A practical guide to relaxation
Research shows that people who are more connected to nature are usually happier.1 Nature can generate a multitude of positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, creativity and can facilitate concentration. Start by listening to birdsong or touching the bark of trees. If you are able to, then try smelling flowers or feeling the soil between your fingers while planting bulbs or pulling weeds. You don’t have to be in nature to connect to the natural world. Writing a poem or reflecting on time spent in nature can also help you connect with nature and relax.
Music is something that almost anybody can access, and research shows that listening to music is an effective technique for relaxation and stress management.2 The University of Nevada has put together some recordings that you can try listening to for your relaxation practice. Interestingly, they note that music with Native American, Celtic and Indian instruments (including stringed instruments, drums, and flutes) has been found to be particularly effective when relaxing the mind, even when played moderately loud.
If you experience stress, depression, or anxiety, journaling can help you take control of your emotions and improve your mental health.3 Keeping a journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. Look at your writing time as a time when you can de-stress and wind down. Find a place that's comfortable, maybe with your favourite beverage and start writing down your thoughts – it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, anything you write is worthwhile.
Whether it’s quiet reflection, visualisation, body scan, or focused attention, there are many different types of meditation to explore. Meditation is a simple way to reduce stress and even a few minutes of meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.4 Smartphone apps or audio downloads can be useful guides for meditation and help you keep track of your progress. Some examples include Smiling mind, the Headspace app, or Simple Habit and Calm.*
*Please note, these apps are not developed or endorsed by Biogen ANZ.
If possible, schedule one 10-minute session or two 5-minute sessions a day for your relaxation practice. If you have a full schedule, try to find a moment of downtime during your day, for example, while waiting for the kettle to boil or between meetings.
It can take time and practice to start reaping the rewards of relaxation practices, but the more you stick with it, the sooner you will see results.5 Don’t feel discouraged if you skip a few days or weeks. Start over and try to slowly build your momentum again.
1. Nature: How connecting with nature benefits our mental health, Mental Health Foundation, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/research/nature-how-connecting-nature-benefits-our-mental-health. Accessed April 2022.
2. Releasing stress through the power of music, University of Navada, https://www.unr.edu/counseling/virtual-relaxation-room/releasing-stress-through-thepower- of-music. Accessed April 2022.
3. Journaling for Mental Health, University of Rochester Medical Centre, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552& ContentTypeID=1. Accessed April 2022.
4. Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858. Accessed April 2022.
5. Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxationtechnique/art-20045368. Accessed June 2022.
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