If you have trouble relaxing, here are 5 easy tips that may help you learn how to relax, brought to you by experienced complementary therapist, Debbie Woodhouse.
We all know that we need to do it, but we don’t always manage to make it happen. Work, kids, schedules, house hold chores, everything that we think we need to ‘get done’ can start to build up around us and take over our lives, leaving us little or no time to slow down and make a space that’s just for us. And we need to make that space, because too much stress really is bad for us. Did you know that in 2011/12, work-related stress alone caused the loss of 10.4 million working days? (www.hse.gov.uk/statistics).
That’s a lot of people, spending a lot of time, ill.
So learn how to relax, you know you need to….
…and it’s really not that hard if you put your mind to it. The fact that you are reading this, means that you are already part way there, because you recognise the fact that you need to relax and would like to do something about it!
Ok, so you may have to accept the fact that the house is going to look like a toy explosion has just gone off, or the garden is going to look like the African savannah for a few days, but does that really matter? Let a few things look after themselves every once in a while, so you can look after yourself!
Keep it simple to make it work
If you keep the changes you make simple, you will be more likely to stick to them and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to make a few changes that really make a difference:
Laugh (told you it was simple!) – Believe it or not, laughter has a number of health benefits as it increases the immune system’s B-cells, T-cells and Gama-interferon (a disease fighting protein). Laughter also gives your diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a work out, and researchers now estimate that laughing 100 times is like spending 10 minutes on the rowing machine, and I know which I’d rather do! If you don’t have something to laugh about, pretend laugh for about 10 seconds, and often real laughter takes off!
Get physical – so, as you can’t really spend your whole time laughing, a little light exercise is great for helping you to relax. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym or run for miles either (unless you want to, of course), as a brisk brief walk, or a yoga class is enough to make a difference. Exercise is good for you mentally, as well as physically, as it releases endorphins, chemicals which give you a natural ‘feel good’ factor, helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Learn to prioritise – do you really need to clean the bathroom now? Is it essential that you make those phone calls today? We have all become so busy at being busy that sometimes we just don’t know when to stop. Pick a day, at least once a week, where, at a specific time, you stop. Whatever it is you were busy doing, just stop. Regardless. Of everything. And then spend some time doing something you enjoy – playing with the kids, relaxing in a bubble bath, reading a good book – whatever it is, make sure you are doing it only because you really want to and because it makes you feel happy 🙂
Breathe – I know what you’re thinking – ‘clearly, I already do that!’ But do you really? I mean, you obviously take in enough air to keep a body ticking over, but do you really breathe? Breathing correctly, even taking a few slow, deep breaths, can make you start to feel more relaxed, because its how you breathe when you are relaxed – it activates your body’s ‘relaxation response’. Breathing techniques are taught as part of Tai Chi and Qigong, but there are some breathing exercises that you can easily put in to practice at home too. Try some simple belly breathing – its really easy, definitely relaxing and great for the times when you are feeling a little stressed:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
- Repeat points 3 and 4 another 3 to 10 times, and take your time with each breath
Bet you feel more chilled already…..
Massage – research by an Australian hospital found that just 15 minutes of weekly massage had a positive effect on the stress levels of its nurses. Do you really need to ask why? Ok, so those endorphins that we mentioned earlier pop back in to the picture here, with every form of massage releasing a whole bundle of them, allowing them to work their magic, making us feel good. Time spent enjoying a massage is also time spent ‘switching off’ from all that other stuff that normally controls our daily lives, which in itself will help lead to a sense of relaxation. If you don’t like the idea of massage, try and find a body therapy that does appeal to you. Believe me, it really does help!
So, there you have it – 5 things that you can do to start learning how to relax. And they are so simple that you’ve really got no excuses not to give them a go! To find out more about relaxation at the Orange Grove Clinic, contact Reception on 01603 631 900, email [email protected] or go to our contact page.