How to Relax and be Peaceful
Modern life is stressful and while some people work better under a small amount of stress, living in a state of constant stress can lead to serious medical conditions.
According to the Mental Health Foundation 13.3 million working days are lost every year because of stress, depression and anxiety. Stress can cause headaches, stomach pain, sleep issues, illness and depression. So how do you keep stress and anxiety under control? Read our tips on how to relax and give yourself a more of a peaceful life...
If you can't avoid stress, then at least you can try to create a time and a place when you can get away from it. You could call this "stress offsetting" and you could start by consciously building relaxation into your routine. Have a set time everyday and make it one of your goals to do something you find relaxing and you enjoy. Everyone finds different activities relaxing, from reading a book, to having a nice hot bath, to spending time with your children, to exercising.
5 simple steps to help you relax:
1. Create a peaceful haven in your home: Low level lighting, comfy cushions, scents, chilled out music, throws and pictures can help to create a peaceful ambience in your home; it may sound obvious to some of us but if you’re one of these people who just can’t sit still you may not have thought of this or had the time to do anything about it.
2. Create a relaxing ritual for yourself: Before you go to bed or first thing in the morning, have a regular routine to calm your inner self; it could be any of the ideas listed here or could also include things like writing a journal, making a list of your day's achievements or what you are grateful for, turning off the TV, your mobile phone… Doing something beneficial for yourself on a regular basis can also help you to feel empowered. You are creating "me time" by putting yourself first for a change!
3. Focus on relaxed, deep breathing: Try to aim to slow your breathing down and inhale deeply for about seven seconds and then exhale for about 11 seconds. Exhaling is more important for relaxation than inhaling as it helps slow down your heart rate. Try and concentrate on your breathing by focusing on the particular aspects of the breath (e.g. the feeling of the air going in your nose, filling your lungs and expanding your belly). If any intruding thoughts pop into your head that distract you, simply return your attention to the breathing. When practiced over time, this exercise is the basis of meditation, a proven method to help relax and increase wellbeing.
4. Take up yoga: Yoga is well known to be good for relaxing. It helps loosen your body and relieves both physical and mental tension. On top of helping you wind down, yoga can also help you get fit, improve your flexibility and improve your balance.
5. Take time to laugh: It is no joke that laughing makes us feel better! Laughing helps the body and your muscles relax, as well as having other physiological benefits. It works by altering your mood, giving you a very different view of the world around you. Laughter helps you separate the real problems from all those distractions and demands that, when seen through a good laugh, can simply wait until tomorrow.
What to avoid
There really are some activities and situations that you should try to avoid and some substances that are stress-inducing. If you know that drinking coffee in the evening will keep you awake all night, or that 2 glasses of white wine will prevent you from having a good night sleep then try to avoid them. Alcohol is a depressant and while taken in moderation it can make you feel relaxed, it is difficult to control how much to drink, especially at a time when you are already stressed and anxious. Smoking works in similar ways on your brain, but in addition it's even more addictive and will reduce the amount of oxygen to your brain (and the rest of your body) so that instead of feeling relaxed you end up just feeling tired.
Stress can be managed and it's easier to deal with stress early on instead of waiting for it to become a mental health issues. It all starts with one small a laugh, or a nice hot bath or five minutes of focussing your mind away from the problems. So why not start today?
If you want to learn more you may also want to read our article Coping with Stress and Anxiety