How to live well: rest and relaxation
Taking the time to actively include both rest and relaxation into your daily routine can have a big impact on your ability to live well. If you take good care of both your body and your mind, it can improve your general health and also help you to cope with change more effectively.
Experiencing feelings of stress is a very natural response to pressure. Sometimes it can be a helpful mechanism - kicking your body's system into action so that you can deal with danger. But too much stress can even lead to heart issues and disease, high blood pressure, pain, and sleep problems. It’s important for us to manage these stress levels with mindful rest and relaxation.
You might think that sleep is the only form of rest that you need, but in fact sleep and rest are not the same. Rest comes in several different forms including physical rest, mental rest and sensory rest. We can often feel that we are ‘wasting time’ by resting, but making a choice to rest in any form is productive in itself.
How to get physical rest
Physical rest is not just sleeping, it’s activities that release tension in your body and induce physical feelings of calm. Here are some ideas for physical rest:
- Practice restorative yoga such as this adapted yoga classes with Nina Class on YouTube
- Have a gentle walk
- Lie down and practice muscle relaxation
How to get mental rest
Mental rest can be particularly challenging when you have a busy schedule. But our brains really benefit from downtime so that they can process information. Here are some ideas for mental rest:
- Practice meditation
- Spend time outside
- Have a ‘technology free’ day
How to get sensory rest
Sensory overload is incredibly common and in the modern world we are consistently facing an excess of sensory input throughout our days. So here are some ideas to take a break from sensory overload:
- Use noise cancelling headphones or ear defenders to block out excess noise
- Spent a few minutes each day in silence
- Wear clothes that calm your body - soft, light and not too tight
- Spend time in the fresh air
- Rest your eyes away from electronic devices
It’s important to find a relaxing activity that you enjoy doing and feel happy to make time for, so take a look at our suggestions below and try a couple out for yourself!
Mindfulness is a popular technique for calming your mind and being present in the moment, to the environment around you and to your own thoughts. Here are some NHS tips for how you can practice mindfulness.
SeeAbility Associate Gabby keeps fit with wheelchair yoga and her dad has also put up a punching bag for her. Exercise is a great way to relax and release endorphins.
Our Aylesbury team set up Skype music and dancing therapy for Kirsten during the pandemic to keep her moving. Kirsten finds that listening to calm and relaxing music really helps her to relax. She told us:
“It’s always good to keep dancing through these tough times! Stay safe!"
Spend time outside
Greg, SeeAbility Associate:
“Being outside is really important to me, doing something different and getting fresh air."
Enjoy nature by spending time outside, in your garden or going for a relaxing walk. If you don’t have a garden, you could also try growing a plant on your windowsill. Having a couple of plants in your house will improve air quality and create a calming atmosphere.
Do creative things that you enjoy, such as reading, writing, playing games, doing crossword puzzles, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Here are some ideas from RNIB of arts and crafts to do if you're blind or partially sighted.
Focusing on your breath is very calming. There are lots of different breathing exercises to try and the NHS has a great list for you to try.