Cynthia is a single mom of two active boys. To support her children she also needs to work. She feels guilty that she doesn’t have enough time for her children, so she spends all her free time with them. She loves her children, but she is overwhelmed and exhausted. She feels guilty if she spends time or money on herself. She wants to relax and decompress but thinks that she doesn’t have the time to do this; she feels like she must always be on the go. If Cynthia doesn’t make time to decompress, her stress threshold will wear thin and she might lash out at others. The potential to become depressed or anxious will be higher.
Contrary to popular belief, going non-stop is not as efficient or effective as taking time out each day to decompress and to relax. The brain is like any other organ in the body; it needs time to restore. Just like going to the gym, your muscles become tired and need some time to recover. Daily decompression and relaxation will make you happier and healthier. Your brain will be more productive the next day if it has had some time to rest.
Here are 7 ideas that might help you decompress.
1. Doing absolutely nothing
Sometimes, people feel guilty when they are not doing or achieving something. Relaxation is an achievement in and of itself. Turning down stimulation such as noise, lights and turning the tv off can have a therapeutic effect on your brain. Your senses can overload your brain as the mind can only process senses one at a time. For example, if you close your eyes and listen, you will notice that you can hear more sounds when your eyes are closed. This is because your brain is able to focus on one sense. Taking time out to listen to the birds, feel the cool breeze, or notice what scents are in the air can be a way to centre yourself.
Some people find music relaxing. This is another way to tune in to one of your senses. Turn the lights low, adjust the temperature and just listen.
Let your mind process: Sometimes we are so busy during the day, running from one thing to the next that our mind doesn’t have time to process anything. At the end of the day, you can sit in silence and see what your brain is still processing. Are there problems to solve? What did you do well today? What are you noticing now after looking back on your day that you didn’t notice before?
At the end of the day, a short walk in nature can be calming. If you live in the city you can find a park, a balcony or a rooftop to soak in the calming effects of being outside.
4. Dance or exercise
When we sit all day, our body builds up tension and stress. The best way to let it out is to move your body. If you don’t have a gym membership, you can go home, turn on the music and just let your body move to the rhythm. It doesn’t matter if you are good at dancing or not; just let your body move and release any tension or stress. Your body will let you know what it needs if you listen.
5. Appreciate small things
Appreciate the small things, like a nice meal, a friendly message from a friend, a smile and a wave from the neighbour, or anything else that makes you feel good.
6. Cuddle and a hug
Cuddling or hugging a pet, a friend, family or a partner helps to release oxytocin and reduce your blood pressure.
Laughing is an excellent way to shake things off. You can watch a comedy, or make jokes with your friends and family. It’s ok not to take yourself too seriously.
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Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.