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Mind 2017RelaxationThis document provides tips and exercises to help you relax.If you require this information in Word document format for compatibility with screenreaders, please email: [email protected] could relaxation help me? . 2What can I do to relax? . 4Useful contacts . 71

Mind 2017How could relaxation help me?Exploring relaxation can help you look after yourself when you’re feeling stressed orworried. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your dailylife. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do:Take a breakRelaxation doesn’t have to take up lots of your time. Just stepping away from somethingstressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughtscan give you enough space and distance to feel calmer. 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 breathingLearning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep yourshoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it shouldrise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out. Count as you breathe. Start by counting 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe inand 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe out. Try to work out what’s comfortablefor you.Spend time in natureSpending time outside and in green spaces can be great for your physical and mentalhealth. 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 relaxationexercises for a guided mindful moment in nature. Spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that’s digging in your owngarden or taking part in a local green project. You can find projects and outdooractivities to suit whatever level of mobility you have. See our pageson ecotherapy for more information about how to find projects in your area.Do a tech checkTechnology can be great for helping you feel connected, but if you’re using it a lot then itcan 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).2

Mind 2017 Step away from the TV, or have an evening where you don’t check emails orsocial networks. Use the time to do something relaxing – you could try some of theideas above.Try active relaxationRelaxation doesn’t have to mean sitting still – gentle exercise can help you relax too. 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.See our page on physical activity and mental health for more tips.If you're interested in getting more active to support your mental health, take a look atour Get Set to Go campaign to find out more about how you can get active in your localarea.Get creativeGetting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel more calm and relaxed. Try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, bakingor sewing. Try not to worry too much about the finished product – just focus on enjoyingyourself.See our page on relaxation exercises for more ideas on how to use creative activities torelax.Listen to musicMusic can relax you, connect you to your emotions and distract you from worryingthoughts. Listen to your favourite songs. Turn up the volume and dance or sing along, or putyour headphones on and close your eyes. Really listen to the music. Can you pick out different instruments? Can you hear adrum beat or a certain rhythm? Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fadeaway.Picture yourself somewhere sereneEven if you can’t physically get away, your imagination can transport you to somewhereyou feel calm. Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory ofsomewhere you’ve been, or a place you have imagined.3

Mind 2017Close 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 itwarm 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 helpyourself.If you're finding things very hard right now and the tips on this page don't feel possible, itis ok to ask for help. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem forguidance 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 elseWhat can I do to relax?You can use these exercises when you’re feeling stressed, busy or worried:Don’t worry if one technique doesn’t work for you – you could give it another chance, orjust move on to a different exercise.How to use relaxation exercises: You can use relaxation techniques regularly, or every once in a while – whateverfeels right for you. Try and make some time in your day to try these exercises. Don’t treat relaxing likea task that needs to be completed – try to think of it as giving yourself some timeand space. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable where you won’t be interrupted, if you can. Try to make sure your surroundings are the right temperature – it can be hard torelax if you’re too hot or cold.Relax your bodyWhen you’re stressed your muscles can become tight and tense. This exercise helps younotice tension in your body and relax your muscles.What do Ineed? somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down space where you won’t be interrupted4

Mind 2017What do Ido?1. Lie down or sit with your back straight and your feet on thefloor. Close your eyes or focus on a spot in the distance.2. Start by clenching your toes as much as you can for a fewseconds then releasing them. Notice the difference between thetwo feelings.3. Match this to your breathing. Tense your muscle as you take adeep breath in, and relax as you breathe out.4. Move up your body to your thighs, your stomach and all theway to your shoulders and hands, clenching and relaxing eachmuscle in turn. Take time to notice any parts of your body thatfeel tense, tight or tired.You can repeat if you still feel tense.5. Take a moment to relax, then slowly and gently begin to move.When you feel ready, you can stand up slowly.VariationsInstead of tensing your muscles, try placing something warm on eachpart of your body in turn.Draw calming circlesColour, creativity and movement can help you feel relaxed by: distracting you from worrying thoughts giving you an outlet and focus for your emotions stimulating your senses.What do Ineed?What do Ido? a table or desk blank paper crayons, coloured pencils or pens sticky tape or masking tape to hold your paper down (optional)1. Make sure you are sitting comfortably with your feet firmly onthe floor, your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.2. Take your paper and crayon, and draw a circle that fills mostof the page – don’t worry if it’s a bit wonky!3. Now keep drawing. You could keep going over the circle, or fillit with a pattern, but try not to let your crayon leave the page.Don’t worry about creating a finished picture, just keep going.5

