Everybody loves the feeling of getting some time off after a stressful period at work or school. However, nothing can put a stopper on much needed respite like not being able to fully relax when you need to.
Whether it’s anxiety over more upcoming stress, worries about the past, not being able to structure off-time well, or just not being able to get fully into the swing of relaxation, keeping your mind in a position where it can heal and declutter itself is important for a healthy work/life relationship.
Taking time for yourself has long been known to increase productivity; even simple day-to-day things such as getting a good night’s sleep or going for a run are known to give your body and mind the opportunity to reflect and adapt to the rigors of a working week.
Being able to shape that time to your needs will help you prevent burnout, overcome exhaustion, and will lead to a whole host of positive changes: not only will you return to work better, more productive, and more energised, but you’ll feel those benefits all the time.
You’ll feel less stressed after a long day, and you’ll regain more energy from taking your time off.
It’s a beautiful, recursive loop; feeling good leads to feeling productive, and knowing how to detox the worst feelings allows you to be more constructive with your time, and means it’ll be longer till you desperately need to take another break.
There are three main facets to ordering your relaxation. The first is in your body, the second is in your surroundings, and the third is in how you relax. Let’s go through each in turn to give you a quick rundown on exactly how to get the most out of your time.
Move Your Body
Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers often thought that a mind-body balance was important, and some of the greatest thinkers, who we’d be prone to imagining as frail old men in togas, would have been quite muscular people from a lifetime of exercise regimes.
Exercise is good for the mind and for the soul. It’s relaxing, it helps combat depression and anxiety, helps relieve stress (but don’t overdo it), and is linked to having more energy.
Even a little is enough to start this process happening, so consider taking a short walk or jog on your days off. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should hit the gym right away. Just getting out and doing things helps!
Andrea Yearsley, a Rapid Transformation Therapist and Hypnotherapist advises that the key to relaxing lies with switching off the brain through physical action.
As she says, “The best way to do this varies from person to person but generally speaking, those with more ‘active’ brains tend to respond better to activities that require mental concentration e.g dance classes, martial arts, rally car driving.”
“However more contemplative people often find that that activities like painting, walking or meditation are more suitable.”
Embrace Your Creative Side
Have you ever been inclined to create rather than repeat the same monotonous tasks of your everyday life? Indulging in a creative project, whether it be visual arts, music or film making, has been proven relieve stress and re-centre the mind.
Artist Kathleen Dutton of says creative work allows people to relax in the process. “In getting lost in the process somehow we find peace. Drawing especially for whatever age from children to elderly all have positive results from connecting with their creativity.”
Gardening is an outdoor activity that helps with almost precisely the same type of things; you’ll be taking an active role in creating something, getting a lot of Vitamin D from the sun (remember to slip slop slap!) and help structuring off-time creatively.
According to Craig Howard of Artisan Stone; “Undertaking a DIY project is the perfect escape in the comfort of your own backyard.
Dedicating your time to a passion project and using your own two hands to realise it is one of the best ways to turn your mind off the nagging stressors of everyday life”.
A Change Of Scenery
Sometimes just looking at a beautiful vista will help. In the same way that keeping a plant in your office helps your mood, energy, and outlook, taking a trip and broadening your horizons does a couple of much-needed things for improving your ability to relax:
- It broadens your horizons, and allows you to experience sights, sounds, and tastes you might not otherwise. Even a few hours down the track in most places will have something for people to experience if you’re not a fan of going overseas.
- The physical act of uprooting yourself from your usual surroundings that would remind you of everyday stress goes a long way in helping you truly refocus and calm your mind.
- It’ll give you something to look forward to when you’re stressed at work, or something to reflect upon when life gets you feeling blue.
- It has proven health benefits across the board.
The next time you have a block of time or holidays, check out a few relaxing destinations and think about which you’d love to visit.
The Subtle Art Of Sleeping Longer
Sleeping less is one of the largest ways to increase your stress, while sleeping longer is one of the best to relieve it.
Keep track of your sleep habits, and consider the possibility that adding an hour or two every so often can help reduce feelings of fatigue and give your body a chance to properly rest.
If you have days where you don’t get much sleep in an unavoidable pattern (such as working late), consider that sleep debt is real, and that sooner or later you’ll have to pay it back.
Try searching online for an app to track your sleep, and monitor your patterns to improve it.
Sleepytime is one such amazing tool, which will not only calculate when you should wake up, but in the event that you do need a shortened night sleep once in awhile, tell you when to go to bed to maximise your sleep cycle benefits.