Monday, 24 April 2017

How I relax (when I do)


I know a more click-worthy blog title would be ‘Tip on how to relax’- but what I’ve found in preparation for this post, and when asking others about what they turn to for relaxation, the answers have proven that what is effective can be very individual.

For instance, Si said he’s at his happiest and most relaxed when cooking up a storm in the kitchen. But I can tell you right now, that me attempting to rustle something up would deliver quite the opposite effect for me…and for anyone having to consume the results.

I know some Dads that would escape to the golf course when needing a break from the chaos and noise of the family home. However whenever my Dad used this technique in an attempt to wind down, he’d come home a bit gruff, feeling frustrated due to having a bad round or grumpy having had to drive and putt through with miserable British weather.

So I’m going to be honest about what relaxes me. Only me. You may not understand some of them, in fact there’s a chance some of them may disgust you or make you think I’m a weirdo (even more so that you do already). Hopefully there will be a few that will make you nod in a agreement, or intrigue you enough to entice you to give it them a try too.

Soak it up

I know, it’s a bloody obvious one, but it’s only obvious because it’s true. A shower doesn’t do the trick, because for a start you have to stand which means you’re having to use some of your body’s strength. I turn to a shower for speed of cleaning or if I’m looking to the pace and pressure of the water to perk me up in the morning . A bath means you can let your body flop and allow to water (and whatever you put into it) to soothe you aches and pains. If money was no object I would of course incorporate some sort of Lush product in that water, but plain steaming hot water still does a lot in terms of making me zone out for reality for a bit. I know many escape to the bathroom for peace and quiet, but I like to rest my laptop on the loo and put something on whether that be a Netflix show or an Iplayer favourite like the Great Pottery Throwdown.

Watch Some Trash

Talking of watching screens, As you know I love to watch thought provoking films and shows, the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching  but they get the brain wurring too much, and we don’t want to have much thought going on. I find a good approach for relaxation is either finding a show you’ve watched so many times it doesn’t require any brain power to follow it anymore. The sort of show that you could drop of and snooze through half of it and wake up being able to talk along with the script. For me that would be shows like The Office, The Trip, Friends, Ally McBeal, Sex and The City. What would yours be?

Headspace

It's not breaking news that meditation works wonder and that it is something we should all be finding time to do it each day. if you're like me you will have made excuses for years about not having time to put 10-20 minutes aside, but if we are brutally honest with ourselves there is always something we can trade out - a session of Netflix viewing, time scrolling Instagram, chatting on Whatsapp, a bit less time spent on doing our hair., less general faffing.Till recently I had been using a CD that my therapist had given me but I’ve now moved on to the popular Headspace App. The first time I used it I found myself still going to those thoughts of stress and anxiety, but the calming voice assures you this is fine and perfectly normal.



Neutrogena Mask

The brand recently released their revolutionary Light Therapy Acne Mask, a wearable LED device that delivers red and blue wavelengths deep into the skin at the speed of light to disrupt the acne cycle. The blue light kills bacteria while the red light reduces the inflammation linked to acne - at a push of a button for ten minutes per session. This is a technique that has been used professionally for years, but Neutrogena has now delivered a product that utilises the same demtagolist technology at an energy level that's safe to use at home. An obvious and noteable bonus is of course the difference in cost too. But I'm not going to refer to it's effectiveness in terms of reducing acne here, I'm going to tell you about a surprise benefit I found from using it every day. Okay aside from the fact it makes Si jump out of his skin when I walk in the bedroom with it on, it's actually provided me with an excuse to lie down and zone out for ten minutes each day. I guess in a way it has encouraged me to stick to my meditation and use the the sessions of light fuelled spot zapping to prepare myself mentally for the day ahead. 
RRP MASK - £59.99
ACTIVATOR -£14.99 (LASTS A MONTH)
Available for Boots and Amazon

Taking pictures

The best part about taking pictures is that it concentrates your focus on that moment, that subject or thing you’re trying to capture. At no point do I find myself thinking about anything but the photo and capturing an image. It's another form of Mindfullness really. It also encourages you to change your environment which I think it's very important particularly if the space you are in is causing you stress. You also get that feeling of satisfaction which no doubt releases some positive energy into your body. There's nothing better than looking through your photos and being excited and happy with what you've managed to document or create.

