How to relax: five simple ideas

Registered Nurse and Mindfulness Expert at Bupa UK
23 October 2017

With the holiday season behind us and colder months arriving, it would be easy to feel tense. But how about trying to keep up that easy-going summer spirit instead?

Now that might sound like a challenge; especially if you recently returned to work after a break, or are rushed off your feet with family life. Some ways of unwinding, though, can be squeezed into even the busiest of routines. I want to focus on these quick fixes.

There are lots of ways of avoiding burnout from everyday life, but I think these five can work particularly well. They’re simple, totally free and open to everyone.

An image of crossed feet in the grass

1. Walk your worries away

A short walk around the block can be a great way to calm your thoughts. You can do it anytime and anywhere: on your lunch break, before you go to work, or perhaps in the evening after you’ve had dinner.

When you walk, try not to think too hard about any one thing. Just let your mind relax. There’s evidence that walking and being outdoors can have a really positive effect on how you feel.

It might help your mind to relax if you focus on your senses as you walk. Perhaps notice the sights, sounds and smells as you walk. Think about the feeling of your feet on the ground or the breeze on your skin. We have a mindful walking meditation podcast that you may like to listen to.

2. Be creative

This doesn’t necessarily mean rummaging through your draw for some PVA glue and sequins, although it could do. It can also mean being creative by allowing your mind to wander and daydream. I think of it as a mini-mental break. Think of something happy, whatever this means to you.

Making art has been linked to stress reduction. There can be mental health benefits to knitting, crochet, sewing, writing, art and even colouring, among many other forms of creativity.

3. Spend time by yourself

When you’re continually on the go, finding time for yourself can be difficult. You don’t need to spend lots of time alone, but taking a few minutes to mentally check in with yourself can be healthy. Rest your elbows on the window ledge and take five minutes to watch the world go by (or at least the neighbour’s cat).

There are other ways to make the most of moments when you’re on your own. For example, when you’re next brushing your teeth, let yourself get lost in the repetitive motion of brushing for a couple of minutes. When you’re done, wash your face with cool water. Being mindful as you do simple everyday tasks like these can turn them into something relaxing.

If you have a bit more time, why not run a bath. Enjoying the solitude as you soak can be a good contrast to the fast pace of modern life.

4. Listen to music

Listening to music is a simple way to help you unwind. This could be on your headphones when you’re commuting, or out loud on the radio in the kitchen when you’re preparing meals. Studies in certain groups of people show that listening to music may help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

5. Keep a gratitude diary

Jot down what you did each day in a diary or notebook. Think not only about the physical things, but also about the things people said or did that might have put a smile on your face. Did something make you laugh today? When you’re getting into bed open your diary on a random page, remind yourself of the date and take a read through. When things are busy, it’s easy to forget the small things that give you joy. So keep a record, and flick back for a little lift.

Studies are starting to show the benefits of gratitude. Set your day up by jotting down three things that you are grateful for and before you go to bed, write three more. Reflect back when you need to unwind, reminding yourself of all of the positives in your life.

If you want more ideas about how to unwind, why not take a look at these blogs about relaxation?

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.

Jane Bozier
Registered Nurse and Mindfulness Expert at Bupa UK

What would you like us to write about?


Health information

At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. We believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and care.