Relax and de-stress

Realax 650 X 300The biggest survey ever conducted on the impact of stress in the UK revealed that three in four Britons have been so stressed over the last year that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Yet relaxing is something that we can all do, often for free – and it can have a positive effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. But it does take practice. We’ve compiled a list of 8 straightforward activities that you may want to try below.

1. Take a break. Take some time away from your normal routines or thoughts, even if only for a few minutes, as this will help you ‘break state’ and relieve stress. You could read a book or a magazine, run a bath, watch a film, call a friend or cook a meal.

2. Focus on your breathing. Breathing more deeply can make you feel calmer and increase your sense of wellbeing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, while keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Place your hand on your stomach; if you’re breathing deeply it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.

3. Picture yourself in a relaxing place. Think of somewhere you’ve been where you felt relaxed and peaceful. Close your eyes and use your imagination to go back there. Really concentrate on the details – what did it look like? Smell like? Sound like? Feel like? This will help your mind drift and your body relax.

4. Take some gentle exercise. Relaxation doesn’t have to mean sitting still. Gentle exercise can be very beneficial; take a walk at your own pace, stretch or perhaps even try Yoga or Pilates.

5. Use a guided relaxation exercise. There are plenty of free resources that are widely available online or via apps for your smart phone.

6. Get creative. Getting in touch with your artistic side can make you calmer and more relaxed. Try painting, drawing or crafting or baking. Try not to worry too much about the finished product; just focus on enjoying yourself.

7. Get outside. For 99% of human history, humans lived in nature as nomads and that’s why time outside in green spaces can be great for both our physical and mental wellbeing. Take a walk in the countryside or through a local park, really paying attention to what’s around you.

8. Pray. Salat provides five opportunities every day to disconnect from our everyday life, to unite mind, soul, and body in worship. A sacred time to rest, relax and experience the unconditional love of God.

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