Going against advice to never start with an apology or disclaimer, I’m going to do both (I am pommy after all). Sorry, but I’m no expert in relaxation or mental health. I have no credentials other than occasionally being referred to as a “chilled guy”.
Everything I suggest below is taken from personal experience & reading. If you want to hear from the experts, feel free to skip ahead to the suggested reading list — I won’t hold it against you (I’m way too chill for that).
- Spend time in Nature
One of my favourite ways to reset is to get outdoors and immerse myself in nature. Coming from a rural background (shout-out Devon!) it’s unsurprising my happy place is hiking in the mountains, camping with friends or swimming in the sea. But there’s heaps of official science-y evidence to back me up — linking time spent in nature to cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.
Did you know ‘Ecotherapy’ is now offered as a formal type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature?
- Be intentional with screen-time
Coming home after a day at work, one of my go to ‘unwind’ habits is to scroll on Instagram with Netflix on in the background. There’s nothing wrong with this in itself, but I find it easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of mindless, dopamine-inducing bingeing. Whereas if I say to myself "for the next 45 mins I'm going to watch Netflix, then I'm going to go and do XYZ" — I'll actually appreciate the downtime way more.
Technology isn’t a bad thing, but our relationship with it can be. It’s important we make it work for us and not vice versa. For further reading, tips and practical advice, I highly recommend Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
- Prioritise Sleep.
I’m sure you’ve read enough to know the importance of getting a good night's sleep. It’s an unfortunate by-product of the ‘hustle & grind’ culture that sleep is sacrificial when there’s work to be done. I’ll let Matt Walker do the sleep-talking, but will leave one shock-statistic here, just for the fella’s reading this... Men who sleep on average 5 hours a night, have significantly smaller testicles than men who sleep 7 hours or more 🍒.
- Move your body
Exercise is a bit of a no-brainer, but worthy of it’s place in the spotlight. Apart from the obvious physical benefits, it’s important to note the significant links to improved mental health. Finding something that you enjoy doing, like a specific sport or a gym where you have strong social connections makes it easier to maintain consistency. It doesn't feel like exercise when it's fun.
For those who are time-poor or travelling a lot, feeling like you have to do a 1hr workout often means you put it off, or end up not doing it all together. 5-10 mins of any movement, bodyweight exercise or just walking is better than nothing. The hardest part is starting.
- Listen to Classical music
This is a subjective one, but there’s plenty of research linked to the positive effects music can have on our wellbeing. Different genres of music will support different mindsets for different people, so it’s a case of working out what works for you. However, a 2018 study on the effect of different types of music on patients’ preoperative anxiety showed that classical music can cause the heart rate and breathing to slow, and emotional distress to decrease. Classical music can also lower cortisol levels in the brain that helps lessen anxiety and lower blood pressure.
I hope this provides some value, let me know how you like to find balance and relaxation in the comments!
Head of Creative
Further reading & watching
Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Digital Minimailism by Cal newport
Matt Walker, Sleep is your superpower (TED Talk)