has to know you are doing it, and it works! 

Try this quick breathing exercise for instant relaxation:
Place one had on your belly, just below your ribs. Take a slow, deep inhale through your nose. Notice how your belly pushed your hand out and away from your spine.  Keep breathing in until you fill your whole torso with air, feeling your belly, ribs and lungs expand. When you are filled with air, pause for a moment.  Then, slowly, let that air out through your nose. Notice how your belly moves in toward your spine.  Let all of that air out slowly as you feel your torso, lungs, ribs and belly contract.  Repeat three more times.  Then simply notice how you feel.