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
- 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
- Listening to music
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?