Relaxation

Tips and exercises to help you relax.

Your stories

Learning to relax

Jemima from Mind blogs about our relaxation tips to combat stress and anxiety.

Posted on 03/05/2013

Stress...depress...decompress

Jessica blogs about her experience of stress and how she has found ways of coping.

Jessica Carmody
Posted on 05/11/2014

How dancing helped me cope

Shalini, one of our Happy Monday ambassadors, blogs about how dancing helped her through tough times

Shalini
Posted on 07/03/2014

How could relaxation help me?

Exploring relaxation can help you look after yourself when you’re feeling stressed or worried. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do:

Take a break

Relaxation doesn’t have to take up lots of your time. Just stepping away from something stressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughts can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer.

  • Read a book or a magazine, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Run yourself a bath, watch a film, play with a pet or try out a new recipe.

 

Focus on your breathing

Learning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer.

  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
  • Count as you breathe. Start by counting 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe in and 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe out. Try to work out what’s comfortable for you.

 

Spend time in nature

Spending time outside and in green spaces can be great for your physical and mental health.

  • Take a walk in the countryside or through a local park, taking time to notice trees, flowers, plants and animals you see on the way. See our page on relaxation exercises for a guided mindful moment in nature.
  • Spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that’s digging in your own garden or taking part in a local green project. You can find projects and outdoor activities to suit whatever level of mobility you have. See our pages on ecotherapy for more information about how to find projects in your area.

 

Do a tech check

Technology can be great for helping you feel connected, but if you’re using it a lot then it can contribute to making you feel busy and stressed. Taking a break (even a short one) can help you relax.

  • Try turning your phone off for an hour (or a whole day if you’re feeling brave).
  • Step away from the TV, or have an evening where you don’t check emails or social networks. Use the time to do something relaxing – you could try some of the ideas above.

Try active relaxation

Relaxation doesn’t have to mean sitting still – gentle exercise can help you relax too.

  • Take a walk, going at your own pace. You might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed.
  • Look for a class you'd like to try, such as yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching.

See our page on physical activity and mental health for more tips.

If you're interested in getting more active to support your mental health, take a look at our Get Set to Go campaign to find out more about how you can get active in your local area.

 

Get creative

Getting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel more calm and relaxed.

  • Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing.
  • Try not to worry too much about the finished product – just focus on enjoying yourself.

See our page on relaxation exercises for more ideas on how to use creative activities to relax.

 

Listen to music

Music can relax you, connect you to your emotions and distract you from worrying thoughts.

  • Listen to your favourite songs. Turn up the volume and dance or sing along, or put your headphones on and close your eyes.
  • Really listen to the music. Can you pick out different instruments? Can you hear a drum beat or a certain rhythm? Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away.

 

Picture yourself somewhere serene

Even if you can’t physically get away, your imagination can transport you to somewhere you feel calm.

  • Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory of somewhere you’ve been, or a place you have imagined.
  • Close your eyes, and think about the details of this place. What does it look like – what kind of colours and shapes can you see? Can you hear any sounds? Is it warm or cool? Let your mind drift and your body relax.

Making space in your life for relaxation is only one part of managing your mental health. Our pages on coping with stress and anxiety have more suggestions for ways to help yourself.

If you're finding things very hard right now and the tips on this page don't feel possible, it is ok to ask for help. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for guidance on talking to your doctor about options for support and treatment.

For more support and suggestions, if you're:

 


This information was published in October 2017 – to be revised in 2020. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.


Relaxation

 

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