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  • Writer's pictureDr Emma Hormoz

How can I make relaxation less stressful?

Life seems to be speeding up. Whether it is the context of more demands in a difficult socio-economic climate, life demands that change with age stages or simply trying to fit everything in… time is limited. So how to we add time to relax into this busy mix?

Just as we need to eat and sleep, we need to take time out to relax in order to function well. Relaxation can help with reducing stress, anxiety and anger levels and help with sleep difficulties. There are endless ways we can relax and here are some basic examples…

  • Listening to calming music

  • Going for a walk

  • Reading

  • Having a long bath

  • Deep breathing

Whatever the activity, it’s good to allow yourself regular relaxation time throughout the week.

It can be helpful to reflection on any changes in your anxiety levels before and after you try new relaxation activities as a way to review what relaxation exercises work best for you. Sometimes people can find it helpful to rate their anxiety or stress levels from 0-10 (0 being no stress and 10 being the most stress you have ever felt). You can then see if you notice any reduction in your stress level after trying a new relaxation exercise.

Tip: The rule of 3 - Always try any new activity at least 3 times to give it a far chance to see if it might be helpful for you.

What are the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of relaxation? For a person who often feels anxious, relaxation can be difficult at first, as when we stop and focus on our body we are more likely to notice the feelings of anxiety.

Remember relaxation is a skill, we cannot decide to relax and expect instant results, we must

practise, practise, practise - the more we practise the better and the faster we are able to relax. For this reason, it can be helpful to first practise relaxation techniques when we are feeling less anxious and more relaxed, as learning any new skill when we are anxious can make it more difficult. By practising you will find you will even be able to relax under stressful circumstances.

Also, as with any skill it is important to practise; some suggest choosing two allotted times a day to practise, (at least in the beginning) this new skill. For example, in the mornings, and before going to bed. While relaxing, ensure you find yourself somewhere quite to relax, somewhere you will not be disturbs by noise, people or phones. Try to find a comfortable position (sitting or lying down), and feel free to change positions if needed. Try to make a decision to worry later, after the relaxation exercise and allow yourself to focus on this one task. Do not expect to feel relaxed right away, allow yourself to complete the task without the pressure of trying to monitor how you are feeling.

3 easy steps for relaxation
1. chose a time 2. chose an activity 3. create your mood out of 10 4. do the relaxation task 5. rate your mood again

Now, go and find the calm in the chaos...

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