Visual stimulation on my ceiling/relaxing lighting

I’ve have insomniac episodes for years now, so much so that I’ve been left with a necessity which impacts Simon’s sleeping habits. I don’t like sleeping in the dark, if it were up to me I’d have the TV on at low volume every night. Si has indulged me in the past, but these days he complains about the distraction when I attempt to keep the TV on when we go to sleep. So it came to a point where either me or him would suffer from a lack of sleep. Then I got these light products from Prezzy Box, we found a solution that would deliver a happy medium. I know it will make me sound like a toddler that needs a mobile above their cot to drift off, but the movements of the coloured lights really do help me fall into dreamland. It’s still quite new so it has that novelty value too and I get quite excited about the prospect of turning it on each night. It's has too ways of using it too. It can be more soothing if the lid is kept on and placed on the bedside table but I prefer to get mesmerized by the ceiling projections that occue when you unscrew the sphere top. 

£26.95
http://www.prezzybox.com/laser-sphere-projector.aspx

I use this one for my naps as it doesn't matter that it isn't pitch black and I tend to have naps in the day time. I find the change in the colour really soothing to have in the corner of my eye when settling done for a brief siesta. This one comes with sound effects too including the sound of a stream rippling, frog noises, sea waves, Bird-song and then bird song twinned with the sound of water. I find the sound too loud, maybe because my rooms are a bit small, so I opt to just use the light, and there's a switch that easily allows for that.

 £14.95
http://www.prezzybox.com/stress-relieving-relaxation-light-with-soothing-sounds.aspx

Spot Squeezing videos.

Okay, I know it’s a bit niche. Okay maybe that’s being kind, I know some of you will think I’m a bit of a wrongan, but judging by the view counts I’m not alone in this - maybe I’m just foolishly loud about my fondness. But if you think about it, it’s not that far off from other visual aids we turn to for mindfull-ness purposes. Although my friends send me the odd link to an article they’ve seen on the Daily Mail  showing a phone video of a guy/girl who’s had a spot for years which has finally been squeezed, but on the whole I watch the professionals, you know, the skin doctors. That makes it a bit less wrong right? Please….guys??  



A head massage/leg/foot massage.

I’ll take any sort of massage at this point. I remember in the early days of my and Si’s relationship it was offered up fairly regularly, these days I have to beg and usually put up with it being postponed on three separate occasions before it actually happens. But when it does, boy is it a glorious occasion. If money was no object I’d go to spa’s and have regularly professional ones, but in absence of any funds whatsoever Si will have to do. I guess having your partner do it makes it a bonding experience too? It’s just annoying that the session of relaxation is always followed by work…Si now demands back scratches as a thank you for his massaging efforts.

Organising

I’m not talking about tackling a project like my bedroom, which some you will know has been christened ‘The Cesspit of Doom’, no, I’m talking about those manageable tidying tasks that brings a huge amount of satisfaction in a relatively short amount of time. It might be taking on that miscellaneous draw that houses everything that either needs hiding or doesn’t seem to have a proper and rightful place. Perhaps it’s sorting through your nail varnishes and chucking out the ones that have gone gloopy or hard. Maybe it’s sharpening all the pencils in your pencil case. Maybe its shredding your receipts and pretending you didn’t spend that money you don’t have. Whatever it is that does it for you…my friend Barn actually uses the excuse that she’s doing her paperwork as an reason not to come out, she bloody loves it!


A Walk.

Sometimes it’s just a short walk round the corner to this tiny enclosed park which always has a few doggies in, so we have the opportunity to get some fresh air and stalk some furry friends, and other times we got to our favourite spots like Hampton river, Bushy park, Virginia Water or Shere. I just think fresh air does everyone some good, and its particularly helpful if you’re suffering with some sort of work block. You always seen to come back refreshed and ready to get back to it for of ideas and ways to advance. I think being around nature also has a hugely positive effect on me I definitely smile a bit more and relax those shoulders.


