How to easily relax and unwind (without relocating to Bali)

Shout out to all you overachieving machines who find it difficult to switch off, relax and unwind! This one’s for you if you feel exhausted by Friday and have NO CLUE how to decompress.

It’s a love letter to anyone who knows that they are feeling stressed or anxious ( especially if it feels like you “don’t have time to relax”).

Why is it so difficult to switch off and unwind?  Think about it. What’s your default setting? If your life is usually a high octane whirlwind, it can be really difficult to hit reset.  That’s why it’s so important to create rituals to cue your body and mind for relaxation.

In this post, I’m going to share some of my favourite go-tos that I use to support clients who are feeling stressed, anxious and are experiencing difficulty relaxing.

Why is it so important to relax anyway?

Without getting too science-y on you, our bodies rev up when we are under pressure.  Stress hormones are activated when there is a perceived threat on the horizon. However, unlike long ago, we usually don’t get to discharge that tension by running away from a predator.  That’s why we can often experience physical symptoms like shoulder pain when we feel stressed.

Therefore, we need to actively find ways to relax our bodies and minds.  In other words, chilling out should be a top priority on your to-do list.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but by taking time out to relax, you will probably become more productive in the the long run!

Think about it, if you are feeling exhausted and stressed, how likely is it that you are performing at your peak?  Keep reading to find out how to relax. Ultimately it will help you to function at an optimal level!

  1. Carve out time for relaxation

This isn’t about joining an ashram or sending six months in Bali finding yourself.  It’s about taking a little bit of time out for yourself. Make this a non-negotiable.  If you think you haven’t got time for this, can you afford to be out of action for a few months?  I don’t want to scare you, but if you don’t take time out to relax and unwind you could burn out. That doesn’t have to happen.

Think about the micro time-wasters that you hardly notice.  They can really add up. Track how you are really spending your time.  Is it REALLY necessary to keep checking your email/newsfeed/pan out in front of the telly every evening?  We all do those things sometimes, but they are not actually helping you to relax.

I want you to think of ONE way you could claw back five minutes out of your daily schedule for yourself.

  1. Set a reminder

Grab your phone (especially if you’re constantly glued to it).  Set an alarm to remind you to take time out. Make it non-negotiable.  Next, we’re going to look at WHAT you are going to do to relax.

  1. Generate a list of activities that appeal to you.

This is called Pleasant Event Scheduling.  It’s used a lot as a treatment for depression.  It can also help you when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed because you are taking time out for yourself.  By simply taking time out to unwind and relax, it can help you to fight frazzle and be more productive and focused.

You can go old-school on this, or go for the digi version.  Either way set a timer for five minutes. You’re about to brain dump.

The retro approach

Grab some post its and a pen (or a scrap of paper and the eyeliner at the bottom of your bag).   Scribble down ways to relax that appeal to you until the timer goes off. Include things you have always been meaning to get around to. Keep it simple. Pop them in a jar.  Every day pick out one activity. If you select something that you can’t achieve that day, for example, having a back massage, make an appointment so that you have it to look forward to.    

The digi version

Download the Positive Activity Jackpot App.  It’s available for free on the Google Play store.

Related post: Stuck for ideas? Read this post for inspo on how to soothe your senses and relax.

  1. Take Action

Pick an activity from your jar/using the Positive Activity Jackpot.  Go and do it.

Feel free to nudge the outcome in your favour.  You don’t have to leave this up to fate/chance. If after generating your list of activities, you’re drawn to do something relaxing/fun straight away, go for it!  

  1. Repeat step 4 daily.  

Remember that even if it seems like you’ve heard some of this before, it’s about TAKING ACTION.  Otherwise it won’t work!

What are YOUR go-tos to help you to chill out when you are feeling stressed?

Listen to my guided Progressive Muscle Relaxation audio

If you have any suggestions that you could share that could help others to relax and unwind, I’d love to hear them.