During a particularly stressful time, have you ever had someone tell you to “just relax?” Ugh, if only it were that easy, right? Giving yourself permission to take it easy, and learning how to actually do so, is a skill that doesn’t come easy to a lot of us. In fact, it can take quite a bit of effort and attention to get there. That’s why there are so many industries centered entirely around helping people to simply chill out.
As a therapist, I find that myself and my colleagues are especially susceptible to burnout. It can be hard to unwind at the end of an emotionally challenging day. So, what do we do to relax both our minds and our bodies? I’ve rounded up tips that our therapists actually use in their daily lives. Our hope is that by sharing this list, you’ll get just what you need to take it a little easier today.
Top relaxation tips from our therapists:
- We practice mindfulness. This likely comes as no surprise, but mindfulness helps… a lot. If you are looking to start a meditation practice yourself, check out our Guided Journey: Becoming Mindful, available in our self-care app. Or choose an exercise from our Meditation Library. We’ve got a little something for everyone.
- We say “no”. If you often find yourself overbooked or with little time for self-care, practice saying “No, thanks” or “I’ll get back to you” in the mirror or with a trusted person. Therapists recognize the importance of boundaries around our time and that it is okay to say “no” to proposed plans in order to take care of ourselves.
- We disconnect from social media. We often find ourselves feeling even more disconnected and isolated when we use social media, which is not exactly relaxing. This does not have to mean deactivating an account, although for some individuals it may. Many of our therapists who use social media simply bring mindfulness into how it is affecting their day to day lives and setting appropriate boundaries. Deleting the app off of our phones and just using the desktop version, or setting a social media timer, have been helpful for many of us.
- We use time off… for time off! Although I’m personally guilty of creating to-do lists while off work, I still take time away to rest and recharge. As a society, we are so hyper-focused on productivity and output, leaving us stressed and overworked. The next time you can take a day off, try refraining from filling it up with tasks. All of the free time may feel scary at first, but you’ll be taking a great step in learning to let yourself relax.
- We listen to music. Music can boost your mood and be relaxing. Sanvello has curated several playlists on Spotify. Our personal favs are the “Dance It Out” and the “Feeling Better” playlists.
- We take a step outside. Yes, sometimes just one small step is all it takes. Stress can be relieved within minutes of exposure to nature and green spaces. If you’re having trouble relaxing, sometimes a short walk can help you to feel more grounded.
- We practice yoga or mindful movement. It’s probably not surprising that there are a lot of yoga practitioners at Sanvello. You don’t have to become an overnight athlete to receive the benefits of exercise. Even a few stretches throughout the day can help.
- We reach out to others. Try reaching out directly to someone you trust when you are struggling to relax. Social support can help us talk through stress and anxiety. We also have really strong Communities if you’re looking for support from people who just get it.
- We read. Pick up a book that sounds fun to read, not one that you feel you “should” read. If you have no idea where to start, browse the bestseller lists in different categories, go to the library and talk to your librarian, or join an in-person or virtual book club to help you feel more connected.
- We talk to ourselves. Umm, should you be worried?! Not necessarily. Sometimes all it takes to relax is looking at our internal dialogue. We often work with clients, as well as ourselves, to relax by reframing our thoughts with a more positive truth. Not sure where to start? Try our Thoughts Tool to learn more about your negative thoughts and how to reframe them.
- We find support. Yes, even therapists have therapists! If you find yourself struggling to relax, our therapists and coaches can help you better understand and cope with chronic stress.
Did you like the list that we created? Great! Consider creating a relaxation list for yourself. If there are things on our list that don’t feel right for you, that’s completely fine. Relaxation isn’t a “one size fits all” approach.
As you explore different activities, ask yourself during and after, “How do I feel?” to assess if it belongs on your unique list going forward. If you find yourself feeling calm and more relaxed, consider establishing a ritual or system to make relaxation a habitual part of your routine. And remember, it doesn’t happen overnight. Taking small steps will make all of the difference.
By Clare Jordan, Sanvello Therapist
Clare knows firsthand the impact mental health struggles can have on life. As a therapist, her goal is to support her client’s in feeling relief from their concerns and to assist them in reaching their goals. She has over a decade experience in behavioral health, completed her M.Ed. in clinical mental health counseling, and is an independently licensed clinical counselor in five states. She has worked exclusively in telehealth most recently, after practicing in hospital settings and the community. She provides empathic care through implementing cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques, meeting people where they are, in moments of need.
Clare has lived in Ohio for the past 15 years and enjoys exploring her old historic neighborhood. When she is not connecting with clients, she practices yoga at her local studio, reads fiction books, and takes walks outside with her family.