Relax your body
How will this help?
When you are stressed, your muscles might be tight and tense. This exercise helps you notice tension in your body and relax your muscles.
What do I need?
- Somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down
- Space where you will not be interrupted
What do I do?
- Lie down or sit with your back straight and your feet on the floor.
- Close your eyes or focus on a spot in the distance.
- Start by clenching your toes as much as you can for a few seconds, then releasing them. Notice the difference between the two feelings.
- Match this to your breathing. Tense your muscles as you take a deep breath in, and relax as you breathe out.
- Move up your body, clenching and relaxing each muscle. Take time to notice any parts of your body that feel tense, tight or tired.
- You can repeat if you still feel tense. Take a moment to relax, then slowly and gently begin to move.
- When you feel ready, you can stand up slowly.
Instead of tensing your muscles, try placing something warm on different parts of your body.
How will this help?
Colour, creativity and movement can help you feel relaxed by distracting you from worrying thoughts, giving you an outlet and focus for your emotions and stimulating your senses.
What do I need?
- A table or desk
- Some blank paper
- Some crayons, coloured pencils or pens
- Some sticky tape or masking tape to hold your paper down (optional)
What do I do?
Make sure you are sitting comfortably with your feet firmly on the floor, your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
Take your paper and crayon, and draw a circle that fills most of the page – do not worry if it isn’t perfect.
“Exploring relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you’re feeling stressed or busy.”
“Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do.”
For more resources on relaxation, check out Mind HK’s website.
Take a break
Relaxation doesn’t have to take up lots of your time – just stepping away from something stressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughts can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer:
- Read a book or a magazine, even if it is only for a few minutes.
- Run yourself a bath, watch a film, play with your pet or try out a new recipe.
Focus on your breathing
Learning to breathe more deeply can make you feel a lot calmer and increase your sense of wellbeing.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
- Count as you breathe – start by counting to 4 as you breathe in, and again to 4 as you breathe out, then work out what is comfortable for you.
Listen to music
Music can relax you, connect you to your emotions and distract you from worrying thoughts.
- Listen to your favourite songs. Turn up the volume and dance or sing along, or put your headphones on and close your eyes.
- Really listen to the music. Can you pick out different instruments? Can you hear a drumbeat or a certain rhythm? Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away.
Picture yourself somewhere serene
Even if you cannot physically get away, your imagination can transport you to somewhere you feel calm.
- Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory of somewhere you have been, or a place you have imagined.
- Close your eyes, and think about the details of this place. What does it look like? What kind of colours and shapes can you see? Can you hear any sounds? Is it warm or cool? Let your mind drift and your body relax.
Try active relaxation
Relaxation does not have to mean sitting still – gentle exercise can help you relax too.
- Look for a class like yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching.
- Take a walk, going at your own pace. You might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed.
Getting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel more calm and relaxed.
- Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing
- Try not to worry too much about the finished product, and focus on enjoying yourself
Spend time in nature
Spending time outside and in green spaces can be great for your physical and mental wellbeing.
- Take a hike or a walk through nature or through a local park, taking time to notice trees, flowers, plants and animals you see on the way.
- Spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that is growing plants on your windowsill or balcony at home or taking part in a local green project. You can find projects and outdoor activities to suit whatever level of mobility you have.
Do a technology check
Technology can be great for helping you feel connected, but if you are using it a lot then it can contribute to making you feel busy and stressed. Taking a break, even a short one, can help you relax.
- Try turning your phone off for an hour (or a whole day if you are feeling brave).
- Step away from the TV, or have an evening where you do not check emails or social networks. Use the time to do something relaxing – try some of the ideas above.