anxiety · mental health

How I Relax 

Finding ways to calm myself and step outside busy times in my life are important for me especially when I’m struggling to get my anxiety under control. Over the years I’ve found things that help me to relax when my head feels just a little too full. 

Exercise: Exercise is a really important aspect of life and should be in your daily to-do list anyway but it can be particularly helpful to exercise to improve your mood and help you relax. For me walking is the most effective as I focus on what my body is physically doing. I stick on a good playlist and can spend up to an hour walking, sometimes at different paces, sometimes in sun, sometimes in rain. Likewise, if I’m feeling particularly wound up or irritated that day I find a more hardcore workout more effective. These workouts usuall last 15-20 minutes and involve sit ups, crunches, squats, press ups, plank and stretches. A 15 minute blast a night is all I need to help release my pent up frustration from that day’s events.

Drawing: As an art student drawing is a large part of my life and although I can find it stressful at times it really does help me calm down. Drawing for myself is usually more effective or working on a piece I really enjoy. As an artist you will have to do things you find frustrating or that are for a specific brief. I try to stay away from these when I draw to relax my mind as I often feel under pressure. Instead I draw something I’ve really wanted to try and I allow myself to make mistakes with it. 

Meditating: Meditation is something I’ve got into recently. I started by trying yoga, simply following along with tutorials on YouTube but I realised I liked the meditation part a lot more with minimal movement. I found this a lot more relaxing as I was solely concentrating on breathing and emptying my mind than what my body should physically be doing. Meditation helps a lot with my back and shoulder pain too as I hold a lot of tension there. It is an easy and cheap way to fix shoulder issues and relax your body and mind all at once! 

Reading: After my 2 year reading block I’ve finally got back into reading and I’m really enjoying the books I read. I have quite a range of genres I’m interested in so for me it’s relatively easy to pick up a book and get stuck in but for others I realise this isn’t the case. Sometimes it’s about finding the right book for you. If you struggle to read large books choose shorter ones, find an author you like and make your way through those books, you could even try some self care books as I own a few of these and they’ve helped me stop and be aware of the moment I’m in. There are so many stories out there that can transport you somewhere else aware from the business of your life. Sometimes just sitting in your favourite chair in the quiet can help! 

Playing with pets: If you have a pet of any kind and are having a particularly rough day spending time with them can really help change your mood. I’m lucky enough to have 2 dogs that can put a smile on my face. Animals are usually pretty good at picking up human emotion and often know when you need some quiet time. One of my dogs is pretty crazy and runs for the nearest toy every time I set foot outside but if I feel down they both tend to sit quietly with me to pet them. Pets can be very loving and it’s definitely nice to spend some quality time with them.

Writing: I’m still waiting for the day I think of a best selling novel and actually get past page 2 but until then I will most likely write short stories or continue writing in my journal. Journaling is a very handy way to get thoughts down on paper and out of your head. It makes me feel so much calmer and I feel I can deal with my feelings more easily. There are also so many different types of journaling you could try. I’ve stuck with writing a date and following it with my thoughts and feelings at that time as its how I’ve always done it but I’ve been quite intrigued to start a bullet journal as I love organisation! Art journaling is helpful too, it can be very free and incorporate writing and imagery. If you’d like to start journaling do some research into the types of journals out there and find one you’d like to try! 


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