Since an early age, we have been taught to look after our dental health. We have created a daily habit of brushing our teeth, morning and night, to avoid long-term damage. The process is quick, easy and we slot it into our daily routine.
So why can it be so hard to do the same for our mental health? People often say they don’t have the time or it’s ‘not their thing’, however, a daily investment in our own wellbeing can also have long-term health benefits.
Having worked in the corporate world, I appreciate how hard it can be to prioritise ourselves and our own health. Work emails, deadlines, meetings and conference calls can all take up our time, with little chance to relax and divert the mind away from our daily agendas.
In order to perform at our best, we need to have clarity of mind and be able to feel calm under pressure.
Below is a list of 6 short exercises that can help you relax in the time it would take to brush your teeth. Of course, feel free to do them for longer if you enjoy them!
Try these short stress-relieving exercises:
1. Take time to breathe – Count down slowly from 10. With each number take one complete breath. Inhale as you say the number 10, and then exhale. On the next breath, say ‘9’ as you inhale and exhale and continue until you reach zero. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
2. Listen to a favourite song – Find a quiet place, close your eyes, put in some headphones (if you have them) and listen to a song that evokes a happy memory. Imagine yourself back in that memory and allow that feeling of pleasure to spread across your body.
3. Take a short walk in nature – Nature is known to be an antidote to stress, so find a green space, look around and use your senses to notice the sounds, smells and sights around you. Focus on these for as long as you can. By bringing your attention away from your daily tasks and towards nature, you can start to switch off the constant inner chatter.
4. Get moving – Exercise is known to reduce stress. You may not have time for a long run or cycle, but every half an hour, try and get up from your desk and take a walk around. You might want to go up and down some stairs, do 20 squats, go outside in the fresh air or just get up to make a cup of coffee.
5. Start doodling – This might have been something disallowed in school, but allowing the mind to wander for a few minutes and just letting your pen flow is a wonderful way of distracting your thoughts away from issues that are causing stress. Release that inner child!
6. Try a tension release exercise – Stand up from your chair with your feet shoulder distance apart. Bring both your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Inhale through your nose, clench your fists and then tense every muscle in your body from your head to your toes. Hold this for 5 seconds, exhale, release the fists and bring the arms back down by your sides. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
Finding the time to look after our mental health is as important as caring for our dental health.
Choose one or two short exercises and add them on to an existing habit to make it easier to remember to do them. For example, after brushing your teeth, do the breathing exercise, or, when putting on the kettle, do 20 squats. Make the process easy, otherwise, it’s hard to keep going.
Sophrology gives you the tools to be able to relax, de-stress and feel inner calm on a daily basis. Have a listen to the audio exercise on my Home page for instant inner calm.