Relaxing sounds simple in theory, but many people struggle to actually do it. Maybe you find yourself counting scrolling Twitter or watching TV for a few hours as relaxation when it’s more stressful than restful. Or perhaps you’re trying to force yourself to do activities that are supposed to relax you (like meditating or taking a bubble bath) but just end up feeling frustrated, stressed, or bored.
One of the best things you can do to feel calm is to focus on your breath. Sit in a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and bring your attention to the rhythm of your breath, letting each inhale and exhale ease your shoulders. You can also count as you breathe, with ‘one, two, three, four’ as a good starting point. This is a form of mindfulness meditation, and research has found that it can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Another helpful technique is to work on progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing each group of muscles in your body, from your toes all the way up to your head. This can be done while lying down or sitting, and is especially effective in a quiet place where you won’t get interrupted.
Finally, you can try visualization or finding your happy place, which involves thinking about a place that makes you feel calm. You can even think about the details associated with that place, such as the sight of a calm beach, the sound of the sea, the smell of the water and sunscreen, and the feel of the gritty sand under your feet.