I can overthink things, clench my jaw until it hurts, grind my teeth, talk in my sleep, sense knots in my stomach, feel anxious and sometimes overwhelmed. Luckily, not all at the same time mind you, but it will be an extremely rare day not to feel at least one of these sensations. You know exactly what they feel like too, because they are all perfectly normal things to experience.
I’m neither alone or unique. I’m not special. I’m just like you and you’re just like me. We have all struggled in the embrace of relaxation, shrugging it off like a child ducks the cuddles and kisses of an enthusiastic Great Auntie. Chilling and relaxing just doesn’t come easy to some of us.
The fine art of relaxation is a skill that needs maintaining. It takes regular effort. If you do not allow yourself some time each day to relax, you very quickly lose the ability to push your worries away. Sadly, this is something that took me many years to realise!
As a child you don’t have a care in the world. You don’t worry about a single thing. Adults, on the other hand, have worrying completely nailed. But how? Nobody takes us to one side at school for anxiety classes, yet we pick up this negative trait from somewhere.
I have a happy place though – the beach. Not a hot beach heaving with sweaty, noisy tourists (I’m clenching my jaw just thinking about that!). No. For me it’s a deserted beach. Just me. No Books. No music. To be perched on the edge of a rock watching waves tickle the edge of the beach is my idea of heaven. Even cold, wet and windy beaches where the waves might thump rather than tickle. I can sit and gaze at the horizon for what feels like hours, drifting off in my thoughts. As each wave retreats back into the sea, it takes another of my worries with it. The feeling is blissful.
Unfortunately, I’m not able to live near the coast, so need additional methods of relaxation. This is where the effort is required, and a lot of trial and error! And time. You need to give yourself time.
We are all living in an age where are spoilt for choice when it comes to time saving devices. There are gadgets that wash and dry our clothes. Vacuum cleaners are now automated, as are lawnmowers, and they spin off happily doing their jobs with little or no intervention from us. We can control our cars and homes from our smart phones. Apps help us organise our lives, shop, order food and communicate with friends and family all over the world. So why on earth have we not got the time to relax?
Time stealers. They come in many forms – life, family, social media, demanding friends, jobs, unsociable working hours and the fear of missing out. Add them all together and what precious time we did have has been quietly snatched away.
Giving yourself 10 minutes won’t instantly help you find inner peace, but what you do with those 10 minutes could make all the difference, especially if you allow it to become a habit. By creating a ‘go-to’ bank of relaxation tools, you can make sure you have a small moment of bliss whenever you get the chance.
Here’s our top 10 tips to try when you get time to chill:
- Grab a bar of chocolate – yeah, yeah, a couple of squares of dark chocolate is what we are supposed to enjoy. I won’t tell anyone if you’d rather have a Galaxy Ripple.
- Breath. Yes – I know you are already breathing. But you aren’t doing it right. Try an App like Calm and follow the breathing exercises. They work!
- Close your eyes. Having a little gaze at the back of your eyelids for 10 minutes will do you the power of good. Maybe set an alarm on your phone or fitness band just in case you nod off, though.
- Try a mini-mani. Grab an emery board, tidy up those raggedy corners on your nails and finish with a small dollop of your favourite hand cream. After all the COVID-19 handwashing and sanitising, your hands will thank you for it.
- Get outside. Don’t let rain stop you – grab an umbrella. Make the effort to breathe in some fresh air.
- Sit by a window when it’s raining and watch the water roll down the glass. Open the window and listen to the rain. Notice how it filters the rest of the noise as it bounces to the ground from plants and buildings.
- Doodle. Grab a pen or pencil and something to doodle on – a receipt from your purse or the back of an envelope in the recycling pile. Doesn’t matter. But let your mind wander and see what happens.
- Try journaling. We aren’t talking about an Adrian Mole or Bridget Jones style diary entry here, although that’s a good idea, too! Just a few lines about your day will do.
- Read. But do it slowly and read something you enjoy. Savour each word and take pleasure from turning the pages.
- Go for a walk. Not Ten Tors. Just a quick 10 minutes around the block. It might be all the steps you needed to make your Fitbit sparkle and vibrate on your wrist, but if not at least those steps will be another chunk helping you on your way to achieving your daily step goal.
I had to laugh recently when I saw Brad Pitt’s character in the film Ad Astra. He’s on Mars and is supposed to be heading back to Earth, but his heart rate is too high. So, he’s put in a special room with digital walls that display images of rolling waves and pretty flowers. I’m sure an hour or so on a real beach with me would help lower his heart rate. It would be lower than mine, that’s for sure …