Five simple ways to relax

A photo of Meera Phull, Mental Wellbeing Nurse at Bupa UK
Clinical Collaboration Lead, Bupa Group Clinical
11 December 2019
Next review due December 2022

With the ongoing demands of modern life, it can sometimes feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. There’s less time to relax and unwind, and when we do, we often feel guilty about it. Yet, research shows that taking time out to unwind is very important for our health and wellbeing.

When things feel particularly busy, it can help to start small so that relaxation doesn’t feel like another thing to add to your to-do list. In this article, I share five simple ways to relax that you can build into your day.

1. Walk your worries away

A short walk can be a great way to calm your thoughts. It can have a positive effect on your health and how you feel too. You can do it anytime and anywhere that suits you – on your lunch break, before you go to work, or perhaps in the evening. But, if you struggle to find the time to take a walk, try building it into another activity. For example, if you commute to work or go out somewhere, consider parking slightly further away than usual. Or get off the bus a stop early to build in a little walking time, movement and fresh air.

When you walk, try to let your mind relax. To help with this, you might like to try focusing on your senses as you walk. You may like to try noticing the sights as you walk – perhaps this is your surroundings, the colours you can see, or others around you. You could try focusing on the sounds and smells. Or focus on taste and see if are still be able to taste the coffee that you recently drank.

2. Get creative

You can be as creative as you like! You might like to start by simply letting your mind wander into a daydream. Try picking up a pen see what shapes and images you can make. Or you might like to draw, paint, sculpt, or play an instrument.

Taking part in arts and crafts activities has also been linked to stress reduction. There can be mental health benefits to knitting, model making, sewing, writing, art, colouring, and other forms of creativity.

3. Alone time

Finding time for yourself can sometimes feel difficult. If time is short, just take a few minutes to mentally check in with yourself. Try to also be in the moment (mindful) as you do simple everyday tasks. This can help turn them into something relaxing. For example, when you wash your hands, you could try taking a few breaths and really notice the feel, temperature, sound and sensation of the water. When you make a cup of tea, you might pay attention to changes in the temperature of your mug from when you first pick it up, to after you’ve poured the hot water in. Take a moment to watch the steam rise from your cup, and the colour of the tea change as it brews.

Time alone may provide a feeling of freedom in your own thoughts, and provide an opportunity to engage in activities that you’re interested in. When we have more time, the way we choose to spend this time alone will vary from person to person. Some people like to go outdoors for a walk, or exercise. Others may prefer to read or enjoy a long bath. It could be helpful to think about the things you enjoy doing and plan time for this.

4. Listen to music

For some people, listening to music can be a simple and helpful way to unwind. Tune into your favourite radio station, or listen to your favourite playlist on your commute. You might like to listen to music on your headphones at the gym, or play music at home whilst cooking, cleaning or winding down. Studies in certain groups of people show that listening to music can help to reduce anxiety and improve your mood.

5. Keep a diary

It can often feel helpful to write things down. When life is busy or we feel stressed, we may find that we focus more on negative things. Whilst it can be helpful to jot these things down and offload, it can also help to reflect on the positives. Maybe someone said or did something that made you laugh or smile. Maybe you saw something beautiful or inspiring, heard one of your favourite songs or ate one of your favourite foods. Maybe you achieved something you’ve been working towards, received a compliment or some positive feedback. It can be easy to forget the small things that give us joy. Keeping a record of these can help to remind us and provide nice memories to look back on.

Studies are also starting to show the benefits of gratitude. You might like to take some time out to note down three things that you have been grateful for each day. This can serve as a helpful reminder of the positives in our lives.

Other ways to unwind

If you want more ideas about how to unwind, find out more about mindfulness and the different ways it can help you to relax and maintain good mental wellbeing. This is especially important if you’re looking for ways to manage stress.

Even healthy people become unhealthy sometimes. Health insurance can help you get prompt access to the treatment and support you need to help you get back on the road to recovery. Learn more with our useful guide to understanding health insurance

A photo of Meera Phull, Mental Wellbeing Nurse at Bupa UK
Meera Phull
Clinical Collaboration Lead, Bupa Group Clinical

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