What is Active Relaxation?

This post was originally published on 19th January 2019 and updated on 14th November 2021.

We all know what relaxation is, even if we’re not very good at it, but how about active relaxation? The words alone seem to contradict themselves, yet active relaxation can be as good for us as any other form of relaxation.

In fact, I think we’re a lot more experienced in active relaxation than we perhaps realise.

I’m not always very good at slowing down and relaxing, even at weekends. My brain tends to think that days doing very little are days wasted. The only time I really stop is when I’m sick or injured, and even then, I try to carry on for as long as possible. 

Life is short, and there is a whole world to explore. 

As much as I wholeheartedly believe that life is too short, I definitely wouldn’t recommend not taking rest, as this is why I so often fall into the burnout trap! It’s important to get rest, and not just while we’re sleeping!

Active relaxation, however, doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing. It’s all about doing things that relax your mind, which can be just as important as doing something to relax your body. 

Sometimes we need to be active to feel good and to rejuvenate our minds.

Some of my favourite ways to practice active relaxation are:

  • Going for a walk and getting some fresh air
  • Exercising
  • Gardening
  • Baking
  • Making cards

During each of these activities, I’m being physically active, but because my mind is focusing on the task at hand, it free’s itself from the stresses of day to day life. 

When I’m following a recipe or deadheading flowers or being mindful of my breathing, my mind can be completely free. 

I also find writing another great way to practice active relaxation. Transferring my thoughts from my mind into a blog post helps to clear my mind. It allows me to process information and helps me to question my thoughts whilst also helping me understand my thoughts better. It frees up some headspace and makes my mind a much happier and more relaxed place to be.

These techniques don’t just help us to relax. They help us to de-stress, feel calmer, and help to make us feel more centred.

Other techniques to try could include:

  • Colouring in
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Knitting
  • Painting

If you are new to active relaxation, try using one of these techniques for just a few minutes. Build up the time you spend on the activity over time until it becomes part of your daily/weekly routine. 

As much as I find it tricky to sit and do nothing, active relaxation appears to be something I practise a lot without even realising it. It helps me to relax yet also leaves me feeling super productive. 

How good are you at relaxing? Will you be giving active relaxation a try? Perhaps you already practice active relaxation? If so, why not share your practice/s below?

Enjoying the great outdoors is one of my favourite ways of practicing active relaxation

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Yea. Recreation is best form of resting.


  2. Vanessa says:

    (I wanted to comment the other day but could only ‘like’ the post 🙈) I find this topic very interesting. There are a couple of studies showing that active relaxation is actually better than just sitting on the sofa binging series (and cake). Even if we are very tired for any reason, as soon as we start to move and do something active, it feels so much nicer afterwards… And having fun with recipes sounds a perfect way of putting it in practise! I keep looking at that amazing chicken 😹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vanessa says:

      Oh my god, I’m messed up – I thought my other comment didn’t have been submitted and I gave up trying commenting on the app the other day (which apparently was 1 day ago… I’m mental 😹)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Becky says:

        😂 got there in the end ☺️😁

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Becky says:

      It is a very interesting topic, and makes total sense. If we can all practice things like mindful cooking or even things like gardening, walking etc, activities that either help us to process our thoughts, or to sometimes not think at all, I really think it improves the state of mind and in turn relaxes us. I don’t know about you, but more often than not it is the thoughts that run through our minds that causes us stress and exhaustion as opposed to the using too much physical energy. Although I can definitely see the benefits to an occasional day of doing nothing at all! I will have to send you the recipe for the chicken 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Vanessa says:

        That’s so true 🙈 That’s exactly my problem – a lot of energy consumed by a locomotive of thoughts. More exhausting than doing a session on the 5k app 😅 Hurray to the chicken recipe!!! 🍗 (I’m so hungry now 😄)


  3. Vanessa says:

    This chicken looks amazing 🤩 Sometimes is nice to “do nothing” 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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