Drawing

I know a lot of people turn to colouring books for this sort of relief, and if you’re one of these go and buy a lovely one by my pal Anastasia Tasou. For me it’s drawing something from scratch thats just for me. I like the satisfaction I feel if i manage to put onto paper the idea I have in my head and have something tangible to show for my efforts. I said just for me because when I started doing commissions a couple of years ago I certainly didn’t find the process relaxing.


Doing my make up.

The important factor here is that it is only relaxing when it’s done in the right conditions. I don’t like to be hurried and I don’t liked to be talked at while I’m doing it. I prefer to sit on my bed with one of my fave morning shows like Frasier in the background, with absolutely nothing to interrupt me. I like to take my time, which isn’t very long these days as I don’t wear much make up anymore. I think having products you enjoy using helps this process to be a relaxing one. The satisfaction of seeing the transformation from pre/post foundation application adds more than a few pleasure points too.



Film Scores.

Music is another subjective one, because I know many people who listen to Heavy music and metal to wind down and it appears to genuinely work. While I definitely think it helps me get through some stressful moments during the day( I love listening to Architects, Machine Head and BMTH when tackling the crowds on the underground) I think for proper chill time or to create a relaxing environment to work in, classical music and more often than not, film scores, tend to me what I turn to. Some of my favourite composers include Hans Zimmer, Aaron Zigman, Craig Armstrong, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Ilan eshkeri, and Peter Vronsky if you wanted to check them out!

A video about some of my faves - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi6M9yx55i8


Going out for dinner.

Now that I don’t have to be on my restricted diets all the time, going out for a meal can be relaxing (if it still caters to my personal difficulties a bit). Of course there’s still stress caused by the fear of an IBS attack, but as long as I know I’m going home straight after or that the restaurant has decent facilities I can still gain a lot of pleasure and chill from eating out. Not only does it mean you don’t have to cook or wash up, you get the escape the house which for me is integral as it’s my place of work.

  
Doggy Cuddles

Signing up for Borrow my Doggy was probably the best thing Si and I did in term of our happiness levels. Rosie the Cockapoo has brought so much joy into our lives since we met her through the website when she was a young puppy two or so years ago. We see her as regaulrly as our conflicting schedules allow, and every time she improved our moods by at  least 50%. With her licks, and unwavering love she manages to lift me out of the deepest of funks.



Getting off Social Media 

A few months ago I decided I wasn't going to watch YouTube videos. I realised any benefits I got from watching them were heavily outweighed by the negative ones. I didn't want to feel crappy that I didn't have money to spend on clothes, that I wasn'y going on holiday for the forseeable future or getting the same amazing opportunities as many of the other YouTubers I watch. I decided I'd only watch video's if I needed to find something out, do research, or if I truly felt it would enrich my life in some real way. I also decided to spend a smaller percentage of my day scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and I neglected Facebook entirely. Boy, do I feel much better for it. I definitely don't miss all the rants about ex partners or the not so humble brags of people on Facebook. If your not quite ready to take as drastic a step back from social media as me, I would very much reccommend turning off the notifications on your phone and perhaps limiting yourself to a few checks a day. A reduction will still benefit your ability to relax, as I feel like technology often interrupts the flow of chill time. How often are you watching a film and find yourself suddenly stressed because you've read an email or message about work?


Low Maintenance Friends

Spending time with those sorts of friends that don’t make arranging things stressful. The sort that wont care if you haven’t showered or if you come with zero banter that day. The kind of mate that you feel completely comfortable sitting in silence with, but you know you won’t because you’ll feel so relaxed and like you’ve escaped work/home stresses, that you’ll talk their ears off.


So that’s some of the things that work for me. Please share in the comments what things you do, or what techniques you use, to relax and zone out for a bit. Let's help each other combat the intensity of living in these crazy times.
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