How do you de-stress and relax?

It’s Sunday today, a day we lovingly call PJ Sunday, this is because every other day of the week we have something to do, to sort out, somewhere to go or people to see. Sunday is our day of rest. We aren’t religious, it’s just that as an adult, having spent years whinging as a teenager about how everything is shut on Sunday etc, I have now realised that it’s actually important to have a day where you do nothing. Finding time to relax, on any day of the week, it can be 10 minutes or it can be two hours, your choice. Why do I say this? Well the obvious answer is that stress makes us sick, it affects people in a variety of ways, from not eating to comfort eating, insomnia to oversleeping and excess tiredness, apathy or even outright anger. Stress can put your blood pressure and heart rate up (putting your heart under extra stress) while relaxation can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, help you feel calmer, which in turn helps you have a healthier sleep pattern. And it continues from there, a better sleep pattern improves your mood, helps you control your eating habits better, stops you from becoming angry or anxious and in turn makes you more resilient to stress. So why wouldn’t you want to de-stress and relax? Here are a few of the options I’ve found help me, and my lot, feel calmer and generally happier people.

Starting with the basics

There are so many sites telling you how you are meant to relax and destress, but that doesn’t make it right for you so here we’re breaking it down into categories. The first is the basics, these are things that most people will feel comfortable doing and probably do or at least used to do, on a regular basis.

  • Listen to music
  • Indulge in a hobby = colouring, drawing, writing, video games, reading
  • Veg out – binge a TV show, watch your favourite movie, just curl up on the sofa and let the story take you away.
  • Go for a walk, it can be a short walk or a long walk, it just needs to allow you to clear your head and get some fresh air.
  • Have a bath or shower, take your time, if you like to do beauty routines or pamper yourself then you can do that or combine two things and take a book in the bath – just don’t drop it.

But what else is there?

Relaxation techniques

Make sure you have somewhere quiet to do this where you won’t be disturbed every few minutes.

  • Breathing – there are a lot of breathing techniques that work for some and not for others, but even just closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing can help, don’t feel bad if you fall asleep – you probably needed it. You can do this by simply placing a hand on your stomach and focusing on the movement of your stomach as you slowly inhale and exhale.
  • Meditation – you can find guided meditation all over the internet, just find the best choices for you. This could just be to relaxing music, clearing your mind and focusing on breathing and keeping your mind clear – this is not as easy as it sounds. You can also use guided meditation where a voice talks you through the process. If you’re a WW member and you have the app there is Headspace included in your app. Otherwise try YouTube, iTunes or Google Play to find free apps or videos.
  • Muscle relaxation – this can be done along side the breathing and the music if it suits you. One way of doing this (taught to me when I was just 18) was to lie somewhere comfortable and focus on each part of your body, consciously relaxing each part. Starting with your toes, move onto your feet, your ankle, your calf muscle, knees, thighs, fingers, hands etc. And just keep going until you reach your head, again you need to ensure you won’t be distracted when doing this as it doesn’t take much to tense up again if you get disturbed frequently.

For more relaxation techniques check out the NHS inform²

Quick Fixes

These are for those moments that you don’t have time to stop, lie down and count shapes, or relax muscles individually. Maybe you don’t have time to stop and do colouring and you have to fit it in somewhere in your day. Obviously depending on how much time we are talking here, you still have your options.

  • Walking – yes we mentioned this earlier, but if you’re on your lunch break, find a place where you can walk to and eat in peace – avoid eating at your desk as much as possible – it will only stress you out more. Even if you just decide to take a two minute walk around the building to give yourself a break from being sat in one place it’s worth doing.
  • Creative Visualisation or to the rest of us, day dreaming. Okay technically this is just for relaxation but can be used to visualise what you want to achieve in life (something I’ve seen mentioned when talking about the law of attraction etc) or a goal you’re working towards, or perhaps something you are trying to design or create. But it also has it’s uses in helping to relax you, take a few minutes to make up a scenario in your head that can bring you joy, perhaps you’re imaging getting that publishing deal and becoming a writer, or winning the lottery. Maybe you want to visualise a place that brings you joy, your parents house, a place you visited with a loved one. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is something that leaves you feeling better, calmer or a little happier.
  • Play a song – again back to music, but if you have a song you love that cheers you on put it on, don’t have anything to play it on, hum it or sing it in your head, once you get those lyrics following you will find the mood that you get from hearing it will kick in just as if you heard it.
  • Laughter – this one may require other people, but not always. Spend a minute or two watching videos of crazy cats, look up the outtakes from your favourite show. Better still, if you’re with other people, chat about something that will make you laugh, laughter, as well as being a sign of joy, actually improves your mood. Research has shown that even pretending to smile can help reduce stress and will help cheer you up³. So find something to laugh about.
  • Focusing – on small things, counting backwards forces you to focus on what you’re doing and stops your mind racing, counting things around you can also have a similar effect if you need something to help distract you. You may have seen it used in season 2 of the Punisher (Netflix), where the therapist tells Russo to count 5 blue things in the room, it forces you to stop focusing on the thing that’s making you panic and take in what’s around you.

I hope this helps you find a few ways to de-stress, let’s make 2019 a little easier for all of us.


  1. Dusek, J. A. & Benson, H (2009) Mind-body medicine: a model of the comparative clinical impact of the acute stress and relaxation responses.
  3. Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman. Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress ResponsePsychological Science, 2012 (in press)



Published by Michelle Quinton

Mum, wife, perpetual student, freelance writer, weight loss coach, artist and occasionally model. I love to try new things, I love to write and I love studying and researching. Never thought I'd see the day that studying became something I enjoyed, but here we are. My blog is where I put my thoughts, I also plan to start a blog of short stories, with a new prompt for each story.

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