Those of us who are mentally ill also need to find time for GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, chemists and medications, meditation, mindfulness exercises, physical exercise and good old-fashioned relaxation. And the more we try to cram into our days the greater our stress levels and the greater our need for relaxation. Not finding some time to kick your brain into neutral is the equivalent of finding you have lung cancer and doubling the number of cigarettes you smoke every day.
Finding time might sound difficult but it’s not really that hard. I sometimes use my morning commute to do 30 minutes of controlled breathing and meditation. Throughout my working day I find a few minutes to do some mindfulness exercises. They’re simple things you can do without the need for any equipment other than your five senses. For example, take two minutes out, close your eyes and just listen. If you really concentrate you’ll be surprised just how many layers of sound you’ll hear. Similarly, two minutes of concentrated looking will reveal things you may never normally see as you go about your daily schedule.
As for physical exercise, after work I get 40 minutes exercise by walking to a railway station, three suburbs away from work. All of this helps me lower my pulse, alleviate stress and leave me a little more relaxed. Better still, I don’t need a gym membership, personal trainer or fancy pedometer. All I need is me.
No matter whether it’s a bit of bushwalking, a swim, some yoga or chasing your dog around the park, when you find something you enjoy and helps quiet your mind, schedule it in your diary. Seriously, in the same way you note important work or social events in your diary do the same for relaxation. If you don’t, it becomes another good intention that remains exactly that. Good relaxation techniques reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood and help you sleep more soundly. So put it in your diary, commit to it and give your brain a break.
Here are some great tips to help you make the most of your time:
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