I’ve always had a hard time relaxing. My mind thinks I should be doing something. The trouble with ‘should’ is it’s an expectation. But we need to check with ourselves and ask if that’s the truth. The more opportunities you give yourself a chance to relax, the more you can recharge.
When our bodies stay in a state of doing our nervous system feels it. It’s like a hamster going in its wheel all day long with no breaks. Have you ever watched your pet cat or dog? They naturally go about their day sleeping, eating, cleaning, and playing. We, as humans, have the ability to have conscious thoughts. No other creature on Earth does! So, how do we recharge? There are a couple of ways!
First, seek out mindless activities.
I love coloring. Looking at the designs and choosing the colors puts my mind at ease. This allows your nervous system to relax. You’ll find your breathing begin to slow down. You won’t mind sitting still. The key is not putting a time limit on it. I used to say “I’m going to read one chapter” or I’ll knit 5 rows. That limits how long you’ll do it and then your mind is thinking how many more pages? How long does this row take me?
Some other mindless options include going on a walk, lying in a hammock, or sitting on your front porch or in a rocking chair. It’s about welcoming the stillness and being open to it. Have you ever gone on vacation and felt the desire to sit and do nothing? Do you ever notice how relaxed you feel after the vacation? Then when you get through the front door the thoughts return of what you’re going to do next. If you keep getting back to that vacation feeling, you’ll ease your mind and body.
Secondly, ask yourself what can you let go of?
Think about your day and ask yourself if you’re doing extra things. Do these things make you tired or work you up? What can you stop doing? For example, when I can’t sit still I start organizing things. Our house isn’t a mess and I’m an organized person. What I’m actually doing is reorganizing things because I can’t sit still. When this happens I put on some music and sing and dance. Dance like no one’s watching and sing like no one’s listening! This helps let go of thoughts and feelings inside your body. At first it can feel like I’m trying to dance perfectly and then I just go wild!
There are other times when my body craves movement. At those moments I go outside and throw the football or frisbee with Mike. Other times I do Pilates. There’s nothing better than moving and being in the present moment. Honestly, it’s too damn difficult to create a grocery list and do Pilates. One of them will suffer if you try and that’s a recipe for disaster! The breathing during Pilates calms your nervous system. Yes, even while exercising you will feel calm!
Breathing is another way to relax and feel calm.
There are many methods you can try. At times when I’ve felt anxious, someone has said take deep breaths. But how? Try this: breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds and out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Do that 5 times. Another option is breathing in the nose for 4 seconds, hold for 8 seconds, and exhale out the mouth for 12 seconds. You’ll feel relaxed after doing 5 breaths that way too! Take it one step further and if you have pain or tension in your body, focus on releasing that pain as you exhale. Our mind and bodies work hand in hand or foot in foot. When you have tension in your mind, it’s present in your body too. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between a real image and an imaginary one.
Lastly, try meditating!
The first time I went to a meditation class it was an hour long and broken up into short ten minute meditations. The idea of meditating for one hour sounded scary but I went and was relieved to have the short ones! Meditation puts the focus on your internal feelings. I recommend you start with a short 5-10 minute guided meditation. Insight Timer is my favorite app for meditations. There’s no need to be perfect, you can move, scratch an itch, pause and start again! Give yourself grace to try and try again. I meditate each morning before I start my daily routine for about 10 minutes. Since starting it, I find my mornings to be slow and intentional. It sets my day to feel relaxed and less rushed.
If you have thoughts consuming your head when trying to relax, say them out loud! Tell your spouse, text your friend, or say it to the room. Your head becomes clear and you are present in the moment. Thoughts of tomorrow and yesterday take away from today. The more you take the time to be present and focus on one thing, the more relaxed you feel.
Here are a couple more ways I love to relax:
- Hugs- hug someone you love for 20 seconds, lean in and embrace it
- Take a bubble bath! Put on some music and enjoy!
- Get a massage
- Take a nap! We may be adults but that doesn’t mean naps are bad. Enjoy it!
- Put on some stress away oil. The oil has vanilla and instantly relaxes me.
- Cook or bake, I go for baking and take my time with it.
- Have tea with a friend (virtually or in person)
- Start a quiet time each day, no phones or tv. I usually do this on the weekend and sit with my coffee and read inside or outside.
- Relax your psoas.
Remember: relaxing allows your mind and body to recharge. This prevents you from burn out and disease. If the body works overtime all the time, it’ll run on fumes and be more likely to crash.
Which one of these options will you try?