And relax …… here are some of our favourite ways of finding tranquillity, peace and relaxation.
When was the last time you really relaxed? Enjoyed a moment when your shoulders weren’t hunched up to your ears, when you weren’t scrolling through social media, or busy compiling ‘To do’ lists, responding to requests from others, or adding to your already long list of commitments?
Switching off the noise, taking time to relax, to be mindful, to daydream, and to nurture yourself has never been more important than it is currently.
Give yourself permission
You probably remember the airplane message about looking after yourself first before you can help others, but it is so true in our daily lives. It is very easy to neglect to look after yourself; even the most seemingly resilient people can be guilty of a lack of self-care.
Sometimes in life, we just need to stop and reset our compass and find our true direction. Finding joy in the little things, cooking, gardening, and spending time with those you love.
Here we share some ways of bringing tranquillity, peace and relaxing.
Whatever role we have in life, there are so many expectations placed on us, finding time to escape from this can be difficult to achieve; partly because of our own sense of responsibility, but also because of the needs of others.
This is why it’s really important to try and take as many opportunities to hit the pause button, if only for a few moments.
Being really present for even just one moment can be surprisingly difficult, our minds are so often full of other things, plus there are so many noisy interruptions; slowing down enough to even start to be present can take some practice.
But, when you do have those moments, treasure them, whether first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or even moments during the day, take time to be silent. Take time to learn how to control your breathing and you may want to find places where you can practice meditation, yoga, or other thoughtful practices. You may find holding a stone, or crystal can help with this process.
Cherish this time, try to find these moments; however fleeting, to escape from day-to-day chores and work tasks to just enjoy being ‘in the moment.’
If you can, allow yourself some extra time at the start of a day just to try and start the day positively, getting prepared the night before can mean that you don’t start the day already feeling stressed.
There is so much research about the importance of sleep; one of the side effects of the pandemic was the unusual sleep patterns that so many adults and children developed. The recent high temperatures haven’t helped either with our ability to get a good night’s rest.
Tiredness can also impact on our ability to be motivated to do anything different. It’s so easy to get into the habit of the wrong sleep patterns, particularly if we are continually waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle. Often we don’t realise that this is reason why we can’t function properly.
As a first step try and regulate your sleeping patterns. Do everything you can to try and get the right amount of sleep, create bedtime routines to help you sleep, and awake naturally.
An ideal average seems to be that most adults need 6-7 hours sleep per night, but you will read about many people who have famously survived on much less, but every person has different needs, experiment until you find what really works for you and then try and stick to it.
There is a body of evidence that suggests having a regular pattern of sleep is really important and that those who miss sleep during the week and have a long lie-in at the weekend are potentially making themselves feel worse on a Monday morning. It is better to try and set a pattern and stick to it even at the weekends.
Having a routine of relaxation before bed can help, but also getting up at the same time in the morning, means that it may be easier to sleep at night.
Seek professional help
Sometimes the reason we cannot sleep is because we are worried, and this can be for a myriad of reasons. During the pandemic, many people found they couldn’t get GP appointments, or put off going for check-ups or tests. You may feel you are suffering from Long Covid, but understanding the symptoms can help with managing it.
In the current climate, many are anxious about the cost of living, or mounting debt, our children may be concerned about their mental health, or exam results. Whatever the reason, it is important to seek professional help if you need it, it may mean waiting on the phone, or booking appointments with a waiting list, but if you can start the process it can bring immense relief eventually.
As above, exercise can help with getting to sleep, whether you are exercising at home, or going out for a daily exercise, many people have found having a routine of exercise helps with their energy levels and sleep patterns. It’s also important for children and young people, and even if you struggle with movement there are many examples of activities, from exercising in a chair to gentle yoga, which is safe for people unable to fully exercise.
Music & Dancing
If you are a music lover, it can be so inspiring to create your own playlist, music can be uplifting when you need energy, it can relax and soothe you at the end of the day, or create an ambience when you are being creative.
By playing your favourite music tracks it can bring back happy memories, take time to pause and remember. There is also some evidence to show that it can also help people living with dementia.
There are many sources of concerts, playlists, or by playing your own collection, which can bring music into your life, and dancing is a wonderful way of exercising.
We have been told how important fresh air is, but as well as going outside for exercise, bringing fresh air into our homes is equally important. Opening windows, not only helps with our health, but also reduces condensation, which in turn can lead to the growth of mould and other problems.
During intense heat, the advice is to keep curtains or blackouts closed, and only to open windows early in the morning or in the evening to keep the heat out, but once it gets cooler and particularly on breezy days it can be helpful to refresh the air in our homes.
Find your energy source
Try and find your own energy source and then revisit it when you need a boost. We all need to re-charge at different times in our life. It may be after a particularly stressful time or it may be as a result of working too hard, or when we are feeling depressed. Sometimes we have even forgotten what it feels like to feel truly energised. Then you revisit or find something that really energises you and your whole body goes ‘Ah, I remember this feeling.’ You feel happy, enthusiastic, and euphoric with a spring in your step and suddenly anything seems possible.
If you could bottle this you would, the magic elixir that makes all things seem possible. When you find this source remember it, capture it, photograph it, keep it close by you for the dark dull days. Remember how you feel, and if you can, video it too, so that you can listen to the sounds associated with the energy. So much of our lives can be draining. Finding your energy source is different from something that relaxes you.
Remember the joy of playing
Forget the ‘To do’ lists; the unfinished work, the deadlines, and even if you have no children, enjoy the freedom of playing.
