We all know what it is like to have a stress-filled week - deadlines to meet, irascible colleagues, family squabbles and just getting through life in general. What we don't know enough about is how to set aside some time to relax so that we will be able to face the oncoming week.
Taking time-off from the stressors in life is important to maintain our mental health. It provides us with opportunities to clear our heads, take a deep breath, and refill our energy pools to take on more challenges. Often, we decide we need to time-off only when things get too hairy. However, this may be too late as it may be difficult to take a break. The accumulated stress starts creeping into our lives by making us irritable, tense, blue and just generally in a bad mood. How many of us have snapped at our partners of family members when we were stressed out?
The key is to get into the habit of taking some 'me' time regularly when we are not that stressed. That way, not only do we ensure that our energy pools are constantly filled, we also become familiar with relaxation strategies that work best for us. Thus, when we need some downtime urgently, we are able to call on these tried and tested strategies for the best relaxing results.
Not all relaxation strategies involve a lot of money, a trip to the spa or a fancy vacation. You could if you're able to afford it. Many strategies are free or obtainable at minimal cost. Here are some of quick tips and tricks.
1. Go for a walk We often overlook the power of sunlight, bright flowers and fresh air. With spring on the approach, this is the best time to soak in the sights! A quick half-hour stroll around the neighbourhood, especially if you have neighbours with green fingers, will perk up your senses and rejuvenate the mind. Stop to admire some flowers if you want, pick up a leaf or flower and admire its form, and feel free to chat up a neighbour. This is your time! Be sure to tell yourself before you set out that you will not be thinking about anything stressful. However, if these stressful thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and let them float away with the wind.
2. Girl/Guy Time Set up a home manicure/pedicure session either for yourself or with a few good girlfriends. Don't forget to send nosy partners to the pub or a mate's house to give them some 'guy' time too! There are lots of cheap and natural beauty therapies than can be found online. These usually just require household items such as sugar and olive oil (for a moisturising scrub) or avocado and honey (for a face mask). Put on some music, light some aromatherapy candles or burners, and bring on the gossip!
Guys, when your girls send you off to the pub, don't frown. Call in a few mates and have some fun of your own.
3. Relaxation box Gather materials and trinkets that calm and relax you and throw these in a pretty box for quick access. You can include scented candles (don't forget the matches!), moisturiser, cards from loved ones, postcards from your favourite vacation…the list goes on! Take the box out when need some peace and calm and go through the contents. The happy memories, luscious smells and gorgeous colours should bring peace to mind.
4. Cooking/baking If you enjoy being a domestic goddess in the kitchen, take this time to experiment with new recipes or just jazz up old ones! Put on some lively music, throw on that apron, and get busy! The plus point is that you get a really healthy meal or some decadent dessert at the end. That's killing two birds with one stone.
5. Try something crafty
Part of relaxing involves engaging in an activity that takes your mind off your worries. Look around community newsletters or online for quick crafty workshops, such as cake decorating, sock puppet making or soap crafting. The idea here is to engage the other senses and give your mind some time off from your worries. If you don't have time to get to class, you can always try some of these activities at home. There are plenty of online instructions and the materials are easily sourced from around the house. Who knows, you might even be able to make money from your hobby!