Relaxing gives your mind and body time to recover from the stresses of everyday life. Breathing techniques and remembering to be in the present moment can help.
Fit things into your day that help you unwind.
This could be:
- listening to music
- going for a walk
- being in nature
- contact with friends
- activities you enjoy
Make a conscious effort to do something relaxing every day. Even 10 minutes of downtime can help you manage stress better. The more pauses you can build into your day the calmer you'll feel.
It can help to have a specific place where you go to relax. This can be your bedroom, bathroom, the garden shed or a small corner in the kitchen. It should be somewhere you feel comfortable and secure.
We all take breathing for granted. It's something that happens without us being conscious of it.
You can learn effective breathing techniques. By bringing more oxygen into the body and brain, this can help to reduce stress, anxiety and panic.
Life is hectic but it only takes a few minutes to stop and breathe.
Concentrate on your breathing
Take a couple of minutes to concentrate on how you breathe. You might notice that your breathing comes from the top of your chest. When we are stressed, tired or feeling anxious we tend to take quick, shallow breaths.
When we are relaxed we take slower and calmer breaths. This also helps us to feel calmer.
More oxygen helps your body and brain function better. Changing how you feel physically can change how you feel mentally. Calming the physical feeling of anxiety - with deep breaths - can help to relieve an anxious mind.
Practice these tips to help you take a moment and breathe:
- Sit in a comfortable and supportive chair.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your tummy.
- Breathe as you would normally, but notice where your breath is coming from in your body.
- Concentrate on taking a deep breath and filling your lungs - notice how your tummy rises and falls.
- As you get used to taking deep breaths, try holding your breath for a count of 4 and then exhaling to a count of 6 - this will encourage you to take deeper breaths.
- When taking a deep breath it's important to focus on the exhale.
- As you get better at taking deep breaths, try working towards exhaling for 9 seconds and inhaling for 7.
When your mind feels overloaded with thoughts or stress, it helps to pay attention to what's around you.
Focus on what's going on around you. This could be the people walking past or the colour of the sky. Notice the colours, the textures, even the smells and sounds around you. This can help to bring you back into the moment.
Focus on your feelings
Take a moment to focus on your feelings at various points during the day. This gives you time and space to acknowledge your feelings.
Even noticing how you are feeling can change how you feel. It's possible to change your feelings about a situation, even when things seem difficult.
The more you practice noticing your feelings, the better you'll get. The important thing is to focus on the feeling without judgement, just kindness.
Pay attention to your walk
If possible, when you're feeling stressed, go for a walk for a minute or two. Focus on each step that you take. Concentrate on how it feels to bring your foot down and then up again.
Notice the movement of your body, the swing of your arms, and all the sensations and sounds you experience as you walk. It might sound odd, but this can help to focus you on the moment.
The HSE provides free online stress control classes.
You can also find mindfulness exercises and relaxation apps on the Health Library Ireland website.