Mind 20174. Take time to focus on what you’re drawing. Focusing on thesesensations can help you quieten your mind.5. Once you have done this for a few minutes, try using adifferent colour or pattern.Variations If you’re focusing too much on getting the pattern right, tryusing your other hand. If you find it hard to get started, try using a colouring book.Take a mindful moment in natureMindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment. And spending time ingreen spaces (ecotherapy) has been found to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.Follow these steps for a new way to experience your surroundings. If you're able to walkthis can also be an opportunity get some gentle exercise, but you can do this exercisewhatever your mobility.What do Ineed?What do Ido?Just yourself and a green space – try a local park, woodland, naturereserve or just your garden.1. Find a green space. When you get there, stop for a momentand take a deep breath.2. Start exploring slowly – try not to focus on getting somewherein particular. Really focus on any movement you make. If you'rewalking, notice which part of your foot touches the ground first,and feel the transfer of weight through your foot.3. Notice the ground underneath you. Is it grass or earth? Doesthe ground feel soft? What colours can you see?4. Think about the rest of your body – how are you holding yourarms? Does the air on your face feel cold or warm?5. Listen to the sounds around you – can you hear birdsong, orwind rustling through the leaves?Variations If you can’t go to a green space, you can try opening yourwindow and noticing what’s around you. Notice any clouds inthe sky, or trees and plants you can see. Can you feel rain,wind or sun on your skin?6

Mind 2017 You could try looking after a plant. Spend time focusing on itsscent, shape and texture. You could try touching some of theleaves or soil and focusing on how it feels.Useful contactsMind's services Helplines – all our helplines provide information and support by phone and email.Our Blue Light Infoline is just for emergency service staff, volunteers and theirfamilies.o Mind’s Infoline – 0300 123 3393, [email protected] Mind’s Legal Line – 0300 466 6463, [email protected] Blue Light Infoline – 0300 303 5999, [email protected] Minds – there are over 140 local Minds across England and Wales whichprovide services such as talking treatments, peer support, and advocacy. Findyour local Mind here, and contact them directly to see how they can help.Elefriends is a supportive online community for anyone experiencing a mentalhealth problem. See our Elefriends page for details.Who else could help?Be Mindfulbemindful.co.ukInformation about mindfulness and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). Guidanceon how to learn mindfulness, including course listings.International Stress Management Associationisma.org.ukLists stress practitioners by specialist area.Mental Health Foundationmentalhealth.org.ukIncludes podcasts and videos with breathing and relaxation exercises.7

Mind 2017Mind Toolsmindtools.comInformation on topics including stress management and assertiveness.NHS Choicesnhs.ukInformation on different health problems, treatments and self-care tips, including breathingexercises.No Panichelpline: 0844 967 4848 (10am–10pm)nopanic.org.ukProvides a helpline, step-by-step programmes, support and self-care tips,including relaxation techniques.Stress Management Societystress.org.ukInformation about stress and tips on how to cope.Stressbustingstressbusting.co.ukInformation about stress and techniques for coping. Lists several talking treatments andalternative therapies that can be used to treat stress.UEL Refugee Mental Health and Wellbeing Portaluel.ac.ukUniversity of East London free resource. Includes relaxation exercises in languagesincluding English, French, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Mind October 20178

Mind 2017To be revised in 2020References are available on request.9