We live in a world where we are constantly on the go. Whether it’s work, childcare, household chores or being on our phones, we often don’t find it easy to switch off. While some of us thrive on a busy lifestyle, we all need to take some time to relinquish the pressure we put on ourselves and just stop. Even if it’s just for a few moments a day, or while you’re doing other things, here are a few simple ways you can take it easy on yourself.
Soak in the tub – submerge yourself in warm (or hot) water with your favourite bath soaks or oils and let your arms and legs float in the water as you slip under the surface. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing, or the bubbles gently popping against the sides of the bath, put on a facemask or listen to some relaxing music and lock the door! Knowing you can’t be disturbed by kids, partners or pets will really help you to zone out.
How to fit it into your routine: twice a week, draw a bath instead of jumping in the shower
Get gripped by a great novel – the escapism of a good story can be more intense, as it inspires your imagination and can stay with you for life. There is also nothing better than putting your book down and counting away the minutes until you can pick it up again, because you have to know what happens next.
How to fit it into your routine: whenever you feel the need to check social media, or your mind drifts from the television screen, grab your book instead.
Step outside – fresh air is a tonic, whether you just sit in the garden, prune your prize roses, hike in the Peak District or run 10k on your lunch break, filling your lungs with fresh air is not only energising, but can also aid sleep. If you dress correctly for it, the weather can be an added bonus to your walk; even walking in the rain can be exhilarating, and with far less people around, a rain walk is a fantastic way to clear your mind. Exploring new places near to your home and watching the changing seasons are also a wonderful part of getting outside for some fresh air.
How to fit it into your routine: if your car journey is less than two miles, consider walking instead
Mind your mindfulness – get out of your headspace, as well as out of doors. Try not to get wrapped up in your thoughts but be aware of what the rest of your body is feeling in the moment instead. Tune into your other senses when you find your mind getting clogged; when you’re doing the dishes for example, feel the bubbly water on your hands and smell the liquid as you clean the plates. Or open a window and listen to the birds, feeling the breeze as it crosses your face.
How to fit it into your routine: instead of reading the paper with your morning cuppa, sit on the patio and watch the wind blow the leaves on the trees or the birds fluttering in and out of the bushes.
Try yoga – holding a pose and clearing your mind is a centuries-old way of boosting your physical and mental wellbeing. You don’t have to attend a class, there are thousands of online lessons and YouTube channels to subscribe to. You don’t even need to be terribly flexible to start with, for example the Shavasana pose involves you lying flat on your back with your eyes closed. It’s incredibly relaxing and really helps to clear the mind.
How to fit it into your routine: once or twice a week on your lunch hour, try 30-45 mins of poses and you’ll really feel the difference afterwards. Then dine al desko as you check your emails and ease yourself gently back into work.
Savour the flavour – and enjoy your food. Try not to eat in front of the television, sit at the dining table and really taste your meals; above all, eat things you enjoy. Allow yourself to relish every bite by taking it slowly and putting your knife and fork down between each mouthful. Make dinner a social event for everyone in your household. Even if you fancy a takeaway, get plates and cutlery and sit together to discuss the day with each other. You know the saying, a problem shared is a problem halved – taking time to talk is a great way to lift the burden and relax.
How to fit it into your routine: make a promise to each other that you eat your evening meal together at the table five days a week or try and breakfast together at the weekends when a more leisurely pace is easier to accommodate.
Clear your mind at bedtime – knowing that you’re going to have trouble getting to sleep with all the day’s thoughts and worries bouncing around in your head can be stressful. Keep a notepad by the side of your bed and jot down the thoughts that are stopping you from drifting off, then promise yourself that you will look at them the next day. This should help to clear your mind enough to let it sleep.
How to fit it into your routine: instead of that last scroll through Facebook or watching a show to help you drift off, try turning the lights down 20 minutes earlier, closing your eyes and taking time to clear your thoughts before you’re ready to sleep.
Listen to your breathing – slow it down. Take slow deep breaths, in through your nose to the count of eight, and out through a slightly opened mouth with a relaxed jaw, to the count of four. There’s a reason women in labour are taught breathing exercises, and you can try it at your desk, in the car, or before you go to bed. Calming breathing techniques are also used for coping with stress and anxiety and should be done daily to get the most out of them.
How to fit it into your routine: sit with your arms resting in your lap, close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths for three minutes.