There’s little doubt that life right now is very stressful. Whether you’re working remotely or going to your place of employment a few times a week, chances are you’re spending more time at home. Juggling family needs with workplace demands in these unprecedented times is a cause of extreme stress on our bodies. That’s why it’s essential to find healthy ways to relax and restore your health. Devoting even a few minutes each day can help to improve your health and happiness levels; it’s like pressing the “reset button” after a day of dealing with life and all the curveballs it can throw at you.
Despite what many of us think, it’s important to remember that sitting on the couch for hours watching movies, television shows, video games, or scrolling through social media is NOT relaxation. These activities often increase your feelings of anxiety, fear, and isolation! This isn’t to say you should cut off internet service and throw out the TV set, but there are better pain relief options for when your body is aching and just needs a break.
If you have teens or children at home, it’s essential that they, too, find time to relax. The best way to do this is by engaging in relaxation exercises together. For younger children, relaxation before bedtime may help them to sleep better. For older children or adolescents, a morning activity may help them better prepare for the school day. Regardless of age, children who regularly practice relaxation techniques tend to have an easier time learning and experience fewer social and behavioral concerns.
Why Relaxation is Good for You
Over the years, numerous medical studies have shown how beneficial the everyday experience of relaxation can be for the body and the mind. Here are a few of the most common benefits you can expect:
- Clarity of thought, improved memory, and better decision-making
- Resilience to future stressors and adverse events
- Increased positivity about yourself and others
- Reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of heart attack, and other stress-related mental health concerns and physical illnesses.
Signs that You Might Benefit from Relaxation
It’s rare for a person who doesn’t have any stress in their life! However, if we don’t have healthy habits for dealing with stress, it can build up and start to cause problems. Here are just a few of the most common side effects of stress on your body:
- frequent headaches and muscle pains in places where you hold tension (jaw, back, neck)
- insomnia, nightmares, or difficulty falling asleep
- forgetfulness, memory loss, and confusion
- appetite changes, often with either weight loss or weight gain
- feeling isolated and lonely
- using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
- depression or heightened emotional sensitivity
- attendance or performance issues at work or school
Relaxing at Home: Five Easy Ways
When it comes to relaxing at home, the easier to do, the better it is! Pick a category that appeals to you and give it a try. You can also mix and match different categories based on how you’re feeling – remember, listen to your body, and do what feels right!
1. Connect with Old Friends
All humans benefit from community and socializing with others, so stay connected with friends and family who are caring and supportive. Feeling emotionally supported is an important factor in dealing with stressful times. Whether you talk on the phone, have a Zoom video conference, or write old fashioned letters, staying connected is fun, relaxing, and good for you.
2. Try Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises where you consciously slow your inhalations and exhalations are one way to relax and ease stress. Focusing on your breath and “watching” it as it moves in and out of your body can help to reduce depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. If you’re new to breathwork or breathing meditations, give it a try while taking a warm bath, sitting in a massage chair, listening to soothing music, or receiving a gentle massage.
3. Find Your Happy Place
Much like breathing exercises, visualizations can help you to relax and feel calm. Best of all, you can do it anywhere! All you need to do is close your eyes and imagine a place that brings you great happiness. Maybe it’s a beach scene with swaying palm trees and gentle waves or a mountain waterfall surrounded by aromatic pine trees and mossy stones. It could even be a place from your childhood that you loved to spend time in, like grandma’s kitchen or grandpa’s workshop. The more you can visualize (sights, sounds, smells, sensations, tastes), the more you will relax.
4. Connect with Creativity
You don’t have to be an artist or musician to be creative. When you focus on making something new, be it a recipe, a song, a painting, or a garden, your creative side of the brain takes over, and all those stressful thoughts and worries start to slip away. Creativity can actually improve your health! If you’re not sure where to start, consider creative activities you enjoyed as a child. Perhaps you kept a diary, loved to do needlepoint or sew, or enjoyed building things. Take some time to come up with a list and then add to it something you’d like to try now. Maybe you’re curious about photography, baking, or learning a musical instrument. There’s no right or wrong way to be creative – it’s whatever activity you enjoy so much that it keeps you wanting to do more!
5. Enjoy the Natural World
Spending time outside in nature is one of the best things you can do to alleviate stress and boost your feelings of happiness. Simply walking to the mailbox or sitting in the backyard can help you relax. For times when you can’t get outside, surround yourself with houseplants, or consider installing modern light fixtures with natural daylight bulbs. If you have a park or walking trails near where you live or work, try to get outside for a bit during lunch. Combining nature with exercise or movement is also very beneficial.
Ready to Relax?
If you’re in a stressful situation right now, don’t let it get the best of you by negatively impacting your health and well-being. Make the decision to relieve those pressures by giving a few moments each day to the various relaxation strategies listed here.
And if you’re not feeling stressed or anxious right now, having a daily relaxation practice is an excellent preventative measure that will help you be able to deal with stress when it occurs. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!