Sunday, 22 October 2017

Learning to relax


Last month, after several months of problems and pain with my jaw, I was finally diagnosed with TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder. As I said in that post, one of the big things the Doctor told me to do was to learn to relax and de-stress and to improve my quality of sleep.  


Relaxing and trying to keep myself stress free are two of the hardest things for me. For as long as I can remember, I have felt on edge and that I can't fully unwind. I'm a big worrier and have anxiety and depression which both play their part. I'm a big worrier and over analyse things.  Since the appointment though, I have been making the effort to do things that relax me in the hope it helps me to feel better.  



Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Some of the things I've been doing, or trying to do, on a regular basis include:

Reading - I've always loved reading and getting immersed in a good book. 

Colouring - I love colouring! Whether its colouring books for grown ups or one of the kids books and its the one thing I try to sit down and do with the girls. If I'm feeling particularly stressed, I'll sit down with a colouring book in the evening too... with my good pens/pencils that I hide from the kids!

Pottering in the garden - admittedly, I've not been able to do anywhere near as much of this as I like recently with the weather being so poor. I've been really surprised this year at just how much I've enjoyed being out there, clearing the weeds, planting the seedlings that I've grown and watching them come to life. Now the dark nights are upon us and with the change in weather there's no need for it, but something I find incredibly relaxing is getting outside late in the evening, when its nice and quiet and the air is cool and watering the garden. 

Getting my craft on - I've been able to spend a good amount of time on this recently, which has been lovely and I'm hoping to share more soon!  It has been great being able to sit down and work at something, concentrating and forgetting whats going on around me.

Soaking in the bath -  filled with bubbles and using all the toiletries.

Listening to music -  D recently decided that we had to have an Alexa at home and I really wasn't sold on it... until we got it home, hooked it up and signed up for the music library. With 10,000 songs to hand, its been fab for just playing the odd song that I've not heard for ages.  

With two young children, I'm not sure I'll ever be stress free and I'm sure this will always be something I need to work at but, in a bid to find some new techniques to try, I asked a group of bloggers what they recommended:

Elizabeth - "... I do mindfulness meditation. Its a way of encouraging you to be aware of internal and external experience - thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, including breathing - that can quieten the mind and relieve tension. Focusing on and accepting these experiences can improve the flexibility and control of your attention and reduce distress and discomfort." 

Jess - "... ASMR! It's amaazing! I wrote a post about it...."

Kelly - "... I say no. So, if I'm feeling very overwhelmed I don't plan or book anything in, and I cancel some things if I think I will find it too stressful until I feel healed again. I also focus inwards on my family, lots more cuddles, reading, long dog walks, not rushing about and eventually I sort myself out. I think I've learnt over the years that this works for me, it doesn't mean it will work for everyone. I do feel rejuevenated afterwards though!"

Sophie "... I meditate! Took me a while to get into it but it completely changed my life!! It's really good for stopping your mind and helping me to sleep!"

Pete - "... I end up playing video games once my children have gone to bed. Possibly because it reminds me of being a teenager again when I had no responsibilities. I can just sit on my own little world for an hour or so before my wife and I watch TV before we go to sleep."

Nicola - "... I put on one of my favourite box sets. I like to zone out by immersing myself in the drama of Grey's Anatomy or Nurse Jackie. Quite often, I have a good cry too (I get VERY attached to the characters!) which alleviates a lot of my stress."

Alina - "... I do yoga, just from home on YouTube, it really helps me relax and is good exercise too."

Samantha - "... listen to music. Its an instant mood lifter for me. Most nights I like in bed with my earphones in listening to music for about half an hour before going to sleep. It really helps me to relax and unwind."

Emily - "... I go running. It's a great way to just forget about your troubles, relax and enjoy being out in nature."


Holly - "... Knitting! It was my saviour when I suffered with antenatal depression and anxiety - learning how to knit took all my concentration so I couldn't let my mind wander elsewhere.  I love the feeling of achievement when you finish something and you can be proud you've made it yourself. That said, you're more likely to find me with a glass of wine in hand than my knitting needles!"

I think you'll agree, there's some great suggestions here.  I know that exercise is a great stress buster, I just wish it was a habit I had got in to when I was younger! Still, its something I try to persevere with.  Knitting, I've never been any good at, I just can't get past those first few stitches, no matter how hard I try. I do, however, agree with Holly that the total concentration means you're locked into the moment. Meditation and mindfulness is something I've tried a number of times and I just don't think its for me, I end up feeling fidgety and agitated whenever I've tried it. 

How do you relax and de-stress? What suggestions would you add?
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