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Sometimes what we really need in order to live our best life is to just relax. Sometimes all it takes is a deep breath. Try it. Right now. It really does help.

One of the battles I’ve fought over the years is the tendency to want to snap off some sort of reply, response, or retort when someone says something that I think is wrong, uninformed, or insensitive. Nine times out of 10, if I just take a deep breath and give it a minute, I’ll think better of it. Sometimes I’ll even realize I misunderstood what they said.

So, taking a deep breath is a fairly simple way to relax. Here are 5 other relaxation techniques that may work for you.

  1. writing journal
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    One technique that works well for me is writing. Not necessarily writing for work, although that sometimes is relaxing, depending on the topic, but the writing I do for myself and on my personal blog, which you are reading right now. This year, as part of my efforts to live my best life, I have started keeping a journal. I’ve discovered there are no rules about what you write in your journal. What’s working for me right now is combining a to-do, daily and long-term goals, with giving myself pep talks and reviewing what’s going right and what is providing the most satisfaction in life. I find that not only relaxing but motivating, inspiring, and empowering. Writing has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and PTSD, and even help with substance abuses issues. The freedom of a personal journal, where you can write whatever you want without fear of judgement, where you don’t have to apply a filter or concern yourself with anyone’s thoughts but your own, can be beneficial. (Just take care that you don’t stress yourself out over missing a day of writing in your journal. It’s okay. This is for you, no one else.)
  2. child coloring book
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    Sometimes the way to relax is a bit out of the ordinary.  Adult coloring books became something of a craze a couple of years ago. For many of us, coloring books provided hours of entertainment when we were kids. And if you think about it, kids usually aren’t being rambunctious or loud when they’re coloring. It’s a quiet and relaxing activity. The same is true for adults. Personally, I find adult coloring books a bit tedious, but all of us are different. Many adults still find picking up a crayon to be relaxing. (As an aside, there are few things I love more than a brand new box of crayons. There’s something a little thrilling about the smell of new crayons and all those colorful sharp points!)
  3. Another way to relax is to take a walk. I’m not necessarily talking about power walking or trying to beat your best time, although that may work for you. According to WebMD, a brisk walk releases endorphins, reducing stress and alleviate mild depression. But taking a walk for the pure enjoyment of it can also be a good way to relax. The fresh air, the sounds of nature, and moving your body are all relaxing. I like to take along a camera — a smartphone will do — and look for interesting things to photograph. I always feel much more relaxed after a nice walk.
  4. woman reading on beach
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    Reading is a great way to relax. Many people try to read in bed and find that they fall asleep before they can turn a page. That speaks to the power of reading to reduce stress and anxiety. But even if you’re the opposite — if you’re the type that will stay up late reading a good book — escaping into a good novel can be very relaxing. As a bonus, there is research that indicates that reading, particularly in midlife, can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
  5. Go to the beach and soak in the negative ions. These miracle molecules help increase the body’s level of serotonin, alleviating stress and depression, and boosting mood. Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University, explains “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions.” Negative ions are also produced by thunderstorms, so if you can’t get to the beach, walk outside after a storm has passed to enjoy a similar feeling.

Finding a way to relax is important for your overall health. It slows the heart rate, helps regulate blood sugar, and reduces stress hormones.

What’s your favorite way to relax?

 

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