Until a few years ago, when I experienced my first panic attack, I didn’t realise that relaxing sometimes has to be something you schedule time for, and for some a conscious effort.
Being an extremely anxious person, relaxing doesn’t come easily to me and sitting still is something I definitely find testing. My friends have often compared me to a puppy; I have a lot of energy and, much like a puppy, sitting and watching TV or a movie doesn’t cut it when it comes to relaxing and I often get bored and start to fidget. Therefore I need activities that hold my attention in a relaxing way without requiring too much thought.
These 7 things meet that criteria perfectly:
Reading is a perfect way for me to keep my attention on something other than my worries. Unlike TV, it requires full attention meaning your thoughts can’t wander off and reaching for your phone or laptop isn’t an option. This is a great way of letting your brain focus on one thing rather than constantly multitasking.
Before trying it, mindfulness really did not appeal to me. The thought of a. Sitting still b. Ignoring distractions and c. Focusing on my breath, which usually just stresses me out more because it becomes a conscious effort, sounded horrendous. But I was pleasantly surprised and after just one ten minute session on the free app Headspace, I had never felt more relaxed. It fully brought my into the present instead of focusing on what was on my to do list, finally clearing my thoughts, which are constantly racing. It’s a great way to forget about everything going on in your life for a little while and is great for your mental health.
Yoga or stretching exercises are a great way to keep your mind occupied on your breath and how you’re feeling, much like mindfulness. There are so many videos available for free on YouTube to chose from. Although, I am personally not a fan of the more slow paced styles (I cannot lie holding my knees for over a minute without reaching for my phone), the moderately paced yoga styles are great for keeping your attention on what move you’re transitioning into, as well as your form.
There’s nothing like a warm bubble bath to calm you down at the end of a stressful day. There’s something about the combination of warm water and natural lighting from candles and the smell of lavender that forces you to relax (plus it helps that space is usually restricted which forces you to sit still if you’re a fidgeter like me).
Not only is drawing a great way to get your emotions out on paper, occupying your mind, it also occupies your hands. For anyone who struggles to sit completely still, it’s a great way to fidget instead of reaching for your phone and checking Instagram.
If I manage to avoid the massive dance hits playlist on Spotify, which just results in me jumping around my room and being desperate for a night out, listening to slower paced or spa music can be really relaxing. It shuts out the rest of the world and can instantly change your emotions if you’re in a bad mood.
7. Go to the spa/bring the spa to you
I think everyone can agree that there is nothing more relaxing than a massage or a facial. On a whole having someone pamper you is hard to beat. But it’s obviously expensive, so having a DIY pamper session is a good way to relax on a budget. Light some candles, find some spa music and do a face mask or paint your nails and feel the stress melt away.