We all suffer from the pressures of life from time-to-time.
Time spent relaxing can naturally provide a great antidote.
But relaxation is an art-form in itself that needs to be learnt.
Not everyone is born a good relaxer!
Some people even find time designated for ‘relaxing’ to be terrifying — they would rather be rushing around, keeping busy.
That is only because they haven’t worked out the best way to relax yet.
Try these six steps to help open up your mind and live in the moment.
Step 1: Make time
It can be hard to make time, but believe me it will be worth it.
You will probably need an hour, although whatever time you can spare is fine.
Make sure you won’t be distracted during this time.
Step 2: Wind down
The first step is to wind down from the frenetic pace at which life is lived nowadays.
Very simple activities that allow your mind to wander free will work for this.
Cooking a familiar meal, listening to music, taking a walk — you will know what works best for you.
If you use more formal methods like progressive muscle relaxation or meditation, that is also fine.
Try to avoid alcohol for winding down — it has side-effects and makes it hard to maintain your focus.
Similarly, TV and anything too stimulating will also make it difficult for you to wind down.
The mind needs space to expand.
Step 3: Find positive emotions
Use your memory to locate positive emotions.
Focus on a good moment in your life.
It doesn’t have to be anything major, although it can be.
Simply a nice smell, the sense of satisfaction of a small job well done or even a memory from years ago will do.
Focus in on that memory for a while and let the emotion wash over you.
Explore it for as long as you like.
Step 4: Give thanks
Consider one or two things in life that you feel grateful for.
They could be anything, but people often choose relationships, such as family and friends.
Or perhaps it could be your health, or even someone who did you a small kindness recently.
Let your mind dwell on that feeling for a while.
Step 5: Wave at negative thoughts floating past
When letting the mind float free, sometimes it ends up on negative thoughts.
Try to notice these and let them go.
It is important not to push them away, but just to notice them and accept them — just as you might wave at an acquaintance as you pass them on the street.
Then gently refocus your mind to a positive thought or something you are grateful for.
Step 6: Deep focus
After a time, you will probably start to enter a more peaceful state of mind.
Here it feels like you have more time…
…and that your time is your own.
Now you have a choice.
If you are enjoying being like this, then carry on.
If you have something meditative that will maintain the state, then now is the time to turn to that.
Open a book you have been meaning to read, start a journal, draw a picture or whatever it is you are in to.
But, if you do choose an activity, make sure it is one that does not disrupt the state of deep focus.
Turning on the TV, for example, will likely ruin the moment.
Shopping online, reading the news or playing video games will not help you maintain the feeling.
Far better than any of those is to maintain the sense of deep focus for as long as you can — even if you focus on nothing more than enjoying the moment.
In fact: especially if you do nothing more than enjoy the moment.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Why not try these six steps a few times a week and see how it makes you feel….?