3 Key Concepts For Relaxation

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the word, relax? For me, I often picture myself having fun on holiday sunbathing in the summer sun, somewhere hot and exotic. Deadlines, clock-watching, routine – it’s all out of the window. At the risk of sounding a bit hippy, I’ve noticed that when I am relaxed I quite literally live in the moment. As we push through the final stretch of the year, it can certainly feel that we can only give permission to ourselves to relax once we have achieved X,Y, and Z. That we need to push ourselves as far as we can, until we’ve earned it. However, that does not need to be the case. Whilst I am a huge advocate for hard work and productivity, I also place immense importance on balance.

Here are just a few tips which have helped me to find some balance and time for relaxation:

1. Get comfortable with setting boundaries

I spoke a lot about the importance of getting organized in my blog post, Get More Time Back In Your Day. It is important to remember that with organization, also comes boundaries. It may sound ironic to plan time in to relax, but I promise you will reap the benefits if you do. In order to prioritize relaxation, it may however require you on occasion to say no to other things. I’ll be the first to admit that this is something that I have always found very difficult, but have got a lot better at in recent years. As a result of setting boundaries for myself, it means that I have time in my evening to dedicate to that episode on Netflix I’ve been saving, or even time to blog – both things which I find therapeutic!

2. Set the mood

We all know atmosphere is so important for relaxation. How the smell of one cinnamon candle can lift your mood and get you singing, “All I want for Christmas” without even realizing it. Whether it’s a bath, fragrance oil diffusers, or even the smell of a simple hot-chocolate, play to your senses and set the mood for relaxation. Switch on those fairy lights and focus on what you can smell and see, as you cozy up in your dressing gown, and feel the tension slowly melt away.

3. Empty your mind

My third recommendation is planning to actively do something, which will by default empty your mind. This can include going back to your childhood roots with some art therapy (yes you really can get colouring books for adults!) Take time to do something that you find de-stresses you. It may be painting, knitting, or taking the dog out for a walk, all of which serve as a form of mindfulness. Some other ideas can include meditation, breathing exercises, light walks and one to one conversations with someone close to you.

Each of these concepts will help you to minimize restless thoughts and create some peace and quietness in your day, essential for relaxation.

What are some of the things you do to relax? Share them with me in the comments below!

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Mindfulness Chocolate Challenge!

Mindfulness is a type of meditation which focuses on the awareness of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. It is free from interpretation and judgment of your own thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness helps to relax the body and mind, as well helping to reduce stress levels. Today I am sharing with you a guided mindfulness activity. This was one of the very first things I did when I began studying for my Psychology degree, so it’s super beginner friendly if you haven’t tried mindfulness before. All you need for this activity is 5 minutes, 1 chocolate (or a raisin), and a pen and paper (or your phone will do).

The below activity was sourced from Duke Intergative Medicine. My personal choice for this exercise is a small Celebrations sized Malteser chocolate! Ready to begin? Find a comfortable and quiet spot and get your chocolate at the ready…

  • First, unwrap the chocolate, take it out of it’s wrapper(if it has one), and hold it between your index finger and thumb. Focus solely on the chocolate and try to imagine that this is the very first time you have ever seen this food.
  • Take some time to examine it carefully. Really look at it. Give it your full attention.
  • Allow your eyes to wonder across the chocolate, focusing on it’s shape. Are there any different colours? What does it’s surface feel like?
  • Examine it’s texture and note if there is any light shining on it, or if there are any shadows.
  • Begin to turn the chocolate between your finger tips, and continue to focus on it’s texture.
  • Apply a very small amount of pressure to the chocolate – is it soft or is it hard? Feel free to close your eyes if that allows you to really focus on how the chocolate feels between your fingers.
  • Recognize this is as chocolate. What thoughts do you have about this chocolate, if any? Are there any specific memories that come to mind? Do you like or dislike them?
  • Now hold the chocolate under your nose, and take a few natural breaths in. With each inhale, notice how the chocolate smells.
  • Continue to breathe the chocolate in and out, but now turn your attention to the effect this has had on your mouth and your stomach.
  • Slowly bring the chocolate close to your mouth. Notice if you have begun to salivate, as your body and mind prepares itself for eating.
  • Next without chewing, place the chocolate gently into your mouth.
  • Over the next 10 seconds or so, feel the chocolate with your tongue and become aware of the sensations of having it there.
  • Take a moment to become aware of this deliberate pause. How does it feel to take some time before eating this piece of chocolate?
  • When you are ready, prepare to chew. Take one or two bites into it without swallowing, and notice what happens when you do so. Bring your full attention to the chocolate’s taste and texture as you continue chewing. How does the chocolate’s taste and texture change in your mouth?
  • When you feel ready to, swallow the rest of the chocolate, focusing as you do so as it travels down to your stomach.

How does your whole body feel after completing this exercise? Take a few moments to write down any reflections and answers you may have to the following questions:

  1. Was there anything that surprised you during this exercise?
  2. What did you notice about the chocolate in relation to sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste?
  3. Did you have any thoughts or memories that you recalled during this exercise? If so, what were they?
  4. What is one takeaway from this exercise that you will try to apply to your future eating habits?

I hope that you enjoyed this mindfulness eating exercise! Redoing this activity reminded me how I used to take a moment on my commute to practice mindfulness. This helped set me up for the day ahead, as well a block out any possible annoying commuters…! If anyone has any other activities that you find useful, please do share them in the comments with me.

If you liked this post, you should subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m talking about. Remember there will also be more content coming your way every day this month, don’t miss out!

Come connect with me on socials:

Facebook | Natalia Talks About

Instagram | @nataliatalksabout

YouTube | Nataliatalksabout

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