Learning To Relax Is A Great Idea

American Counseling Association
Photo Credit: Victoria Heath / Unsplash

You may not think of relaxing as a skill that needs to be learned.  Doesn’t relaxing just happen without our really thinking about it?

Unfortunately, thanks to the current health crisis, relaxing has become more difficult to accomplish for many.  While there have always been things that made us stressed or anxious, today’s problems really are more serious and deep reaching.

The terrible impact of COVID-19 has affected the way each of us feels, even if we haven’t been ill ourselves or know anyone who has been. It’s a 24-hour a day problem that has changed the way we live and provides constant uncertainty.  When something causes such on-going and long-lasting stress and anxiety, it can have a very real, negative impact on our health and mental well-being.

So, that makes this an excellent time to take steps to reduce that stress and anxiety, in other words, to learn to relax. One key is learning how to distract your poor over-worked brain.  With continual news reports of the pandemic, and with medical experts still far from definitive answers, stress levels stay high because you’re facing something which is invisible and over which you have virtually no control.

As a first step to relaxing more, limit your exposure to the news contributing to your worry and anxiousness. Turn off those constant TV reports and stop reading the bad news stories in the newspaper. Focus your attention on other, more positive things. Music, reading a good book, or turning to an enjoyable hobby are all ways to engage your mind without adding to your stress levels. Yes, jigsaw puzzles and bread baking actually do help.

Next, being in good shape physically can also help you better handle the pressures you may be facing. Staying physically active simply makes you feel better. Getting outdoors for a pleasant walk or jog makes it harder to stay worried about today’s bad news.  And if you find that negative thoughts start creeping back in, stop and spend a minute taking some deep breaths and focusing on pleasant things around you rather than what you can’t control.

Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and find more things to do in your life that you find enjoyable. None of this will make all the anxiety and stress disappear, but it will provide some relaxation in your life to help you achieve more balance and less distress.

“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.