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RELAX, UNWIND AND RECHARGE

Do you battle through each week praying for the weekend to arrive, only to go back to work on Monday feeling more exhausted than ever?

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Do you battle through each week praying for the weekend to arrive, only to go back to work on Monday feeling more exhausted than ever?

If so, you’re not alone.

Despite our best intentions to have a relaxing evening or weekend, many of us simply never manage it, reports Daily Mail.

Now a new survey has revealed that nearly three-quarters of us often have days when we simply don’t get any “down” or relaxation time at all.

“Relaxing, winding down and unplugging from our busy lives is important as it gives our bodies and minds a chance to recalibrate.

“Just as sleep restores us, so does rest, relaxation and down-time

BREATHE LIKE A BABY

“One of the easiest, quickest and most powerful ways to relax is by breathing deeply through the diaphragm as babies do,” says Dr. Arroll.

“The problem is that as we age, we develop shallow chest breathing, which can maintain feelings of stress and anxiety.

First, place your hand on your stomach and make sure it rises when you inhale and dips on the exhale. To make sure you’re not breathing isn’t shallow, place your other hand on your chest, which shouldn’t lift if the diaphragm is engaged. Inhale steadily through your nose for a count of three, then out for another count of three.

While doing this, repeat the word “calm” in your mind. Feel the tension drain from your shoulders and chest on each breath. Repeat the exercise five to ten times at regular intervals throughout the day: on waking, before lunch and at bedtime.

GET YOUR FINGERS MOVING

“This may seem counterintuitive to relaxation, but by concentrating on a simple task, we can actively rest the mind of worries,” says Dr. Arroll.

“The activity needs to be complex enough to hold our attention and have an endpoint to help engender a sense of achievement.

“Origami is a great pastime to practice as you can start with very easy design and build-up to more intricate creations.

“Other hobbies such as knitting offer a rhythmic movement which can function as a hypnotic action, leading to an almost meditative state.”

SCAN YOUR BODY FROM HEAD TO TOE

Sit down comfortably and notice the physical sensation of the weight of your body touching the chair. Now start the technique by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. With every breath out, focus on the exhalation and relax your body into the chair.

Next, let your mind and your attention wander through your body.

This does not have to be in any set sequence and should not be rushed.

You may want to start with your fingertips – notice any sensations there: perhaps they feel a little heavy.

Now move through the body. If you started at the fingers, move up the arm and into the chest.

Again, notice any sensations – your heartbeat, temperature, perhaps you have experienced some twitching sensations, gurgling or bubbling in the stomach or gut.

When you feel a sensation, even any tension or stillness, acknowledge the sensation for a moment before continuing your journey through your body.

You may start to notice that the number of sensations you are feeling seem to be vanishing after a few minutes, and this is normal.

Take the tour until you reach your toes, then allow yourself a few more breaths before gradually returning to your day.

IMAGINE YOURSELF IN A RELAXED STATE

Visualization is often used for relaxation as our minds have the power to transport us to a bubble of calm.

Start by thinking of a place where you feel most relaxed – it could be anywhere, a country field in the spring, a holiday beach, even a place from your childhood. The key here is that this place is relaxing for you, not anyone else.

Now close your eyes. Start by thinking of exactly what you saw, heard, felt, smelled and tasted so that you engage all of your senses. The more detail you can bring to mind, the more powerful this technique will be.

Now make sure you’re breathing steadily and spend a few moments exploring your environment. You will start to feel the sense of calm wash over you. To end the exercise, gently pull yourself back to the here and now by taking a deep breath in through the nose on a count of three, and exhale.

HOW A DO-TO LIST REALLY CAN HELP YOU RELAX

If you notice it’s difficult to focus on relaxation because you’ve got a lot on your mind, write down your worries in a notepad before you begin your relaxation, advises Dr. Jen Nash.

This helps for two reasons. Firstly, no matter how long the list may be, you can see your worries DO have a beginning an end – which stops the endless cycle inside your mind.

Secondly, you’ve sent a message to your mind that your worries are important, and you do plan on attending to them (helpful because worries are your brain’s way of keeping you safe against possible danger). This will leave your mind clear to focus on your relaxation.

If you’re still finding it difficult to feel calm, imagine that each of the worries is written on a balloon, and visualize the balloons floating off with your worries.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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