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Published on March 31, 2020

How to Relax, Unwind and Reduce Stress

How to Relax, Unwind and Reduce Stress

Many of us work hard to achieve a successful career. We spend years in school, and then get a good paying job that we think will bring us a comfortable life. Then one day we realize that all we seem to do is work and have forgotten how to relax.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and trying to attain a comfortable living. The problem that many of us have is that we don’t maintain a good work-life balance. We know how to work, but we don’t know how to unwind and enjoy life when we’re not.

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” ~ Mark Black

In this article, I’m going to show you how to relax with some simple and enjoyable activities, so you can find more peace and balance in your life.

Why Should You Relax?

Some of the reasons for relaxing may be obvious. You will feel more calm and at ease, and less stressed out. Some of the less obvious reasons are improvements in your health.

Relaxation can have a significant impact on your health. Some of the benefits are lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease, fewer digestive problems, and more. Relaxation can also help you think more clearly, which leads to better decision-making and improved memory.

Overall, your quality of life will be much better. You’ll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Through the course of your life, you will preserve your good health as long as possible. That is, you’ll live longer, healthier, and happier.

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Unwinding Is Easy

Relaxing and unwinding is easier than you might think. It is actually more normal for you to be relaxed than stressed out. You see, if we leave our mind alone, it will naturally slow down. It is much like driving your car down the road. Take your foot off the accelerator, and eventually the car will slow down to a crawl.

The problem is that we never leave our mind alone. We’re always agitating it through our various activities and background noise. Relaxing and unwinding is a process. It takes a little time of reduced sensory stimulation.

How to Relax

As you’ll see, most of the suggestions below revolve around doing less, or diverting your attention to more pleasant things. They will help slow down your mind and give you a break from the things that cause you stress.

1. Take a Warm Bath

A warm bath has several benefits. It will help you relax physically and mentally. The warm water will relax your muscles and relieve tension and soreness.

In addition, the quiet environment will help calm your mind and improve your mood. By promoting both physical and mental relaxation, the warm bath will help you sleep better, which reduces stress and anxiety.[1]

2. Take up a Hobby

Get involved in your favorite hobby, preferably one that is relaxing. The ones that are most relaxing are passive activities, such as watching television, reading a book, or listening to some soothing music.

The important thing about choosing a hobby is doing something you love. This will help you divert your attention from the things that cause you stress, and give your attention to things that bring you joy and happiness.

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Remember, your job is only one aspect of your life. Its purpose is to provide you with the things you need to survive and that bring you fulfillment. Don’t neglect the latter.[2]

3. Create a Bedtime Ritual

Before turning in for the night is an ideal time to relax and unwind. It is a time we associate with tending to our personal needs, a time for rest after a busy day. The important aspect of a bedtime ritual is repetition. This will train your mind to automatically go into a relaxed state as you begin your ritual.[3]

Here is a sample bedtime ritual to unwind: Turn down the lights; maybe light a candle. Climb in bed and feel the cool sheets on your body. As you sit there, take a few mindful breaths to begin calming your thoughts. Read a few passages from an inspirational book, and take a few moments to savor the wisdom and beauty of the reading. Turn off the lights, get comfortable in your bed, and go to sleep.[4]

4. Take a Bathroom Break

It’s amazing how much a bathroom break can help you relax. I think there a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s easy to give ourselves permission to go to the bathroom. Second, by closing the door behind us, we can shut out the world for just a few minutes.

The great thing about a bathroom break is that we can do it anytime, and by nature, most of the things we do in the bathroom are relaxing.

5. Go Outside

Like a bathroom break, going outside can get us away from the busy world for a few minutes. The fresh air and change of scenery can help us clear our mind.[5] In addition, seeing the rest of the world helps us put things into a larger perspective. It helps us see beyond our own busy lives.

So, go outside: smell the fresh air, listen to the birds sing, admire the beauty of the trees and flowers, and just take it all in.

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6. Spend Time With Loved Ones

For many of us, our family and friends bring us a great deal of joy and fulfillment. Spending time with them helps us relax and unwind, especially after a busy day.

When spending time with loved ones, it’s important to make sure you are fully present. Don’t let your job or your troubles dominate your attention when you are with them. It is truly disheartening when you are with a loved one whose mind is somewhere else. This simply creates more stress and conflict in the family.

7. Take a Vacation

One of the best ways to relax and unwind is to take a vacation. Make sure it is a real vacation, that is, at least a week or two long. It can take several days for you to get your mind off work.

Another aspect of a good vacation is that you go some place you’ve never been to before. The reason for this is that unfamiliar surroundings force your mind to be in the present moment, which can help you relax.

On the other hand, if you have a place that you really love and where you have an easy time relaxing, then by all means go there. The important thing is that you’re able to forget about work for a few days.

It is also a good idea to go some place where there isn’t cell phone reception, or at least keep your phone off and put away most of the time you are on your vacation. It’s hard for many of us to get away from our mobile devices, which are a source of mental agitation.

And last but not least, make sure you relax while you’re on your vacation. Don’t schedule a bunch of activities that will keep you busy your entire vacation. Schedule in some quiet time to relax and unwind. You don’t want to go back home needing a few days to recuperate from your vacation.

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8. Try Meditation

Meditation is a powerful tool to help you relax. A recent study found that just 15 minutes of meditation is the equivalent of one day of vacation in helping you relax.[6] Now, that is pretty amazing!

