Tips to help you relax this august
We believe self-care includes removing the word ‘should’ out of our vocabularies. Many of us go through life telling ourselves that we ‘should be’ doing something or feel that needing a break means we are weak. We forget that we create our own expectations of ourselves, and thus can adapt how we feel about taking a break. Some find it easy, others not so much. But it is important to listen to our bodies, and minds, when they are telling us to slow down.
This August 15th, we wanted to celebrate relaxation day by asking students who found it particularly hard to relax to do some research, and experimentation. Below are the six tips we asked them to try…read on to find what these tips were, and read this blog to see how each suggestion lived up to the test!
- Breathing exercises
Completing deep breathing exercises on a regular basis will help our overall physical and mental wellbeing, as well as help in stressful situations. There are many free guided meditation apps, videos online and free courses that will teach you deep breathing and meditation, such as this one by the New Leaf Recovery and Wellbeing College.
- Warm baths
Warm baths can help relax your muscles and improve circulation. They can also help with pain and inflammation and reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety; all helping you to feel more relaxed. No tub? Try a steam shower, or wrap yourself in blankets and a hot water bottle.
- Soothing music
Music can contribute to relaxation by reducing stress and boosting the happy hormones, improving mood. Relaxing music genres include classical, soft-pop and soothing folk music. We like ‘calm radio, which includes sounds of nature and this playlist created by a music therapist to help reduce anxiety.
Writing can be relaxing as it forces us to slow down and enjoy the time for ourselves. It can help us reflect and gain clarity about what is troubling us; or, we might explore our creativity, which offers its own therapeutic practice; thus helping us relax in the process. You can explore writing for wellbeing more by joining this free course.
Even when we feel exhausted, exercise contributes to positive mental wellbeing as it reduces stress hormones and increases the release of endorphins, making us feel happier. For immediate relaxation, walking, gardening, yoga, tai-chi and other forms of gentle exercise can help. This blog written by one of our experts by experience introduces how qi-gong can contribute to improved mental health.
It might seem like a strange one, but food can have an effect on mood. For example, complex carbs contribute to serotonin, which calms the brain; whilst eating oranges can reduce stress hormones. Spinach, tuna, tea, pistachios, avocados, almonds, raw veggies and milk can also contribute to feeling more relaxed by helping us feel calmer, giving us more vitamins or breaking down the stress hormones.
Having done the research, now is the time to give these tips a go for ourselves. We will see you on the next post where we will tell you all about our experience.