This post was written by an external contributor. Lucy Skoulding has ten top tips to relax, particularly for those who find it hard to switch off.
I personally find it difficult to relax. Not because I don’t want to, but because I place a lot of pressure on myself, which can sometimes translate into unwarranted feelings that I should always be busy.
To tackle this, I’ve realised that relaxation can be found even when you feel at your busiest and it’s important for everyone to have time for it. Workaholics are automatically driven towards working as much as they can and this has been made so much easier by the internet so we can do our jobs remotely.
The question is, how do you have time to relax nowadays when schedules are so chaotic and so much is expected of us?
Soak in a hot bath or set time aside at least once a week to practice any kind of self-care. Society can have an unhealthy opinion of relaxation but relaxing is necessary to perform the rest of our lives to the best of our abilities.
Self-care is a way of looking after our bodies mentally and physically, and it can include anything. From having a bath and getting a massage, to cooking healthy food and doing some exercise.
It may not be the most thrilling activity but clearing up not only helps you feel relaxed in your surroundings, but the ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ idea really has been proved effective. Japanese author Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up goes so far as to say people should rid their house of everything that doesn’t bring them joy.
A place so cluttered you can’t find anything will stress you out (believe me) so if you have no need or use for an object but it’s still in good condition, sell it or donate it to a charity shop.
Meditate or do yoga
If you can fit in yoga, pilates, or meditation, these exercises are incredible for both your mind and body. They are especially useful in helping you feel calm and less stressed.
Many gyms do yoga or pilates classes but you can do it at home by following YouTube tutorials. For meditation there are incredible apps like Calm and Headspace – I use them before I go to bed sometimes.
Plan relaxation time
If you struggle to let yourself relax, planning time in your diary might help you to do it guilt-free. For instance, if you have a TV show you enjoy watching at 9pm on a Tuesday, why not aim to get everything done beforehand and allow yourself to relax for the rest of the evening?
Relaxing can come in various forms. You might watch TV, read, go for a walk, or pursue a relaxing hobby like painting or baking.
Have a device detox
Spending time away from social media and electronic devices removes the pressure of being always connected.
You could do it all in one go and cut yourself off for a few days, but make sure you tell people who will worry if they don’t hear from you. Equally effective is disconnecting for a few hours every day, for instance before bedtime.
Immerse yourself in a hobby
Sometimes difficulty relaxing can come from the issues and concerns that make up our daily lives. If you remove yourself from these and take up something you enjoy, you’ll find relaxing much easier.
Choose an activity you love, but make sure it demands your full concentration and that it’s totally different from your work or study.
Get out in nature
This is probably one of my favourite ways to relax. Nothing can simulate the feeling of fresh air and natural surroundings, and for me as a city-dweller it’s really important.
If you can get out in nature for some time every day it will do you the world of good. This is harder if you live in a city, but do what you can – visit a park and then plan visits to the countryside at the weekend.
Spending time planning your life can contribute massively to making you feel more in control and therefore more relaxed. Don’t make unrealistic to-do lists because this is likely to stress you out. Instead, make sure you’ve got all your appointments recorded so you don’t miss anything.
Get a colouring book
Seriously, colouring in is so therapeutic. Get yourself an adult colouring book (I have a Harry Potter one). Switch yourself off from the world for a little while, put on some relaxing music, get a cup of tea, and lose yourself in the colouring. It feels incredible.
Finally, if you feel your natural workaholic ways creeping back ask yourself what makes you happy. Even if you love your job, are you happy to spend loads of your time working and not leave time for other pursuits? Can you slightly cut down your work load and still excel in your career?
Remind yourself that happiness is your goal on a daily basis and try to live each day reaching for this. Work hard, but strive to find time for your other interests. And always ensure to look after your health and to see your loved ones. If you can nail this balance, feeling relaxed will come more naturally.