Ways to relax

Knowing how to chill out and relax is really important for your mental and physical health, particularly if you’re finding something a bit stressful. Find out info on different ways people relax, learn about breathing techniques, and what to do if you’re finding it hard to chill out.

This can help if:

  • You’re feeling stressed
  • You’re feeling anxious
  • Your life has been really busy

Why it’s important to chill out

Relaxation is really important for your mental health and wellbeing. Everyone needs time in their everyday lives to chill out and enjoy themselves, but it’s easy to forget this when things get busy.  If you know how to relax, and make an effort to actually relax when you need to, it can be a great coping strategy to help you when you’re stressed out. People who are able to relax are more likely to bounce back from tough times, tend to be happier, have better physical health and are less likely to develop serious mental health difficulties.

How to chill out

There are a lot of different things you can do to relax and chill out. A lot of forms of relaxation, like walking and sitting quietly, are really simple, easy to do, and don’t take much time. Others require more discipline and some training. Everyone will find some strategies for relaxation work better than others. The best thing to do is try out some of the suggestions below and make the ones that best fit your lifestyle a regular habit.

Some relaxation activities include:
  • Going for a walk
  • Taking some time out and really focussing on what’s happening around you
  • Listening to quiet and relaxing music, which impacts your heart rate
  • Going fishing
  • Playing your favourite sport
  • Taking a bath
  • Going to a movie or watching a DVD
  • Focussing your attention on a puzzle
  • Reading a book
  • Learning yoga or meditation
  • Practicing meditation

Practicing breathing techniques

When you’re stressed out or feeling anxious, your breathing speeds up, and becomes shallow, reducing how much oxygen reaches your organs. Learning breathing techniques is a great way of preventing you from experiencing the physiological symptoms of anxiety. To learn how to breathe efficiently:

  • Become aware of your breathing. Place one hand on your upper chest and one on your stomach. Breathe in so that your stomach rises, and then falls back as you breathe out. The hand on your chest shouldn’t move too much.
  • Get a steady rhythm of breathing. Try and take in the same amount of air each time you breathe in.
  • If you’ve managed the two steps above, try and slow your breathing rate down. Add a short pause between when you finish breathing out, and when you take another breath.

It might not feel totally comfortable at first, as it can sometimes feel like you’re not getting quite enough air. But if you practice regularly it should begin to feel comfortable and easy.

If you’re finding it really hard to relax

  • Sometimes it can be really hard to unwind. It seems kind of ironic to get stressed out about not being able to chill out to reduce stress, but it can be a frustrating experience.
  • If a particular technique isn’t working try another one. It might also help if you have space away from other people in which to relax, to prevent being distracted.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 03 June, 2016
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