Wednesday, 18 November 2020

10 Easy Ways to Relax in Just 10 Minutes

A lady in silhouette from behind in a cross legged yoga pose
 When we entered lockdown back in March, everyone talked about having so much free time, but this wasn't the case for everyone. We might have been home more, but educating children, working from home, and other new unforeseen demands all meant that for some, life never really slowed down. Now we're back in another lockdown, and it's worse because many are still at work, but the kids are getting sent home for isolation, so there's that, Christmas needs preparing for, with pressure to make this Christmas special to make up for the rubbish year (especially for me, because my son's birthday was the first day of the first lockdown and it sucked!) and it's all so stressful!! Here are ten ways to relax in just ten minutes. I'll be over here, under a blanket.

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Sounds obvious, we all do it. If we didn't we'd have a much less relaxing time. However, how you do it makes a difference. When we're stressed, or busy, we tend to rely on shallower breaths because we're not paying much attention to what our bodies can take care of unsupervised. You really benefit from oxygen, though, so sometimes it pays to spend a few minutes slowing down your breathing and taking long, deep breaths. When you slow down your breathing, your body will begin to relax and the deep breaths will mean you take in more oxygen, making you feel more energised. There are a world of deep breathing exercises online and here is a stress-reducing exercise from the NHS to start you off.


I know I've mentioned this before, but it is genuinely one of my favourite ways to relax. It's probably a mindfulness thing, but I just like it because it gives me something else to focus on, instead of 'trying to relax'. Close your eyes and spend ten minutes silently listening and see if you can count ten different sounds. You'll start with the easy ones; 'car', 'clock', 'lawnmower', but then you'll have to try a little harder and focus on the tiny details you might normally miss. I have a weirdly creaky pillow at the moment, so that's an easy win for me, but you might be surprised how noisy your quiet place actually is. 


It's free, accessible to everyone, and it's good for your breathing, so what's not to love? Ok, potentially the weather, but grab your big coat and go for it anyway. Rain is good for your hair and a good gust of wind will refresh you. Wondering if it's worth going out for ten minutes because you won't get very far? Try walking faster! You could challenge yourself to go a little further each day, it would have so many health benefits, including getting some much-needed vitamin D if the sun does make an appearance. 


Particularly in the mornings, Yoga is a great way to relax and energise. You don't need any special equipment, just a yoga mat and a quiet space. It doesn't have to be that hard, either, although I know from my own experience that really experienced yoga practitioners can seem quite intimidating, if you pick an easy routine and learn it, doing the same one every day if necessary, in the non-judgemental comfort of your own home, yoga can be accessible to most of us. This Beginners 10 Minute Yoga Workout on YouTube is a great place to start. 

A lady in a black lycra outfit, in Cobra yoga pose

Bouncing/ Rebounding

Ok, you do need special equipment for this one, but I'm including it because you might already have it. All you need is a trampoline. You can use a little sports trampoline, designed especially for rebounding, or you can use the kids' trampoline in the garden. The objective is to bounce. You don't necessarily have to bounce high, small bounces are fine, provided your feet leave the ground. The idea is for your body to experience increased gravitational load, which is beneficial to your lymph systems, helping to flush out toxins. It also gives you a high impact workout in a short time. NASA discovered that rebounding as a fitness exercise is more than twice as effective as running, so you can achieve a lot in those ten minutes, including releasing the all-important endorphins that come with good exercise and lift your mood naturally. There's more information on Rebounding over on the Goop website


If Yoga seems a bit advanced for you, a basic stretch routine also offers a world of benefits, as well as being really easy and probably achieved in less than ten minutes. If you've ever seen a dog or cat indulge in a really good, satisfying stretch, you will already be aware that there is definitely something to be said for it. Here are some basic stretching exercises if you are not sure where to start and, if you are in any way unsure, start gently and consult your doctor or physiotherapist if you need to.




Different to breathing, because this is about what you breathe, not how you breathe. It might make sense to combine the two, but the point is to focus on what you need to help you relax. It might be a particular scent or one that's traditionally relaxing like camomile. It might be that you just need to throw open the windows and breathe fresh air for a few minutes. You could make yourself a soothing cup of herbal tea and enjoy the scent of that as you drink it, whatever floats your relaxation boat, it's about taking time out for yourself, even just for a few minutes. 


This is something I have never felt I'm terribly good at. I feel like I lack the concentration, but maybe I'm overthinking it. Fortunately, in the age of technology, there's an app for that. Many, many apps, in fact, but the one that has been recommended to me most often is Headspace, which promises to make meditation and sleep simple. I resolve to give it a try, since so many people have told me how good it is and I do have a reputation for suffering from insomnia. 


This is something else I've mentioned previously, because I really believe it helps. Just pick a drawer, or a box of junk, or someone's Lego, and give it a reorganise. There really is nothing simpler for clearing the mind. Yesterday, I was struggling with a blog post I was writing. I don't know why, but the words just wouldn't come. It was late and I was getting more and more stressed, so I stopped and spent 10 minutes tidying my desk and I really felt it refocused my brain. If you are so super tidy you don't have anything to tidy; can I come and live with you? Also, try doing a puzzle as it has a similar effect on me. 


Writing takes many forms, people find different types of writing therapeutic, such as journalling, making lists, writing an angry letter to an ex, whatever brings your blood pressure down. Personally, I favour writing down ideas for novels I will probably never write, it doesn't really matter, just unload your brain onto some paper and continue on with your day with a spring in your metaphorical step, unburdened by the weird stuff that was rattling round unfiled in your head. I have just done all of this writing so I'm feeling very relaxed now and will probably fall asleep shortly. Good night. 

Pinterest image lady slightly faded out in a cross legged yoga pose

Top Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Malleret on Unsplash
Pinterest Photo by Katee Lue on Unsplash

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