Relax

Key messages:

Taking time to relax has some important health benefits including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression, improving sleep and reducing chronic pain.

Most of us are familiar with stress – for most of us it happens every day.

Stress can be good (we get things done and can feel motivated when there’s a little bit of stress), but for many people it goes over the tipping point into too much stress. We don’t feel great when we’re too stressed, and it can be harmful to our health if it goes on for too long.

Research shows we have about 70 000 thoughts a day (that’s about one every second). Research also shows that about 80% of our thoughts are negative, so shifting these thoughts to more positive thoughts or finding some way of creating some peaceful times is really important!

Here are some proven things that can help shift the balance and reduce stress. If you do them on a regular basis you’re likely to see some significant benefits to your wellbeing.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is where you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, images, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

Box breathing, where you breathe in and out regularly and generally hold your breath for a second or two before and after each breath is a really simple exercise which can reduce stress and can be done nearly anywhere. Just a few minutes a day can help reduce pain, anxiety and depression.

Here’s one easy box breathing exercise:

Daily time of stillness

Having a bit of quiet away from things even for 5 minutes in the day can be really helpful for focussing. You could spend this time reading, meditating, praying or being mindful.

Gratitude

Spending just 5 minutes every day writing out 3 things you’re grateful has measurable benefits on nearly every aspect of life including happiness, sense of satisfaction and sleep. Why not give this a go?

"Gratitude rewires our naturally negative brains to positive,

Breaks the grip of rumination,

Creates an upward spiral of positive thought,

Increases wellbeing, and

Has a ripple effect increasing the wellbeing of those around us"

Barbara Fredrickson

Screenless Time

Social media is one of the biggest challenges to our wellbeing at the moment. Finding ways to detox from mobile devices and computers generally has never been more important. This could include:

  • Bed time - Leaving your mobile outside the bedroom
  • Better sleep - Removing TVs from your bedroom (it’ll also improve your body’s ability to get to sleep – see the Sleep section)
  • Device detox - Have a device detox day where you leave it switched off for a half day or a full day
  • Screen-free meals - Leaving mobile devices out of reach if you sit down for a meal with friends or family