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Just relax. Saturday June 13, 2015

Two words people say to me that are guaranteed to make me feel tense and stressed are 'just relax' or the more modern version 'just chill!'

Now I admit I may overthink, worry a bit, like planning ahead and I do like asking questions but I think I am relaxed in my own way. When people tell me to relax, I feel my jaw tensing, my teeth clenching and my smile disappearing.

Believe me I have taken advice on how to relax. Over the years I have tried lots of different strategies including hypnosis(I just fell asleep) meditation (I laughed too much) mindfulness (I thought too much), but none have had any effect besides making me feel more stressed because I could not even learn to be less stressed!

I had tried yoga years ago and enjoyed the non competitive nature so when I found a book that was about Yoga for oldies I decided to try the exercises. What I liked about the book was there was no Lycra in sight and that the people in the photos were in their 50s to 80s. For a few days I followed warm-ups and gentle exercises and felt the calming effect. The only problem was trying to follow the book doing the routines then back to the book so it was suggest I buy a DVD, Yoga for beginners.

It started well, a soothing voice with an instructor in loose flowing clothes(no Lycra!). I was feeling calm and in tune with my breath. The routines progressed very quickly and soon my right leg was being asked to be a put in a place that was impossible for my aging body and asked for me to smile at the same time! I felt the tears coming, all the emotions of being no good at anything physical surfacing but I took a deep breath an did some stretching exercises waiting to catch up (which did not happen until end of the DVD!)

When I was on my daily walk in the bush (how lucky am I) I realised I already did something that calmed me and made me smile. Walking needs no equipment can be done inside or out and every level of fitness can do it.

Relaxation is not a one size fits all. If trying to relax is stressful you need to try something else.

The next time someone tells me to just relax, I will smile because I already know how to chill. Do you?

A Moodscope member.

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crafty wee midden Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 6:48am

Loved that, Leah, for several reasons.....firstly, very practical(one of my pet hates is when ?Im told "Be strong/just relax/etc, as you said....not only foes it have the opposite effect, but they never say HOW to do whatever they suggest)....and for making me smile, bringing back some memories of my own attempts: I still nod off when I try to meditate; and the times I've tried it lying in the floor, well, it's just not possible when a cat sticks his/her bum in your face, or bites your toes, or jumps on your tummy, or other such. And shutting them out only means miaows and scraping to get in( "Mammy, what are you doing? We need to be part of it...."....)
Thank you for the wonderful combination of practicality and smile. Very, very much appreciated.

Leah Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 7:29am

Thanks for making me smile too. I love the picture of your cat. I don't have a cat now but remember trying to meditate with a child sticking a tonka truck near my nose! I appreciate the time you took to write such a detailed and personal response. It means a lot to me.

Julia Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 7:43am

I just wrote a comment Leah and it disappeared before I'd had time to save it. Aaaaargh! I am going to have my breakfast now and then rewrite it.

Anna Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 9:50am

I'm with you all the way there Leah! People think I'm mad when I walk miles just to chill-they've obviously not tried it!!! Keep on walking!

Leah Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 10:21am

Thanks Anna. I think whatever helps -and everyone needs to find the thing that helps them to chill. For us it is walking. Leah

Anonymous Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 11:16am

Waliking is the best form of relaxing, especially walking in the country or as in my case the wilderness of the Highlands of scotland. I also practice Tai Chi - that does require classes and training with instructors but once you've learnt the form it is so good for body and mind.

Julia Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 12:27pm

Hi Leah. Often people say just relax when they can't be bothered or are unable to do something which might really help us. It really irritates me too. It doesn't take much effort to say or do something else which is 100 times more helpful. I love walking too and riding my bike. After breakfast today I went to collect a new one and brought it back on the train after cycling along the sea front in the bracing wind. Now that's what I call relaxing.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 12:35pm

Ha! Have been told to chill this morning...I wanted to stick my pen in his eyes! Grr and double grr!
Will just go walk the dog!

Anonymous Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 3:02pm

Agree, it's such a useless phrase! The other one I dislike is "you'll be fine". And I agree with Julia, I think it's because of a lack of knowing how to reply, to any given situation not just low mood. Just proper ears is often enough. Love ratg x.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 3:06pm

Brilliant! I love cycling...only I now have a fear of bikes after a small (tiny!) accident and so haven't cycled for over 20years! I still remember the feeling though...wonderful! Love ratg x.

Julia Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 4:00pm

Hi ratg 20 years is a long time not to do something you really like but I understand fear! You kindly asked me a day or so ago, how I was. I am fine today thank you but the past few weeks haven't been good.I am totally on my own this weekend after weeks of what seemed like duty interactions with other people so I am doing exactly as I please for two days. Bliss.

Christine Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 5:46pm

I agree with you completely Leah, I have tried Yoga, am still trying to get to grips with mindfulness!! watch this space! thanks I am definitely going to try walking more!! from Christine

leah Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 10:49pm

Thanks Julia and ratg,
always love your comments. Julia people think they are being helpful . Enjoy your new bike. Julia your words always touch me. Thanks.I am glad you are feeling better today.
Ratg, , I am sure when the time is right you may try cycling again. Leah

Leah Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 10:55pm

Thanks anon 12.35 ratg and Christine,
I appreciate your comments.
Ratg, I know I am also guilty of saying words to people that probably aren't helpful, I will watch out in future.-I used to say things could be worse!
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to comment.

David Jarvis Sat, Jun 13th 2015 @ 11:15pm

Thanks for this Leah.
I like to walk to relax as well. It just seems to free the mind and let a bit of air and space in there amongst the worries and stresses. I do quite a bit of other exercise and that helps too but there's something about a relaxed stroll that releases the mind.
Totally agree that relaxation is personal thing though, like so many other subjects. I'm usually dubious of one-size-fits all methods.
I think you can be proud of having tried so many different techniques. Even if you felt you had no choice because of a pressing need, it still takes courage to try.

Jo Mon, Jun 15th 2015 @ 10:26am

Yes, walking is great. I have a dog so there's nothing like an hour or so of walking in the countryside, whatever the weather. Mindfulness is good too but I struggle to find time in the day to give to it and it something you have to do regularly to benefit from it.

Laura Wed, Jun 17th 2015 @ 9:53pm

I first learned of mindfulness in a mental health treatment group I was in around 2002. At the time, I thought it was corny; however, I now realize how helpful it can be in managing my moods and staying positive. I found a great website just a couple weeks ago that teaches you (simply) about meditation and has many guided meditations you can follow along with, so that has been helpful as well. ( Walking helps me, too, but it is still very difficult to talk myself into it most days. And I have been wanting to try yoga for many years, but I've never taken the leap. Stress sucks, eh?

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