I don’t know about you, but relaxing is one of the hardest things for me to do. Even on those no-nothing days when I lounge around and do absolutely nothing but play Pokemon on my Switch and binge-watch movies all day, I still can’t fully relax. In the back of my head, all I do is stress about work, my future, all the embarrassing mistakes from the past, and my general anxiety over most things. My version of relaxation is overstimulating my brain to the point where I don’t have time to overthink, and truth be told, that’s not really relaxing. Scrolling through TikTok, playing whatever FPS has my attention that week, and watching whatever game is on that night simultaneously is not relaxing. In all honesty, it’s more like I’m distracting myself from my anxiety.
Take A Deep Breath
Taking a deep breath or multiple deep breaths is, without a doubt, the easiest thing you can do to relax. I try to start my days off with breathing exercises. I don’t even get out of bed immediately anymore. The key is to focus on feeling your chest rise and fall with every inhale and exhale. I lay my hands on my chest and take deep breaths while counting to three. When I’m feeling stressed or can’t relax during my downtime, I do simple breathing exercises like the one stated above to trick my brain into stopping overthinking. It’s taken a while, but I’m getting there.
I carry my stress in my neck and shoulders, and I look like the hunchback of Notre Dame on really stressful days. The worst part is that I never realize it until I wake up in the morning with a kink in my neck, and putting a shirt on is harder than running a half marathon. What I like to do to relieve tension in my body is to lie down somewhere comfortable and flex one part of my body at a time and slowly relax it. I can’t afford to get a massage whenever my neck and shoulders feel wound up, so I try my best to relieve the stress. The gym also works wonders. Who knew lifting heavy weights repeatedly could reduce physical tension and mental stress as much as it does?
Go For A Walk
I love going for a hot girl walk every night with my dog. There’s something nice about walking by the river in the sun or rain that boosts my spirits. Stress spirals me down overthinking rabbit holes, but going on a simple twenty-minute walk with my dog and being present in the moment makes a difference. I’m not one to go on a hike on the weekend. (Frankly, I don’t get the appeal of hikes. Send me a postcard of the view from the top of the mountain. It’s enough for me.) But going on a small little city walk with a cup of tea and watching my ten-pound wiener dog jump from puddle to puddle brings me joy and helps me relax.
Focus On The Good
Stress spirals me down dark rabbit holes, and I tend to focus on all the bad things instead of the good. I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person. It feels against my nature to think about the good things that happen during my day. So, encouraged by my therapist, I force myself to think of the positive. I journal every day (cause writing for a living isn’t enough), and I write about my day and all the funny and annoying things that happen throughout it.
At the end of a journal, I always list three good things that happened to me throughout the day. It can be as simple as my dog being excited to see me when I get home or eating a really delicious sandwich. It doesn’t matter. I write the good things as a reminder that all the anxiety and stress are temporary if I focus on the good.
Relaxation > Stress
If we could all spend the rest of our lives on a tropical beach sipping piña coladas and enjoying year-round sunlight, we would all be stress-free and probably much happier. Sadly, we can’t do that, so we need to find little moments in our day and lives to combat stress and feed our relaxation. Relaxing during downtime doesn’t happen unless you teach yourself how to stop stressing over work and life when possible. Otherwise, you’ll be consumed by your stress and turn into a ball of tension. Learn to stop and smell the roses.