The biggest key to relaxation is taking time for it! We need to give ourselves permission to take time out and make relaxing a priority.
Below are easy ways to relax throughout the day. They may seem obvious, and they are, but often the solutions to our problems are right under our nose — we are simply overlooking them.
Stop and “do nothing”
Take short relaxation breaks often by stopping and doing nothing from time to time. Give yourself room to “simply be”. Rest is the basis of activity, and those restful pauses will help you reset. One woman once confessed that when she got home from work, she liked to “sit and stare at the wall”. She thought there was something wrong with her, but I assured her it was her body and mind telling her she needed some complete down time.
Take some deep breaths
“Take a deep breath” has become a cliché – you hear it on sitcoms, in conversations, everywhere — and for good reason. It helps! When you are anxious and tense, you tend to stop breathing, or the breath is very shallow. Taking some slow, deep breaths helps to break that pattern and gives you an instant sense of calm. Let your breath go deep into your belly, bringing your awareness to your abdominal muscles and letting them relax.
Simply bring your attention to your breathing. Observe the natural flow of the breath. Notice how it moves in and out, how it feels, how your body moves as you breathe. Take time to become aware of all the details of the experience of breathing. Not only does this remind you to breathe, but it can be comforting to connect with this natural rhythm of life. (It’s a lot like watching the waves washing in and out at the ocean.)
(Read our Relax with the Breath page to learn to relax with the breath. We also recommend our Meditation Oasis CD with four deeply relaxing meditations, including a guided breath meditation. This CD will help you learn to meditate with the breath.)
Simple stretching can do wonders. If you sit at a computer or do any work that causes you to remain in the same position for long periods of time, it is highly stressful. Stretch your arms and legs, bring your attention to your body and notice how it wants to move naturally. Watch little children before they’ve been trained to “sit still”. It’s natural to move and the body loves it!
(The Stretching toward a Healthier Life DVD by Jacques Gauthier is an easy, relaxing and enjoyable way to learn simple, effective stretches.)
Make it a priority to have relaxing music on hand — in your car, at the office — and use it! A guided meditation CD can also be a welcome help — it’s often much easier to relax with a soothing voice guiding you.
Lie down and rest.
Even five minutes of lying down can be refreshing. Don’t mind if you feel restless and your mind keeps coming up with reasons to get up. When you’ve been revving up the engine on a car, it takes a while for it to come to idle when you take your foot off the pedal. It can be like that when we take time to relax – we need to let the body and mind gradually unwind.
These suggestions are extremely simple, but you may find it difficult to follow them. In that case, you may want to read What Makes it Hard to Relax?
Our Pure Relaxation CD
We created our Pure Relaxation CD to help people relax effortlessly. In it we’ve captured the essence of everything we’ve learned over the years about how to relax. Guided meditations with soothing music help you to let go of effort, invoking the body’s natural relaxation response. Using it repeatedly helps to develop a “relaxation habit” so that you find yourself automatically relaxing during the day. Read more.