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5 Ways to Relax

The last couple of weeks have been really tough on me. I've been stressed, extremely anxious, and I've just generally been having a rough time. When it has been the weekend and I can justify having a little time to myself, I've been making sure I have a chance to just be lazy and do something that is either mindless and gives me an opportunity to just zone out for a little while, or something more constructive that is still worthwhile but not too strenuous. I am 100% *that* person who will choose to have a lazy day then later that evening or the next day, I hate myself for it and feel guilty. So to counteract that and to use my time wisely, I've been trying to fall in love again with some old pastimes and just generally making sure I look after myself so mentally, I'm ready to face the next week coming my way. Because I've been so active with this lately and because it's the grey and dark time of the year that always has a negative knock-on effect on peoples' moods, I thought I'd share some ideas on how to keep your chin up and feel like you've given yourself some pamper time - even if you only have an hour or two available.

Read a book with a nice cup of tea.
This has got to be one of my most favourite things to do. I love a good cuppa any time of the day, multiple times a day, but knowing you can just sit down and enjoy a warm cosy drink with a good story takes it to a new level. Reading is something I really enjoy but unfortunately it always gets pushed further and further down my list of priorities because it can be time consuming. However if you know you have a whole afternoon free, try reading something. It doesn't have to be a book. It could be a magazine. It could be a journal article in a subject area that really interests you. It could be blog posts. But reading a book or a graphic novel is the ultimate escape for me because you can step into another world for a little while and not worry about what's going on in your own life. It's easy to get distracted by the convenience of just putting the TV on and zoning out, but reading will make you feel much more relaxed and refreshed when you need it most.

Pamper yourself because well, treat yo'self.
Now, I go through stages of being really good and really bad at this next one. Pampering yourself can give you such a positive mind and confidence boost but lately I just haven't had even the energy to do simple things like painting my nails or putting a face mask on. I've pushed myself through this lazy lethargic barrier though because it is so so important to look after yourself. Putting a hair mask on in the shower for 5 minutes, doing a full body exfoliation in the shower, putting on a face mask, taking time to do you makeup and hair real nice... All these things can give me such a boost in my energy levels and get rid of niggling negative thoughts. You and your own well-being should always be your number one priority and if this isn't the best TLC for yourself I don't know what is.

Go for a long walk - get outside!
This is something that again, I can go through stages with, but I think this one could be the most important and most relaxing of them all. Going out for a walk can do wonders for your frame of mind. Even if it's pouring down with rain, go out for a walk somewhere - find somewhere nice and quiet to walk around. If you're in the countryside, go out and explore; if you're in the city - find a local park. Especially in the autumn/winter months, a good 3+ mile walk all bundled up in warm clothes can make me feel *so* much better about a multitude of things. Not only can it clear your mind and make you feel more positive, but it is lovely to do alone, with a loved one, or as a group. You can take your dog, spend some time with your other half, or just spend some much needed time with yourself in a different - and usually beautiful - environment. It's also a wonderful way to break up a lazy day at home as the thought of coming home and changing into warm comfy clothes and making a hot chocolate and something like a bacon sandwich to restore your energy levels is such a nice soothing thought. If you had just laid around in bed all day, those small things would have just seemed like mundane necessities instead of little gems of goodness in your day.

Have a hearty meal at home or out and about.
I don't know about you guys but food might just be my number one love. If you talk to me at any point of any day and ask me what I'm thinking about, 9 time out of 10 it will be what I could possibly have for my next meal or snack. I love food a great deal and there's nothing better than planning to have something you've really been craving or something you find comforting as a big meal on a rough stressful day. The whole process of cooking is something I find calming (as long as its a recipe I'm familiar with) and of course, the end result can make you feel so fat and content with life. If you're someone who dreads picking up a recipe book or someone who just does not want to face the washing up at the end of it all, find somewhere local to go and have the ultimate relaxing experience. I used to have serious anxiety about going out for dinner and although sometimes those feelings crop up now and again, there are local spots that I've been to regularly enough now that I know I find them comfortable to eat in. Having someone else make something tasty for you where you can just sit and enjoy the company of others or even your own company (side note: I'm 100% all for people going out for meals alone. Do it. It's a life changer) is a serious luxury we all often take for granted far too often.

Do something creative.
This last one is the most general of all my relaxation go-tos, but it is the perfect option for most people because it will encompass what you enjoy. When I say "be creative" I'm basically saying do something that will get your juices flowing that will prevent you from slobbing out in front of the TV or console and will relax you in a different way - in a positive way. I typically choose between 3 or 4 things when I want to be creative: draw/paint, colour-in a colouring book/use my Wreck It Journal, write blog content, or do some sort of exercise; usually yoga. Doing something creative means you are not just wasting your time and the energy you are putting into the task will be worth the outcome. Having an end result can be the light at the end of the tunnel for some people and doing activities such as these will give you an end product to be proud of. Whether it's something you've completed, made with your own hands, or a change to your body, spending your time creatively can do wonders on your stress levels and can help you learn new things. This is an opportunity to experiment and try new things and if it doesn't work out - don't worry - you can just go back to something you know and any heightened stress through doing something not quite perfect or not quite the way you thought it would go won't matter because you'll be able to chill out some other way.

Of course all of these ideas are ways I just choose to relax. I'm sure there's a million-and-one ways various people could relax but I've found these methods to be the most effective for me. Doing a bit of spring cleaning, clearing out your wardrobe, and doing some meditation have also been ways I have de-stressed myself in the past but if I need a quick fix relaxation, I will always choose one of the above. What do you enjoy doing to relax and let go of the stress of daily life?

- A.
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