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.