There are various forms of meditation. The one I recommend is mindfulness meditation. I like mindfulness meditation because the practice is simple, robust, and flexible. You can use it to fit your schedule and suit your lifestyle.

The other great thing about mindfulness meditation is that it is non-religious, so you don’t have to adhere to any religion or doctrine. All you basically have to do is sit quietly for a few minutes and follow your breath. You don’t have to do it perfectly, and you don’t have to meditate for long periods to get the benefits.

There are lots of resources for learning mindfulness meditation, such as books, CDs, and articles. Find a resource that actually teaches you the techniques.

Final Thoughts

On our path to a successful career, most of us are never taught how to relax and unwind. We learn all about our field of study and how to be successful in our careers, but rarely are we taught how to be successful in life.

A successful life consists of a good work-life balance. It’s important to work hard at something we like and be able to relax and not let our work consume our whole lives. We need to learn how to enjoy our lives along the way. If we don’t, then what is the whole point of working so hard?

If you want more balance in your life, then make relaxation a part of your routine. Not only will you feel better, but you will also be more productive and gain more satisfaction from your work and your personal life.

More Tips on Relaxation

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Charles A. Francis

Author, meditation teacher, and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute

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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

Affordable, relaxing, and healthy, oil diffusers are gaining popularity with people everywhere due to their extensive benefits. Oil diffusers work through the simple process of oil diffusion, which uses heat to turn oil into a vapor that is then spread around a living space. Diffused oil can have several relaxation and health-related benefits, including safe scent-dispersion, mosquito and mold defense, stress relief, and more!

Read on for 11 hidden benefits of using oil diffusers.

1. Safe Scents That Make Sense

Unlike candles or air fresheners, oil diffusers release cleansing molecules into your air that work to purify it, not overload it with unhealthy chemicals. Electronic diffusers also do not pose the fire risk that candles do. Plus, they contain the added feature of interchangeability, which means you change oil types for different scents and health benefits.

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2. Stress Relief

Several lab studies have confirmed that diffusing essential oils like lavender have been shown to reduce stress and help relieve anxiety in medical patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that oil diffusers can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

3. Improved Sleep

Diffused oil has relaxing properties that can help people of all ages fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. Electronic diffusers not only have the option to mix and match different oil blends (Try a lavender, Bulgarian rose, and Roman chamomile blend to help with insomnia), they also run at a gentle hum that helps relax an agitated mind. Many also come with an auto shut-off feature to help conserve oils once you have fallen asleep.

4. Appetite Control

Much like gum, oil diffusers can help stimulate the senses in a way that works to curb appetite. New research has shown that diffused peppermint oil can help curb appetite by inducing a satiety response within the body. Diffused peppermint oil has also been shown to increase energy.

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5. Bacteria and Mold Killing

When essential oils are diffused in the air, they break down free radicals that contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Eucalyptus, thyme, and tea tree oils are especially good for this purpose. Diffused oil is also highly effective when it comes to combating fungal yeast threats, as the oil help makes the air inhospitable for yeasts such as mold. Pine and red thyme essential oils are best for combating mold.

6. Decongestion and Mucus Control

Ever tried Vick’s Vapo-Rub? Its decongesting powers come from active ingredients made from the eucalyptus tree. In principle, oil diffusers work the same way as Vapo-Rub, except they diffuse their decongesting vapor all around the room, not just on your chest or neck. Oil diffusers have been known to cure pneumonia in lab mice.

7. Mosquito Repellant

Nobody likes mosquitoes — but when the trade-off means using repellants full of DEET, a toxic chemical that can be especially harmful to children, mosquito control can often seem like a lose-lose. However, scientists have shown that oil diffusers can be used as a safe and highly effective mosquito repellant. Studies have shown that a diffused oil mixture containing clove essential oil and lemongrass essential oil repelled one type of Zika-carrying mosquito, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, at a rate of 100%.

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8. Pain Relief

While applying oils directly to areas of your body may be the most effective way to alleviate pain, diffusing essential oils can also be an effective means of pain relief. When we inhale healthy essential oils, they enter our blood stream and can help internally relieve persistent pain from headaches, overworked muscles, and sore joints.

9. The New Anti-Viral

Research into the anti-viral effects of oil diffusion is now just gaining steam. A recent study showed that star anise essential oil was proven in medical experiments to destroy the herpes simplex virus in contained areas at a rate of 99%. Another study showed the popular DoTerra oil blend OnGuard to have highly-effective influenza-combating powers.

10. Improved Cognitive Function

Diffusing essential oils has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Many essential oils have adaptogenic qualities, which can work twofold in soothing us when we’re stressed, and giving our bodies a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down or sluggish. By working to level out an imbalanced mood, diffused oils also help us to focus. There are also several essential oils which have been shown to help balance the body’s hormones. With prolonged use, these oils can work to repair the underlying causes responsible for hindering cognitive function.

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11. Money Saving

With ten clear benefits of oil diffusers already outlined, there is one more that should now be obvious: using an oil diffuser will help you to save money. As an anti-viral, bug repelling, and stress-relief solution rolled into one safe product, an oil diffuser used with the proper oils will save you money on products you might otherwise be buying to help cure those pesky headaches or get your kids to fall asleep on time. If you’re wondering just how affordable oil diffusers can be, check the buyer’s guide to the best oil diffusers — you’ll be sure to find one that fits your budget!

Featured photo credit: Jopeel Quimpo via unsplash.com

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