How to Relax
Because your mind and body are connected, how your treat your body also affects your mind. Taking care of your body helps you to feel good both physically and mentally, and will help to improve your mood.
Ten relaxation hacks to help you
Learn to relax – these hacks can improve your ability to relax, to turn off negative thoughts and to stop stressing about life’s issues.
- Just breathe!
Taking a slow, deep breath in and slowly releasing it can have immediate relaxation effects.
- Learn to meditate.
Meditation sounds complicated, but is simply guiding your thoughts to positive, happy places and experiences. It can be as simple as doing breathing or stretching exercises in a comforting, calm place, like your bedroom or other quiet space, and it can be practiced whenever you have a few spare minutes. Meditation can improve your relaxation, mood and sleep. You can find lots of information about meditation online or at the library.
- Practice mindfulness.
You can practice mindfulness without any formal instruction. Simply put, mindfulness is focusing on what you are doing in the moment in a positive way, and being aware and accepting of your emotions. If you are going for a walk, for example, mindfulness would mean focusing on the weather, where you are walking or what you are seeing and experiencing – positive, moment to moment experiences. Mindfulness stops you from stressing out or worrying about other things that are outside of what you are currently doing. Taking time to be mindful is a great temporary escape from the normal day-to-day worries like classes, exams, money, sports and social issues.
- Practice yoga.
Yoga provides the same kind of benefits as meditation and mindfulness, and also improves overall physical health, tones muscles and helps to control breathing. Yoga is very popular and you can easily find classes at community centres (many of them free or low-cost), or seek out books, You Tube videos and free online guides or apps.
- Physical exercise.
Getting active provides many benefits to both your mind and your body, including improved overall health, mood and sleep. See the 10 Health Hacks in this section to find fun, easy ways to add some activity to your life.
- Listen to music.
Music is known to influence mood and to soothe and/or excite emotions. Some say soothing music is better for relaxing than energetic and stimulating music, which may be better for exercise or work-outs where you want to move quickly and stay energized. No matter what type of music you enjoy, finding new music is fun. Ask your friends for recommendations, share playlists and find new artists to enjoy together.
- Turn down your screens.
Just for fun, try turning everything off and listen to the silence! Even if just for a short time, turning off your phone, computer and TV can help to limit distractions and noise when you want to relax.
- Play games.
With most of your time being taken up with school, friends, relationships, part-time jobs and responsibilities at home, it’s easy to forget to have fun. Playing board games or doing puzzles can take your mind of stressors. Physical games can also remind you that it’s relaxing to move around. Activities like competing with others at the skatepark or just competing against yourself to see how many baskets you can shoot can bring some of the fun back into your life.
- Read something!
Reading doesn’t have to mean a serious novel or textbook. Reading can be fun and can take you to other places, let you be other people and show you other worlds. You can read comic books, graphic novels, short stories, travel stories, blogs, journals, fiction and non-fiction to name just a few. You could even read cookbooks for inspiration, or magazines for pictures and articles. If you don’t have reading materials at home or online, you can go to a school library, town library or borrow books from friends.
- Give yourself a massage.
This might sound impossible, but you can actually massage your own tired and sore muscles with a little instruction. Massages are known to be soothing and relaxing, but not everyone can go to a massage therapist. YouTube has several videos, or you can search online or at the library for more information.
Be aware of false relaxation methods!
Try to avoid the following things – they can actually add to stress:
- Using drugs or alcohol as a response to stressful feelings or situations. The stressful situation will still be there after the high has worn off, along with the added stresses that drug and alcohol use bring – negative health effects, financial stress and consequences of risky behaviour during the high.
- Engaging in behaviours that might temporarily make you feel in control, but only adds to stress in the end – bullying, cyberbullying, vandalism, graffiti or other criminal behaviour.
- Giving in to peer pressure to feel better, and doing something that others tell you will help your stress, but that you know is wrong. This kind of activity harms self-esteem and has a negative effect on your self-image and confidence.