Let’s face it… 2020 has not been a great year for us all. There has been so much anxiety, uncertainty and worry that it’s not surprising a lot of people feel emotionally exhausted and drained.
If that’s you, then know you’re not alone!
When you face stressors, your body experiences the “fight-or-flight” response, which helps you escape from danger. It comes with an array of physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension and decreased digestion. Once the danger disappears, your body returns to its normal resting state. When this stress is ongoing (like it has been this year!) your body might not get the rest it needs, which can result in negative effects on your health and wellbeing.
This is where some self-care and relaxation comes in, and one of the positives of this year has been that it has forced us to really learn the meaning of those words and what they look like to us. So, are you ready to cultivate more relaxation in your life with a fun 5-day challenge? If yes, keep on reading! If no… still keep on reading, because it’s likely you’ll change your mind!
Day 1 – Engage in a relaxing/calming activity of your choice
Jot down the first activity that comes to mind as you read this and simply do it for 15 minutes to half an hour. Don’t overthink it! It doesn’t matter how small, simple, silly or quirky it is, as long as it will make you happy.
Not sure which activity to do? Here are some ideas:
- Reading a book
- Knitting, sewing or crocheting
- Painting or drawing
- Physical activity – yoga, walk etc.
- Taking a bath
Day 2 – Go on a mindful walk
Spending time amongst nature decreases stress, but doing it mindfully can enhance this experience by bringing more calmness and clarity!
As you start walking, expand your attention to the sounds around you without naming or labelling them; just be aware of them. Then tune into your senses and really observe what’s unfolding in your environment as you walk. Notice the nature, see the colours, the shapes, the textures and become aware of the different smells you might pick up. If anything catches your attention, take a second to explore it, touch it and appreciate its presence. To take this a step further try taking your shoes off to feel the texture of the grass underneath your feet, if this is something you’d be up for doing.
Day 3 – Cultivate gratitude
Gratitude is an amazing practice because it helps you to train your mind to look for the good things in your life.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the following, by either writing it down or saying it out loud:
- List 3 things that make your life better and explain why
- List 3 things you’re grateful for
- List 3 things you appreciate about yourself
Useful tip: Notice how you feel before and after completing this exercise.
Day 4 – Prioritise laughter and fun
Did you know that laughter decreases muscle tension, eases pain, improves mood and even burns calories? Well, today’s challenge will do all that and more! “How?” – you may ask. The answer is simple – Laughter Yoga!
Laughter Yoga is a fun “workout” which is easy to do, fun and can be practised by anyone, flexible or not. Check out the following video for a free laughter yoga session, which you can do at home by yourself or with someone else.
Day 5 – Do a digital detox
Take some time away from technology, social media and the news, as they can be over-stimulating and intrusive at times. It doesn’t have to be the whole day, even an hour helps. Doing this gives you an opportunity to get creative, spend time with the people you love or simply have a relaxing nap, without worrying about what’s out there in the digital world.