Doing something different like reading a book, watching a box-set, completing a jigsaw, a crossword, playing games as a family, becoming absorbed in an activity, and not watching too many news broadcasts, can all help in alleviating stress and anxiety.
Connect with your senses
Using our senses is a powerful tool; each of our senses has the power to connect us to a memory and a hope for the future.
Think about baking a cake, the sensation of mixing the ingredients, tasting your favourite foods, watching the sky change during a beautiful sunset, hearing the birds sing in a dawn chorus, feeling the sensation of waves lapping on your toes, the luxury of a bath, with gentle music playing in the background. Or to escape the heat immerse yourself in a cooling shower, feeling the water wash the tension away.
The most important thing to remember is that being creative is not about perfection. Enjoying being creative for its own sake does not have to mean creating a masterpiece, there are so many ways to be creative, many crafts can be started with very little investment, e.g. drawing, watercolour painting, air-dried clay, knitting, crochet, embroidery, making friendship bracelets, sewing projects, not to mention being creative with cooking, gardening, or re-designing our home.
If you are looking for inspiration, see our previous feature:
It is also something that you can enjoy as a family, it often only takes a few items to encourage their creativity, their natural enthusiasm will often carry them forward.
Escaping to our own open outside space, however small, is good for our health and general well-being. Even if you only have a balcony, or a window box you can experience the fun of creating microgreens, growing flowers, or nurturing a house plant.
You may be reluctant to start if you have never grown anything before, but a love of gardening can start with the simplest of things, and with the most basic of materials, e.g. a bag of potting compost, some seeds and some containers to plant them in.
This is also something that you can share with your children, giving them the opportunity to create their own plots, or miniature gardens.
Creating wildflower areas can also attract wildlife and birds, listening to the dawn and evening chorus is both uplifting and relaxing.
Planning nourishing meals can really help sustain you, everyone loves comfort food, and some of the simplest recipes can be the most comforting. However it’s also important that they are nutritious, if you enjoy cooking, or experimenting with recipes this can be a wonderful way to relax and you have the bonus of something delicious to eat afterwards.
We still haven’t quite returned to the pattern of holidaying pre-pandemic, but planning an escape can provide an element of hope.
Visit websites or contact your chosen venue, and see what is available. There are many webcams available in different locations, which can bring daily uplifting images.
As well as travelling abroad, there are so many beautiful places in this country to enjoy. Also think about visiting areas that are away from the more popular tourist destinations. We have miles and miles of coastline and beautiful countryside, often within easy reach, don’t spend all your time in a car, explore your local areas instead.
Relaxation and Creating Special Moments
Many of us have adapted our homes to provide home office space and it is so easy to forget that our homes are meant to be our sanctuary, a place to relax and recuperate.
If you can’t get away think about incorporating some of the indulgences that you love when you are on holiday.
Make your bed with new or fresh bed linen, eat your favourite foods, plan breakfast, lunch and dinner meals like you would if you were away. Book a meal at a new, or favourite restaurant.
Run a bath with luxurious products, turn off technology, come off social media, plan a day just for you. Put on a favourite film, or look at photographs, videos, of your favourite places, play relaxing music.
Whether you plan an indulgent evening, or weekend for yourself, your partner, or your family, try and create times away from the everyday worry and stresses. Often it is the impromptu, unexpected treats that can bring the most joy.
Never underestimate the power of laughter, it can help you relax, it is a great stress reliever, and can release tensions throughout our bodies, that we may not even be aware of. Seek out the people who are the happiest, who bring a smile to your face, and who you know always makes you feel better.
Gratitude and Giving Back
We know that the opportunity to do any of the above can be very easily overtaken by the reality of day-to-day life. In our darkest moments it can seem impossible to find a way out, but sometimes helping others, seeking help, sharing problems, and spending time with loved ones can make those moments even more special if we really take the time to enjoy them.
To nurture means to help or develop when growing, and this list is designed to do exactly that to help you relax and take time out.
This is only a suggested list, think about the things that you really enjoy doing and create your own list. You can also write them out on cards and select from them at random.
- Bake classic French madelines (see recipe)
- Make a foccacia loaf (see recipe)
- Buy or make your favourite sweet or savoury treat and sit and savour every mouthful.
- Have a relaxing bath, an invigorating shower, or going for a swim, water can be used in so many ways, including drinking enough water each day.
- Use moisture cream and take time to really massage your hands, until you feel the tension drain away, do the same with your face, feet etc.
- Call a friend and arrange to meet for a walk, a meal, or a drink.
- Go for a walk to your favourite place using all your senses as you walk.
- Call a family member, or friend who you know would love to hear from you.
- Gather up your favourite crafting materials and start a project.
- Pick from your garden, or buy a bunch of flowers, take your time enjoying arranging them.
- Buy a packet of seeds and some compost, and start a window-sill or balcony mini-garden.
- Plant some herbs for their aromatic aroma and to use in cooking.
- Spend time browsing in charity shops, looking for things that bring back childhood memories.
- Buy a small indulgent gift for yourself or a loved one.
- Create a bubble mix and go outside and blow bubbles, see how high they go.
- Watch a video and try some beginner’s yoga, or simple ballet steps.
- Do a crossword puzzle.
- Start a jigsaw and find somewhere to leave it out so that you can keep coming back to it.
- Take a nap, try 20 minutes, 45 minutes, or 90 minutes, set an alarm if you need to be somewhere.
- Meditate, practise breathing mindfully.
You may also want to consider these helpful ways of relaxing:
Both items available from The Body Shop
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