How could relaxation help me?
Take a break
- Read a book or a magazine, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
- Run yourself a bath, watch a film, play with a pet or try out a new recipe.
Focus on your breathing
Learning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
- Count as you breathe. Start by counting ‘one, two, three, four’ as you breathe in and ‘one, two, three, four’ as you breathe out. Try to work out what’s comfortable for you.
Spend time in nature
Spending time outside and in green spaces can be great for your physical and mental health.
- Take a walk in the countryside or through a local park, taking time to notice trees, flowers, plants and animals you see on the way. See our page on relaxation exercises for a guided mindful moment in nature.
- Spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that’s digging in your own garden or taking part in a local green project. You can find projects and outdoor activities to suit whatever level of mobility you have. See our pages on ecotherapy for more information about how to find projects in your area.
Do a tech check
Technology can be great for helping you feel connected, but if you’re using it a lot then it can contribute to making you feel busy and stressed. Taking a break (even a short one) can help you relax.
Try turning your phone off for an hour (or a whole day if you’re feeling brave).
- Step away from the TV, or have an evening where you don’t check emails or
social networks. Use the time to do something relaxing – you could try some of the
Try active relaxation
- Take a walk, going at your own pace. You might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed.
- Look for a class you’d like to try, such as yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching.
- Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing.
- Try not to worry too much about the finished product – just focus on enjoying yourself.
Listen to music
- Listen to your favourite songs. Turn up the volume and dance or sing along, or put your headphones on and close your eyes.
- Really listen to the music. Can you pick out different instruments? Can you hear a drum beat or a certain rhythm? Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away.
Picture yourself somewhere serene
- Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory of somewhere you’ve been, or a place you have imagined.
- Close your eyes, and think about the details of this place. What does it look like –
what kind of colours and shapes can you see? Can you hear any sounds? Is it
warm or cool? Let your mind drift and your body relax.
Making space in your life for relaxation is only one part of managing your mental health.
Our pages on coping with stress and anxiety have more suggestions for ways to help
If you’re finding things very hard right now and the tips on this page don’t feel possible, it
is ok to ask for help. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for
guidance on talking to your doctor about options for support and treatment.
For more support and suggestions, if you’re:
- a student – see our pages on coping with student life
- in work – see our pages on workplace mental health
- a parent – see our pages on parenting with a mental health problem
- a carer – how to cope when supporting someone else