If you ask someone how they've been, they will most likely tell you they've been busy. And life is busy, especially for those of you who have kids. And I have been the same lately. Some really cool opportunities had come my way and I had said yes to all of them, thinking they would be spread out a bit. But some things got pushed back and then everything needed to be ready at once. My rescue comes in the form of strict to-do lists and an organised calender. Plus, some super easy exercises that helped me to relax, even when I didn't have the time for it. Why is it so important that we relax? Because relaxation is the opposite of tension. And that is what we build in our bodies during these busy and stressful days. And if this tension becomes chronic it starts to have an impact on our mental and physical health. The hormonal balance of women for instance is largely dependent on the levels of stress she is experiencing. Luckily there are many different small and bigger ways that we can bring the tension down and relax. But how are you ever going to have time to do them when you're already so busy.
In this article I'll share 4 ways to add more relaxation to your daily life and 4 easy exercises that you can do anytime anywhere.
1. Don't make relaxation another thing on your to-do list
Especially when we're busy our mind starts to view everything we want to do as another 'task'. Something that we put on our to-do list and that we will get to when/if we have time for it. I can tell you that if you do that it will never happen.
It is better if we look at relaxation as something that is a natural part of being human. Like the see has eb and flow, our opposite of tension is relaxation. We need it.
2. Be intentional about relaxing
Be aware of the moments when you feel stressed. Usually we can feel this in our bodies, our posture changes and our muscles get tense. If you've had a stressful meeting, don't rush off to the next thing, but take a moment to recoup using one of the exercises below.
3. Plan your moments
If you plan a couple of 2-5 minute moments throughout your day, you can notice a tremendous benefit. It works best if you attach these moments to something else. Maybe when you brush your teeth in the morning, you also take 10 intentional deep breaths in and out. When you commute to work you can listen to relaxing music or your favourite podcast. Anything that can be added into your regular routines will give you the highest chances of actually doing it and getting those moments of relaxation.
4. Do what works for you
We all have different personalities and sometimes what is relaxing for one person can bring tension to the next. Try out different things and be totally honest if it is working for you or not. Don't be afraid to think outside the box. I sometimes relax from listening to super intense music. The overwhelm of sound can be like a lullaby to me. It might not be the first thing you think of, but we are all so different. It can help to be aware and notice in your own life which things bring you relaxation and use them to your advantage.
And here are 4 exercises that will add some quick and easy relaxation to your day.
1. Trick your mind into thinking you're relaxed by breathing deeply
This can be done at any moment and in any situation. When you get stressed or anxious, one of the first things you'll notice is that your breath gets shallow. Because the breath gets shallow our mind gets into a more stressed/anxious state and so one..... The part that we have control over is our breath and that is what can get us out. Make sure that you not only focus on breathing in deeply, but also on a deep and full breath out. It's the full out breath that can really make a difference in starting to naturally breath more deeply again and getting into a more relaxed state. If you want to add a little more mindfulness, then notice the pause in between the breaths as well.
2. Bring your attention to your feet
The more stressed we are, the more we get into our heads and forget about our bodies. Because of this there is little body awareness and too much focus on our thoughts. You can break this obsession with your thoughts by bringing awareness to your feet. This makes a huge change. The thoughts suddenly are not the centre of attention anymore and you can feel more calm.
3. Shake it off
Ok, for this one make sure no one sees you, because they'll think you're nuts. But shaking it off is actually really helpful. Animals use shaking as a natural way of getting rid of stress. You can either do a shoulder shake or do some small, quick knee bends to shake up and down. Let your whole body join in for a minute, including your face. If you've never tried this before, let me know in the comments what your experience was.
4. Relax your face
Did you know that people find you more approachable if you relax your jaw? I've learned this from an actress who explained how the act of relaxing her jaw would change the way in which the audience would connect to her. So whenever you notice some tension, relax your jaw. It will not only help you feel more relaxed, but is also good for your social life.
I hope that this article will help you to add some relaxation to your day. I do want to add that if you're in a situation which adds a lot of stress to your life, sometimes your solution is not these exercises, but changing the situation. You know if that applies to you.
And I am sure that all of you have some really interesting relaxation techniques that work wonders for you. Please share them in the comments below so we can all benefit.