Finding time to fully relax can be problematic if we’re busy, overwhelmed or feel as if we don’t need/deserve this type of self-care. Make no mistake; being able to unwind — even if it’s for a handful of minutes at a time — can be an effective way to avoid burnout or show ourselves a little self-compassion.
All of us need moments throughout the day that help hit the reset button or provide time to refresh our mind and emotions. We should be intentional about creating an ethos of health and wellness for ourselves that isn’t based on productivity or a perception of worthiness — rest does not need to be earned.
Stress, anxiety, depression or just the day-to-day bustle of a busy life can make it difficult to concentrate on relaxation techniques that support feeling calm and more at ease. Generating opportunities to compose ourselves or soothe any physical/mental strain can seem like a pointless task; most notably if we buy into the idea that personal care can be set aside — periodically, external factors will make that necessary, but it catches up with us eventually. In my experience, the time to focus on all this is precisely when we think we can keep going without it. Scheduling relaxation activities as part of a broader self-care routine isn’t selfish or superfluous; we should utilize them even when we’re doing well.
Doing something that alleviates or softens emotional tiredness, physical and mental tension or general stresses and pressure is essential to our well-being; it’s how we cultivate and encourage healthy habits within our daily lives. The intended goal of being able to care for ourselves isn’t about implementing something perfectly; every so often we have to eke out whatever self-support we can muster — it’s about finding what works for our own unique needs. Showing up for ourselves will look different each day; it’s worth having a range of relaxation techniques and activities to make use of.
Ideally, we would all possess the capacity to regularly prioritize the time and space required for restorative self-care; however, the reality for many of us is that this isn’t always possible. Grabbing moments whenever we can (sometimes haphazardly) is about as good as it gets — and that’s okay, it’s more beneficial than forgoing it altogether. If you’re looking for 10 minute relaxation activities that can boost your body, lessen tension or manifest some inner peace, try out these ideas …
- sit and listen to some Brown noise (preferably through headphones); the lower and deeper tones within this sound spectrum have been stripped of high-frequency notes and are smoother compared to those found in white or pink noise — YouTube has some great examples
- have some fun focusing on your breathing by blowing large bubbles — use store bought bubble bottles that come with a wand to enjoy a few minutes of deep breathing (in through your nose, out through your mouth)
- practice the box breathing technique; inhale through your nose for a slow count of 4 seconds — concentrate on how your lungs fill with air — then hold your breath for 4 more seconds before exhaling slowly through your mouth (also for a count of 4 seconds)
- take time out of your day to sit quietly and drink some caffeine-free green tea; a natural source of theanine (an amino acid) that helps soothe the effects of stress
- spend some time sitting/reading next to an aromatherapy diffuser using lavender essential oil; known for many benefits, including relaxation and anxiety fighting properties, lavender is the queen of calm
- take a 5-10 minute break to read or listen to some music
- focus on self-pleasure; masturbating relieves stress and promotes a feeling of well-being — if safe and appropriate to do so, it can be a great way to relax
- take 10 minutes to listen to some guided meditation that will help you focus on relaxing your mind and body
- treat yourself to a quick foot rolling massage that not only loosens and relaxes the muscles and ligaments in your arch but also works as a general stress reliever; try it out by sitting on the edge of a chair and placing a tennis ball under your toes then rolling it to your heel — apply pressure and repeat as necessary
- do some simple 10 minute stretches (seated, lying down or standing) that releases tension from your muscles
- allow your mind to find some order by organizing/sorting one small area of your room or home (pick a drawer or cupboard, for example) — decluttering not only makes things look tidy, it can improve your mood by helping to combat stress and anxiety
- discover a brain calming repetitive activity that’s as easy to do as it is gratifying — knitting, crochet, adult colouring books, paint by numbers, puzzles, walking, etc.; anything that can focus attention without requiring too much mental acuity
Relaxation techniques and activities that help combat stress often lower blood pressure and curtail the production of stress hormones; leading to a potential decrease in occurrences of fatigue, anger and/or frustration while generally improving focus and mood. Providing an opportunity to feel more at ease is never a waste of our time or effort; it’s worth establishing this as a priority each day (if we can) or at least allowing it to become a focus during times of increased exhaustion and/or worry.
To ensure that incorporating relaxation into our self-care routine is successful, we should prioritise identifying what specifically works for us. Accessibility requirements, timing or even personal preference mean that facilitating pockets of tranquility can be as individual as we are. Equally important is advocating for ourselves when we need support finding time/space to unwind; if applicable and appropriate, asking someone to take over our responsibilities for 10 minutes so we can focus on de-stressing is valid and necessary.
Tension, tiredness, stress or anxiety builds up when we don’t adequately address it; leaving us stuck in a cycle of feeling more burdened and rundown the longer it continues. This is your reminder to dedicate a few minutes each day (or as much as you need) to practice some relaxation techniques.
What is your favourite, go-to relaxation activity? Have you taken time today to rest, refresh and relax?
National Relaxation Day (U.S.) August 15th, 2022 – National Today