Do you find it hard to switch off? Struggling to relax?
The ability to relax is important in effectively managing stress and anxiety. When we feel stressed, our bodies react with what is called the "fight or flight" response. Our muscles become tense, our heart and respiration rates increase, and other physiological systems become taxed. Without the ability to relax, chronic stress or anxiety can lead to burnout, anger, irritability, depression, medical problems, and more. Allowing yourself to deeply relax is the exact opposite of the "fight or flight" response, resulting in a decrease in heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and oxygen consumption.
Mind, the Mental Health Charity suggests exploring relaxation can help you look after yourself when you’re feeling stressed or worried. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you, just enjoy the ones that do.
How to introduce relaxation into your life
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts can be a great place to start when introducing relaxation into your life:
Mindfulness training teaches how to pay attention in the present moment. Mindfulness training gives you tools to help you remain calm, sustain your attention and be able to focus more consistently and appropriately in the face of demands and pressure. It also covers various breathing exercises which you can use if you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
To find out more about mindfulness and to access some mindfulness exercises check out our mindfulness pages.
Create a relaxing evening routine
See our section on sleep for more info.
Reading generally but particularly in the evening is a helpful way to relax. Put away your phone, your studies and other distractions and try reading a good book. Reading for fun is important, but a good place to start might be these useful books on relaxation:
- Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing (available in LJMU library)
- Teach Yourself Relaxation Techniques, Alice Muir, 2010
- The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and Matthew McKay, New Harbinger Publications, 2008
- Perfect Relaxation, Elaine Van Der Zeil, RH Books, 2010
Manage your time and make time for relaxation
Doing too much of anything can cause stress and make it hard to find time for relaxation. Try to look at your day and week and see where you are spending too much time on any one thing. Even spending too much time studying can increase stress. Try breaking your time into chunks and do quality study in these chunks. Make time for relaxation in your daily and weekly routine. Reflect and find what works for you.
Access support at LJMU
LJMU have a team of Wellbeing Advisors who can help and support you and, provide a listening ear, recommending ways to help you relax and plan your time to incorporate relaxation.
Enrol on the SAW Canvas course for workshops on a range of wellbeing topics.
There are lots of sources of support and inspiration for relaxation out there, check out these we have hand picked:
- Mind Relaxation
- NHS Inform relaxation techniques
- Start2 is an online wellbeing resource that uses art and creative activities to boost your health. Start2 is full of ideas that anyone and everyone can enjoy regardless of experience of doing creative activity.
- The NHS choices website offers ways to reduced stress, focusing on relaxed breathing and deep muscle relaxation as well as other links and articles.
- Get help
*If you need support specific to the current COVID-19 health crisis, please visit student support.