Do you find yourself racing through life, unable to slow down, and struggling to switch off at the end of the day? To unwind, you needn’t set aside an hour each evening for deep meditation and zen-style chanting, as there are simple mindfulness techniques that can be done anywhere to instantly relax, reduce anxiety and destress, preparing you for a restful evening.
Take a deep breath
There are ways of breathing that can energise you, and, similarly, there are breathing techniques that can send you into a state of blissful sleepiness. Try this technique just before bedtime as, after 5-10 minutes of breathing like this, you’ll be ready to drift off into a nice, restful sleep.
Place both hands on your stomach and feel your belly expand and contract. Continue breathing this way, making your belly as big as possible, and see if you can keep the chest still while you do this. Deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and reduces the sympathetic nervous system, which is what sends you into "fight or flight" mode. Use your lungs to their full capacity and breathe as deeply as possible. Make each breath slower and more controlled than the last, counting to steady the pace. Extending each exhalation will help to lower your heart rate and relax your muscles.
Instead of constantly thinking about what you are going to do next, be where you are right now. This is a simple mindfulness trick that focuses your mind on the present moment and reduces anxiety regarding future or past events – plus, it’s simple to do and can be practiced at any time. No matter how mundane the task, try to enjoy it instead of constantly looking forward, or thinking about the past. Whether you’re having a cup of tea at the end of the day, washing the dishes, or changing the bed, stay in that moment and find pleasure in it.
On a Similar Note
Sit in silence
We are so used to being overstimulated these days that it is difficult to just do nothing. See if you can simply be with no form of entertainment. This can actually be intimidating for many of us, so start slow by trying not to pull out your phone while you’re drifting off to sleep. Eventually, you might work up to having a dedicated 15 minutes or half an hour before bed where you can just sit and be. This is, essentially, a form of meditation. And don’t worry if your mind wanders, allow yourself to acknowledge all thoughts and then bring yourself back to the present moment.
We’re always trying to do so much before realising that we are not actually getting anything done. After a stressful day at the office, trying to tackle a to-do list at home will likely result in frustration. There’s always something to be doing, but you’ll get more done if you focus on one task at a time. So, when you’ve got a million things to do after work, prioritise them, focus on the top three tasks, and ignore the rest. Switch your phone to airplane mode and ignore emails when getting jobs done. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and, hopefully, some time to relax without feeling guilty.
Ashley Hunt is a Wellness Coach & Meditation Teacher, and part of the team behind Balance Festival. Find free guided meditations on her YouTube channel and download her free eBook, The Essential Guide to Wellness.