Whether it’s trying to unwind after a long day at the office, or seeking for an escape from a stressful situation, it’s important to find constructive ways to relax. Though many people’s first instinct is to pull out their phone for a quick pick-me-up, one study of smartphone use shows that overuse of your smartphone can actually increase your stress level. When you’re constantly checking your social media posts or searching for the latest apps to download, your mind can feel restless.
Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy ways to relax that don’t include using your phone. If you’re stressed out and looking for some ways to genuinely give your mind and body the rest and relaxation they need, plug your smartphone into the charger, walk away and try some of the following suggestions.
Go for a walk outdoors.
As simple as it sounds, getting outside the house and into the great outdoors can have a therapeutic effect on your psyche. Something about the serene sights, sounds and smells of nature can help us get our minds off of our problems. This is especially true when you leave your phone in your pocket and aren’t stopping to check messages along the way. If you live in a wooded area or near a park, taking your walk in a natural setting can make it even more relaxing. Plus, getting more vitamin D can boost your spirits. Just 15 minutes in the sun fulfills your recommended daily amount of vitamin D.
Create a work of art.
Whether it’s composing a piece of music, coloring in an adult coloring book, throwing a pot on a pottery wheel or writing a poem, one of the best ways to spend time relaxing is engaging in some form of artistic expression. Creating art is relaxing because it can cause you to concentrate on an absorbing activity and not on whatever problems are causing you to feel stress. Whatever form of artistic endeavor you prefer, take time out of your busy schedule to let your creative juices flow. If you’re not the artistic type, experiment until you find something that eases your mind. You don’t have to become a great artist to benefit from art therapy.
Play games with friends and family.
In the days before technology took over, playing board games and other party games may have been the most common way for people to let their hair down, have fun and alleviate stress. If sitting at home alone on your phone playing games isn’t helping you to relax, get together with a few good friends and play some good old-fashioned cards, charades or Scrabble. One benefit to playing games in person as opposed to on your phone is that live interaction spurs energy and enthusiasm. An ancient proverb teaches that laughter is like natural medicine. For extroverts, playing games can be especially relaxing given the interaction with people, which is how extroverts draw energy.
Read a book for fun.
While Googling about anything and everything on our phones can gratify our curiosity about the world around us, curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea or coffee offers a deeper sense of relaxation. Which genre of book encourages the most relaxation will vary from person to person. Some people feel most relaxed when learning factual information from a historical record, biography or encyclopedia. Others enjoy being drawn into a captivating story in a suspenseful thriller or classic drama. Books afford a healthy escape from the pressures of your work and daily life. Though anyone can relax with reading, introverts will likely find spending time alone with a good book particularly rewarding.
Make time for regular exercise.
Exercise does more than keep you physically fit. It can also lift your spirits and relax your mind. That’s because exercise reduces cortisol and adrenaline, which are hormones known to cause stress. It also produces endorphins, giving you a euphoric feeling of optimism. Whether you choose a brisk walk, run, bike ride, swim, gym routine or other vigorous workout, you’ll probably find that relaxation is one of the primary benefits you experience from your exercise regimen. Though building the habit of regular exercise might be difficult at first, the rewards you’ll reap in the long run are well worth the effort of forming this healthy habit.
Do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word searches or other brain-stimulating activities.
You may have plenty of apps on your phone for word and brain-teaser puzzles, but doing them with a real piece of paper and pen offer a couple of unique benefits. First, you’re less likely to get interrupted while you’re doing a crossword – at least from email alerts or social media notifications. Uninterrupted concentration will help your mind relax and solve the problem at hand, which can be gratifying. Second, word and number puzzles offer a quiet challenge that stimulates your mind. If you play on a phone or tablet, you’ll likely get distracted by other things, not to mention the glow of the screen itself. Find hard copies of these classic brain teasers, and spend some quiet time working out the clues.
Engage in prayer and meditation.
Praying can help some people find purpose in life and feel relief from anxiety. It can also instill in people a sense of hope that they’ll find resolutions to their problems. Prayerful people tend to find comfort in reaching out to a higher purpose. Likewise, meditation or deep breathing techniques can also help people to clear their minds and focus. If your brain feels overloaded, try prayer or meditation to relax.
Spend quality time with someone whose company you enjoy.
Whether it be your spouse, best friend or a close family member, just being with someone you love can help you to relax. When you’re stressed out and alone, you might spend too much time rehashing the day’s problems. Getting together with a kindred spirit for coffee, shopping, a movie or trip to the museum enables you to unwind with someone who cares about your wellbeing. Even if your loved one doesn’t have any answers, just being there for you might be enough encouragement to get through tougher times. Feeling alone on top of stressed is a surefire way to keep living under a cloud of doubt and anxiety. Sharing your troubles with others will help alleviate the pressure.