Being able to rest and relax in the modern world isn’t always easy. After all, just finding time for a break during a busy work schedule is difficult. Even going on holiday can feel more stressful than rewarding. But learning different ways to relax and putting them into motion should give you the breathing space required to recharge and then resume.
Of course, relaxation doesn’t always mean a spa day or soaking yourself in a deep, hot bath! These days companies are too quick to recommend the ‘pamper’ treatment as a means of reinvigorating your energy.
But looking after the mind is just as important as the physical act of relaxation – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are products that help with rest and relaxation, as much as there are free practices you can use to ease your mind and body.
Here at takegoodcare our mantra is relax, renew… and then resume. Knowing when and how to take a step back – even if it’s just for five minutes a day – can greatly help with wellbeing and emotional management.
So let’s take a look at how you can rest your body and mind, before getting back to the things you’re best at!
Reading can be a perfect way to relax, focus on something else and put aside your worries
Why rest is good for you
Life runs at a million miles an hour these days, and we often don’t realise when we need to stop. This might be due to busy work schedules, the non-stop nature of raising children, an addiction to smartphones and social media apps, or other anxieties that you might be dealing with.
Cognitive behavioural therapists will recommend breathing techniques to help relax the mind in difficult situations. Other behavioural experts will recommend writing down your experiences at the end of the day, so you can digest them either before bed or in the morning.
Understanding when your body and mind needs rest is not easy. Often it’s when we “burn out” that we realise, too late, that we need a break.
Rest is good for you because it keeps your emotional and intellectual intelligence in check. Not only can you operate tasks such as your job at full function, but you can also deal with the emotive side of life. Research has found that sleep deprivation decreases emotional intelligence and puts a strain on interpersonal relationships.
This means over time someone who lacks basic rest can harm their relationships with others, struggle to express themselves properly, and fail to respond to other peoples’ needs.
Rest can be both physical and mental. Sleep is the physical act of your body resting and regenerating, as it prepares for the day ahead. Meditation, going for a walk, even taking a holiday is all part of mental relaxation, which helps keeps your brain active and not overburdened.
And it’s intertwined with relaxation. While we need rest to function properly, we need relaxation for life fulfilment. But you can only relax once you’ve rested – and for this, you need to recognise when to take a break.
How to know when your body needs rest
When work or family arrangements overwhelm us, we can feel an oppressive sense of needing rest. This is when our minds are likely to be highly stressed – yet during a stressed state it is often even harder to relax!
Spotting you are stressed, strained or in some way need to rest is difficult. But there are signs your body – and mind – could do with a break from what life is throwing at it.
Some signs that indicate you might need rest are:
- Weight change – If you experience a sudden weight gain or loss, then consider if your eating or exercise habits have changed due to being overworked. Stress in itself can cause weight gain.
- New habits – Are you suddenly biting your nails all the time, or irritating a patch of skin on your arm? Habits such as these are an indication of stress, and display a physical sign that you need to relax your mind.
- Wrist and back pain – Your body can withstand a lot of stress and pain before you realise there’s something wrong. These days we’re all looking at our computers and smartphones far too much. It means we get repetitive strain in our wrists and our posture worsens over time. Listen out to your bodily pains and consider if you need to take a break from these sitting patterns.
- Struggling to sleep – If it’s taking you longer to get to sleep, and you don’t feel as fulfilled by your slumber in the morning, then this could be down to stress and anxiety. The importance of sleep is something we can all learn more about, starting with keeping smartphones out of the bedroom
Ways to relax and sleep
Getting the right amount of rest and sleep greatly benefits our mind and body. And the solution to sleeping well once the day is over is to address the choices you make during the day. For example, drinking caffeine such as tea and coffee past a certain point in the afternoon is likely to worsen your relaxed state come bed time. As is watching TV in bed.
Of course, we can’t all simply down tools and focus solely on relaxation in order to improve our physical and mental wellbeing. Life gets in the way sometimes. But there are small steps you can take to better relax during a normal day, and over time reduce stress.
Exercise provides a great way to relax your mind and keep your body active, so you can rest more easily at night
And a great way to relax is to anchor yourself to something that is peaceful. If you can focus on a single thing – even for five minutes – it will help rid your mind of all those jobs and tasks that keep popping up when you can’t even hear yourself think.
These focused ways to relax include:
Exercise – Regular exercise releases endorphins that reduce pain in your body and contribute to a general positive feeling. It doesn’t have to be excessive exercise – even a gentle walk can do wonders for the mind and the body. Exercise also forces you to think about one thing only, whether it be running, cycling, playing a game or lifting weights at the gym. And it’s this focus of thought that will help improve your emotional intelligence.
Mindfulness routines – You can exercise mindfulness simply by putting your phone away for five minutes and reflecting back on the day you’ve just had. Getting into a routine can greatly improve your mental wellbeing and flexibility. So, you could choose to write down your thoughts, join a yoga and pilates class, learn to meditate or take up a new hobby. Whatever the routine, it could be what eases those mental stresses and provides greater fulfilment in your life.
Through socialising – Finding new friends and social networks can be challenging when so much of life these days in online. But sometimes taking that step to find a local sports group, coffee morning or games club might be what you need to relax your mind. Even chatting to your regular friends in person can have great wellbeing benefits.
Through reading – Reading a good book helps expand the mind and imagination, focuses one’s attention, and provides an opportunity to learn something new. Reading is a hobby many people enjoy without even realising it. Whether it’s pouring over great novels such as The Vanishing Half and Girl, Woman, Other, other discovering self-help books like Everyday Self Care, How to Relax and Resilience, taking time to read will make you feel more rested, even if it’s only for 10 minutes before bed.
Setting the scene – Creating a relaxing environment helps release stress at the end of the day. There’s nothing worse that coming back to a messy house and feeling like you’re trapped doing chores. So, spend some time tidying and arranging one area of your house for relaxation purposes. This could be the living room sofa, your bedroom or even the bathroom. Then set the scene. Lower the lighting, perhaps light some aromatherapy candles, and then go through a meditation routine or pick up a good book. You’ll be amazed how you can create ‘me time’ from simply creating a comfortable space.
Want to discover more ways to take good care of your mind and body? Explore our range of handy self-help guides in our lifestyle blog today!