How to relax properly
Updated: Jan 9
Have you ever tried to switch off from everything and relax properly? And then found that your mind is still trying to get you to think about the job list or the plans you need to make? Have you ever gone to bed with great intentions of having a deep sleep or lie in and then when you wake up, you feel even more tired?
We know that rest is important to us, not only to replenish our physical energy levels and allow our internal systems to get rid of toxins, but also because our mind becomes too stressed. If this goes on for a while, we start to become more anxious and worried, our body thinks it’s being attacked and has to be alert all of the time, and we can end up having a panic attack or possibly become clinically depressed.
So how do we relax properly? Some of us have a long soak in the bath, or open the wine or have a beer, and this can help you to slow down and start to chill. Some people switch on the tv to help them stop thinking about other things, but this can be a form of visual distraction for the mind and doesn’t actually allow it to slow down.
When I was diagnosed with depression a few years ago, it was recommended for me to try some mindfulness practices. I started by doing a short 5 minute practice each day, which meant sitting in a quiet place, away from tv, the phone and the computer, and just closing my eyes and noticing my body. How I was sitting, where my feet were placed on the ground, whether I could feel any tension in parts of my body (there was lots!), what my breathing was like, what thoughts I had coming into my mind. Just by noticing, I started to listen to my body and what it was telling me. Slow down, Jenn, you need to slow down, even just for the next five minutes. It sounds so simple yet it really worked.
In a yoga class, you practise mindful movement by noticing what your body does and how it feels through the poses. At the end of my classes, we all relax together by lying down and noticing how our body melts into the floor and how the tension has all but gone. It’s amazing to talk with everyone afterwards as they notice that their breathing has deepened and slowed right down, and their mind is calmer.
There are other ways to relax properly, such as having a Reiki treatment or a sound bath healing session, and there are many great practitioners out there who can help with this. But you can also help yourself with just five minutes a day of mindfulness. Might be worth a try.
I can highly recommend a book with audio mindfulness practices: Mark Williams, Mindfulness: finding peace in a frantic world. Worth every penny.