Learn how to relax

Mental Health and Wellness
Learn how to relax

Learning to relax and gently calm yourself is important for both your physical body as well as your mental and emotional state.  It helps us effectively manage stress and anxiety, lessens muscle tension, decreases heart and respiration rates.  Some other benefits include increased energy, improved concentration and increased self-esteem.

Here are several simple relaxation and self-soothing techniques.  These ideas are meant to help you find calmness, so if one doesn’t work for you, try another.  We’re all different in what helps us feel relaxed. The key is to practice using those methods that work best for you.

  • Burn scented candles or incense in your room or house; find a scent that’s pleasing to you.

  • Lie down in your local park and smell the grass and outdoor smells.

  • Buy fresh-cut flowers.

  • Cook or bake your own food that has a pleasing smell, like chocolate-chip cookies. 

  • Find a place that’s soothing for you to look at, like a park or a museum.  Or find a picture of a place, like the beach, mountains or forest.

  • Draw or paint your own picture that’s pleasing to you.

  • Pick up an adult coloring book and let your inner “little kid” have some fun. 

  • Listen to soothing music; go to a music store and listen to a variety of genres to determine what helps you relax. 

  • Listen to books on tape: Audible and Amazon are two options for apps that can be downloaded on your phone; you can then choose from many categories/authors.

  • Open your window and listen to peaceful sounds outside.

  • Listen to recording of relaxation exercises, i.e., guided imagery/guided meditation. These exercises will help you imagine yourself relaxing in a variety of ways. 

  • Listen to the sound of ocean waves, trickling water through a stream or visit a local waterfall. 

  • Drink something soothing such as herbal tea or chilled water with lemon; practice drinking it slowly so you can enjoy the way it tastes. 

  • Take a warm bubble bath or bath with scented oils and enjoy the soothing sensations on your skin.

  • Get a massage.

  • Play with your pet.

  • Put on your most comfortable clothes, like your favorite t-shirt, sweat pants or sweat shirt. 

After creating a list of relaxation techniques that fits for you, consider keeping it in places where you’ll frequently see it (on your fridge, above your desk, on bathroom mirror) and also carry a copy with you.  This will make it easier to relax and soothe yourself when feeling overwhelmed.   

And remember, as with any new skills you are learning, practice is important as well as finding what works best for you.  Practice using different tools until you find the ones that work for you.