By Brandi Bellamy, AMFT, PPS
“Just relax” are two words that sound so simple, but in reality, it is hard to do when you feel like things are out of control and if you take a break from worrying, everything will get exponentially worse. Here are a few things you can implement in your daily life to bring some relaxation into your life.
The simplest step to relaxation is to breathe. You’re already doing it, so you are halfway there. The next step is to breathe with intention. What does that mean? Instead of allowing your body to run on autopilot and breathe normally, begin consciously think of how you are breathing. If you can, begin to slow down your breathing pattern and breathe deeper. Here are some activities you an do to practice deep breathing:
- Blow soap bubbles or bubbles in your drink
- Try to keep a feather or small piece of paper in the air for as long as possible
- Find a breathing gif
- Create straw art
- When you hug your pet or loved one, take a deep breath
- Any of these other breathing focused techniques
Listen to music
We know that music has the capability to be a major stress reliever. What music is best at relieving stress? That answer really depends on you. While science favors a slow tempo instrumental song, that may not be the best for you at that moment. Sometimes when you feel stress, you want to listen to a song that feels like it understands you, so maybe a fast-paced, emotionally ladened piece is more of your style for you in the moment. Like with breathing, if you’re listening to music to relieve stress, do it intentionally. Allow yourself to sit with a track, album, or playlist and allow yourself to really listen to it for that designated amount of time.
Games have the ability to bring out some of the good anxiety that allows us to beat each level, defeat the bosses, or beat our high-score. While some find that to be fun or relaxing, its purpose is not to calm your mind because there is always pressure to win. The games listed below are some app games that allow you to relax your brain while being entertained:
- Zen Koi
- Furista’s Cat Cafe
- AC Pocket Camp
- I Love Hue
- Grand Mountain Adventure
- Pretty much any game that has a “Zen Mode”
Before we began sheltering in place, I would have scoffed at the idea of yoga being relaxing, because every experience I had with it was uncomfortable. I felt uncoordinated, unbalanced, inflexible, and overall weak for not being able to maintain any of the poses that we were instructed to do. Eventually, I decided to try restorative yoga, a type of practice that allows you to sit or lie down the entire time. The fact that it was more accessible allowed me to see and enjoy the relaxation aspects of yoga. Here are a few good beginner yoga resources you can access:
- Yoga with Bird
- Down Dog (Free for students until January 1, 2021)
- Yoga with Christina
Mindfulness is another one of those buzzwords that sometimes sounds cheesy and hippy, but when it is utilized correctly, it’s incredibly beneficial. Mindfulness in its simplest form is being aware of what you are feeling in the moment, whether that is physically or emotionally. Here are some steps you can take to be more mindful in your every day life:
- Slow down– what’s your hurry in doing this one thing in particular? Remember not everything has a hard deadline.
- Pay attention– What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Are your thoughts and feelings relevant to what you’re doing?
- Bring your thoughts and feelings present to what you’re doing presently.
- Accept yourself for how you’re feeling.
Taking these steps allows you to be present with yourself. It also allows you to learn about your hot buttons and the effectiveness of the coping tools you are already using. Here are a few apps you can use to help you if you want to begin a mindfulness practice:
Utilize activities you already enjoy
Last but certainly not least, do what relaxes you! For some people it is vegging out and watching kids movies that remind them of a simpler time, for others, it is going for a run around the neighborhood, but to maximize their relaxation potential, you need to create time for it and do it just long enough that you feel relaxed.