Isn’t it funny how we need to actively think about ways to relax? With life often moving at what can seem a gazillion miles an hour sometimes, relaxing is weirdly a thing we often forget to do. Or maybe the type of relaxing we think is helping – actually isn’t?
Now it’s no surprise that everyone has their own way of relaxing – it could be going for a walk, painting, sleeping or getting crafty in the kitchen. But if you’re anything like me, often it can take a lot to ease my relaxing woes. It’s only been recently that I feel I’ve become comfortable with the things and activities that relax me – and I know the type of stuff that actually stresses me out.
To write this blog, I moved away from my table to try and relax and focus. Yes, I may have the TV on in the background with a programme about saving lives at sea (not exactly relaxing or calming) – but I’m in my fluffy pyjamas, with several candles flickering away and I’ve got a hot chocolate on the way. If this isn’t the right setting to write a post about helping any relaxing woes, I’m not sure what is – okay… maybe sitting on a beach with a cocktail wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I am in Manchester after all.
Yes, I said it – breathing. It’s quite a funny thing but it’s easy to forget to breathe. Quite often we may hold our breath for a while when we feel tense or anxious, which in turn slows-down our breathing. It took me a while to realise I actually do this – especially when I’m either feeling anxious or concentrating.
To help, I’ve begun taking slow and deep breaths. I count to four, inhale and then exhale. It really helps as it makes my mind and body slow down while focusing on the simple act of breathing! While it is something I need to remember to do throughout the day, I find it really helps. If you’re looking for a simple breathing exercise for stress check out the NHS tips on how to do so.
Cook something delish’
Cooking may not be everyone’s idea when it comes to relaxing – but hear me out. Even if you just make yourself a really great sandwich or your favourite comfort food (I’m talking creamy mash, beans and sausages), preparing food is a great way to feel good whilst doing something.
And while there may be days when all you want is a big, greasy take-away, cooking something yourself will not only be healthier, it will give you a nice sense of achievement too.
Spend time with a loved one
There may be days when all you want is some peace and quiet spent alone. But it’s always great to spend time with a loved one even if its time spent together in complete silence or when you can’t stop talking or laughing with one another.
Factor in time to either spend it lazing on the couch with a bad movie or go out and do something you wouldn’t usually do. Quite often my favourite moments of relaxing are when Bogdan and I chill on the sofa under blankets, with candles and my pineapple lamp glowing. Got to love those pineapples, eh? If you feel like getting some fresh air, take your four-legged friend with you to help them feel happy and relaxed too.
Have a lazy day
Following on from the last point, it’s okay to have a lazy day. We try and aim for one once a week just so it gives us time to re-charge. I also try to incorporate lazy evenings into our week where we may get a cheeky take-out and once again light up the candles.
I love it when the time goes slowly which weirdly makes me feel like it’s been a productive lazy day – if such a think existed, I think I’d be a pro at it.
Being mindful can be quite a tricky thing to get your head around – it’s taken me time and to be honest, I’m still trying to get used to it. Essentially it is like a state of meditation where you focus on the senses, breathe and think about your thoughts in the present moment.
There are loads of online resources including some from Mindful which give a good introduction to the practice. If you fancy trying a mindfulness class, have a quick google for one. But if you’re based in Manchester, check out the Self-Help Service for more information.
Channel your inner Beyonce
Despite complaining about my super noisy neighbours, once I’m in the shower I love singing along. In the past month my playlist of choice has been Latin-supernova Juanes La Camisa Negra, Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire and a bit of Oasis too. A rather eclectic taste, but listening and singing along to my heart’s content makes me feel so happy and relaxed. Search for your favourite songs, hit play and get your Mariah Carey on!
Sink into a bath
Granted, the bath tub in our spare bathroom has a bag of washing in (a not-so-practical-storage-facility). This does not make it a particularly relaxing place to be – in fact it has the adverse affect! Instead, I love it when we go away and there’s a bathtub in our room where I can sink into the steaming and bubble-filled water.
While we were in Lagos there was a huge bathtub in the bedroom where I enjoyed several baths in which made me feel like I was going to melt – but oh my word, it was so worth it. I used lots of lovely treatments and felt so relaxed it was unbelievable.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bath in your home, why not run yourself one and fill it with bubblebath this evening? I already know whenever I buy a house, a freestanding bath tub will be one of its most important and need-to-have items – along with the entire Lush bathbomb collection.
Make yourself feel great
Most of the time, we are too concerned about making others happy and as a result we tend to forget about ourselves. Treat yourself to something you really enjoy and take some time to care for you – whether that’s by going for a massage, giving yourself a facial or playing a game.
Every Sunday, I always exfoliate my skin and it makes me feel so refreshed and relaxed for the week ahead. If exfoliating or massages aren’t your thing – why not workout for 30 minutes? The exercise will boost your body and mind with endorphins making you feel like you’ve achieved something great.
Discover your happy place
Over the past year, I’ve struggled to discover my happy place. While we can’t always go away on holiday to find some peace and quiet, there are certain things which help me to feel at ease in my happy place at home – whether that’s chilling on the couch, watching YouTube while cooking or going for a walk with Max.
Even if it takes me away for a few moments from my anxiety, I find it so worth it. And I think everyone needs to discover their happy place and make sure they visit it as often as they need to – whether that’s near or far!