If you are starting the new year after a particularly stressful festive period, it’s time to refocus with a more positive and relaxed frame of mind. Trying to find relaxation can be difficult with our non-stop one hundred mile an hour lives. We often wake up in the morning, dreading the day and trying to fit as much as possible into our working day. You may have an overbearing boss, you might have unrealistic targets to meet, and you might be worrying about the security of your job. Stress and anxiety can leave you in a heightened state of alertness that can make it difficult to switch off when you are at home.
Many people are so stressed that their relationships begin to suffer, quality family time diminishes and they can’t even sleep because their thoughts are continually whirring. If this sounds like you, then you need to think about putting relaxation at the centre of your new year's resolutions. Trying to seek relaxation can sound like a selfish pursuit, but finding it can make you a better individual to be around, a better parent, a better employee and a happier person. Take a look at this guide to help you relax and manage your stress a little better.
Finding the time to relax can be the biggest obstacle to achieving a more calm existence. However, don’t assume that you need to take hefty chunks of time all in one go. While a weekend away at a spa to embark on a spot of reiki, a sauna session and a massage or two, this can be a real luxury. Instead, focus on more regular ten minute bursts of relaxation that can aid mindfulness and help keep your emotions in check. Perhaps you can take ten minutes or so during your working day to get outside. Being stuck behind a desk can leave you stationary for much of the day never seeing any sunlight. Head outdoors and get some fresh air. It has been scientifically proven that natural light can help lift your mood, regulate your body clock to help you sleep better, and give you some time to recharge your batteries.
If you have had a particularly stressful phone call with a client, ten minutes walking around the park can be hugely beneficial and give you some much needed breathing space before your next meeting. The outdoors will give you the chance to experience the sun’s rays, taking in some much needed Vitamin D.
Many people have difficult relationships with food. When stressed they may eat too much of the unhealthy stuff, or they may forget to eat at all. You need to rid yourself of these extremes. Instead, stock your cupboards full of relaxation inducing morsels. Green tea is jam packed full of l-theanine, which can reduce your body’s response to stress, leaving you able to manage tense situations more effectively.
Perhaps you are a chocoholic. Rather than going for the mass produced and sugar laden milk chocolate, opt for a slightly more luxurious dark chocolate. Full of flavonoids, a square of dark chocolate a day can help to reduce your blood pressure and improve heart health. Alternatively, go for some honey. This sweet nectar can give you an energy boost and is full of antioxidants. Don’t guzzle it by the spoonful but put a drizzle in your tea or over your porridge in the morning. And a mango or two during your week can help reduce stress because of its active chemical, linalool.
Sometimes we can suffer from acute anxiety because of an event or situation that is getting ever closer on the horizon. Sometimes, life throws people curveballs that need to be overcome, but this doesn’t mean that this won’t be a stress laden period in their lives. Perhaps you have a professional review at work, you need an operation to overcome an injury or illness, or you have suffered a bereavement. When doctors consider how to reassure patients before surgery, they use a mindfulness style approach asking patients not to worry about the worst case scenario that probably won’t even happen, and instead to concentrate on the here and now. This strategy is effective for any anxiety laden situation.
If you suffer from anxiety, whether acute or chronic, enrol onto a mindfulness course and couple this with a spot of yoga. Completed together, and you will find the perfect balance of managing your thought processes as well as learning relaxing breathing techniques, posture exercises to strengthen your core, and having some time to switch off and ultimately relax.
Giving yourself something to do every week that you have always wanted to try can give you something to focus on and look forward to. It doesn’t matter what it is, try and have a go at it on a weekly basis. Maybe you want to learn the piano, or perhaps you want to have a go at a martial art, or maybe you are keen to explore the joys of learning a new language for your next travel adventure. Whatever it is, this weekly focus will help you manage stressful situations at work. You will slowly begin to transition from living to work to working to live.
Doing something new also gives you the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and have fun in new situations. Expanding your social circle can be fun and give you the chance to attend different events, host the odd dinner party and do more with your time at the weekend, rather than worrying about the working week ahead.
Finding some time just for yourself can be difficult if you are a working parent, but just ten minutes a day to yourself in a hot bath, reading a book or relaxing in front of the TV can be hugely beneficial to your mental well being. Relaxing needn’t mean going on holiday to an all inclusive resort and doing nothing while lounging by a pool. Instead, you need to focus on the smaller and more manageable aspects of everyday life. This way, you can feel relaxed and refreshed, helping you to tackle the challenges of modern life.