Perhaps you’ve been late to work three times this week, have been struggling to get to sleep and even more so trying to wake up. Maybe you felt frazzled during in traffic, forgot to text your brother on his birthday and it’s still playing on your mind. And now you can feel that tickle in your throat that hints at an oncoming flu.

All these things are warning signs that you’re not taking care of yourself as best as you can. What you need is to put some time in your diary for relaxation. Yes, you should plan to relax.

Block out an hour in your calendar to try one of these stress-busting activities.

Do some gentle exercise

Walking, stretching and wading water are gentle exercises you can do to help get your endorphins flowing. You can also try these great muscle (and mind) relaxing exercises.

Spend time with a furry friend

Yes, you have permission to hug all the dogs, cats and bunnies you wish. Petting and cuddling a fluffy friend gives you warm ‘n’ fuzzies, quite literally.

Tune into (instrumental) music

Create a playlist of the instrumental versions of songs that make you feel calm. When you’re listening, try to tune into one of instruments being played and focus your attention on it for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat by tuning into another instrument and continue this until the song finishes. This is a type of meditative technique. You could try doing this to help ease you into sleep.

Smell a cuppa

That’s right, take a big whiff of your morning coffee or tea before you drink it. The scent of the drinks can be enough to help reduce your stress levels.A lady sits with a book and a coffee

Spend time in a garden

Various studies speak to the benefits of being in a garden without even needing to have a green thumb. Surrounding yourself with plants has been linked to physical and mental health benefits, including slowing heart rates, improving memory and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Complete a brainteaser

Solve a puzzle, crossword or Sudoku. The focus you devote to these brain-teasing activities can take your mind off your worries and give your brain a problem that has a clearer solution.  

Sing or dance

Whether you have a solo singing session in your lounge room or join a dance class, singing or dancing (or both!) to music you enjoy is a good way to unwind and boost your mood.A dance class takes place

Salute the sun

Find a sunny spot, close your eyes and lift your face towards the sun. Take slow deep breaths. Sit calmly for 10 to 15 minutes (remember to be sun-smart if you’re doing this in the warmer months).

Be grateful

Write down all the things in life that you’re grateful for. Perhaps consider doing this each day. It can help keep you mind focused on being positive so that you have a better outlook when you face a difficulty. 

Look at photos of events that you remember fondly

Dust off that old photo album to flick through or pull up your favourite snaps on your tablet. Looking at old photos from a day you enjoyed is sure to bring you joy. Better still, call someone who was at that event so you can reminisce together. A person looks at photos on the couch

Try acupressure

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need immediate relief, try acupressure. It’s a self-massage therapy that helps to balance your body’s circulation of fluids and energies. Use your thumb and index finger of your right hand to massage the soft area between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. After two-to-three minutes, switch and repeat. It can also help you use calming essential oils such as lavender.

Get wet

Have a warm bath, take a shower, dive into a pool or take a dip in the ocean; getting into water can help you to feel refreshed and relaxed (bonus points if that pool or beach is at a holiday destination!).

Find Nemo

If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, visit an aquarium and watch sea creatures gently float by.A lady wanders around in an aquarium

Create something

Draw, colour-in, paint, knit, write, cook – do any activity that helps you express your creative flair.

Take a nap

Sometimes when you’re feeling stressed, the thing you need most is sleep. If your mind is still going 100 kilometres an hour after you’ve hopped into bed, put on some calming tunes and  put your phone on aeroplane mode. Then slowly tense and release one muscle in your body at a time. You should soon be able to drift off.

Related reading: Keep your stress bucket from overflowing

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