How to chill out: 5 tips to help you relax
Your day-to-day life can often be full of stressors, such as work deadlines, household chores, and family activities that require your attention. After a long day, this can make it difficult to switch off and relax.
However, making time to unwind, particularly after a strenuous day, is important. This can help avoid a buildup of emotions such as feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or low in mood.
Try setting aside time each day to relax and take stock of your day. Here are several easy methods to consider when trying to chill out.
Journaling can be a great way to unwind after a long day. It can help you understand how you may be feeling and avoid a buildup of negative emotions.
One way to do this is through a method called “brain dumping,” which can be done in the following steps:
- Set a timer for 5-10 minutes.
- Without stopping, write about everything that is on your mind without any judgment.
- Reflect on any emotions that may have come up.
The goal of “brain dumping” is to help you feel lighter and build more self-awareness.
A 2021 study involved evaluating whether “brain dumping” is beneficial in reducing the intrinsic cognitive load in reproductive systems. Research indicated that practicing “brain dumping” and thinking about what you are grateful for could help decrease your cognitive load.
If you would rather try a different approach, you might consider beginning with a journal prompt to help you reflect on your day.
- What were the highlights of my day?
- What 3 things made me feel grateful today?
- What could have been different today?
- What could be better for tomorrow?
Consider adding journaling to your evening routine to help empty your mind of any worries before you sleep.
Spending some time in nature
Spending time in nature can provide you with an easy way to chill out. Taking a stroll for a few minutes or visiting a nature spot, such as a park or garden, can have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being.
A 2021 review of evidence indicated that nature exposure could improve several areas of your health, such as your blood pressure, sleep, cognitive function, and mental health.
Doing a body scan
When we feel stressed, we may tense or tighten our muscles without realizing we’re doing so, resulting in soreness and pain. This can be the body’s way of safeguarding against potential injury.
Common areas we may tense when stressed include our shoulders and jaw. It can be helpful to check in with yourself a few times a day and actively work to relax the body.
One way to do this is by performing a body scan, which is a form of meditation that asks you to bring your attention to each area of your body and relax your muscles. You can start at the top of your head and work your way down to the tips of your toes.
Body areas that you can focus on include your:
- lower back
Practicing deep breathing
Finding time in your day to practice deep breathing can have several health benefits, including reducing feelings of anxiety and decreasing blood pressure levels.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises that you can consider trying, such as:
- Belly breathing: Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing involves focusing on how your belly rises and fills with air as you breathe in and falls as you breathe out.
- 4-7-8 technique: This method can be done by breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and breathing out for 8 seconds.
- Lion’s Breath: Also known as Simhasana Pranayama, Lion’s Breath is a yoga tradition that originated in India. It involves stretching out all your facial muscles and breathing through your mouth as loudly as you can, imitating a lion’s roar.
Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment method that uses essential oils derived from plants to help improve your mood when they are inhaled. It is often used in wellness settings such as spas and massage clinics to provide a relaxing atmosphere.
You can try aromatherapy to chill out at home by adding a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser.
There are several essential oils that can help you unwind. They include:
- clary sage
A 2019 review found that inhaling essential oils could help alleviate symptoms of stress and depression. It was also suggested to help with pain during childbirth.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
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How to choose the right relaxation technique for you
When deciding what relaxation techniques may work best for you, it can be helpful to consider choosing a method that fits easily into your routine. This can mean you are more likely to find the time to unwind.
Consider alternating between different methods depending on what works best at the time. For example, if you usually go on a walk, but it’s suddenly raining or cold outside, it can be helpful to have another option to turn to so you are still making time to chill out.
It can also be beneficial to choose relaxation techniques that you think you will enjoy so it will not feel like a chore.
Treatment options for stress
If you find that these techniques are not helping you relax and you regularly feel stressed, consider speaking with a healthcare professional. They can identify if you may be experiencing chronic stress, meaning you feel overwhelmed for extended periods.
They may suggest a form of talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you learn how to better manage stressors in your life.
A healthcare professional may also suggest medication if your symptoms are severe and are interfering with your day-to-day life, such as getting enough sleep.
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), and citalopram (Celexa)
- beta-blockers, such as propranolol (Inderal) and acebutolol (Sectral)
- serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor)
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Finding time to relax every day can positively affect your overall health and well-being. It can help you avoid a buildup of negative emotions, such as feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed.
There are several techniques you can try to chill out, such as:
- practicing deep breathing
- spending time in nature
- trying aromatherapy
- doing a body scan
However, if you find that these methods are not helping you relax and you regularly feel stressed, consider speaking with a healthcare professional. They can talk with you about your symptoms and identify if you may be experiencing chronic stress.
Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.
- Breathing exercises. (2022). https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/breathing-exercises
- Freeman M, et al. (2019). Aromatherapy and essential oils: A map of the evidence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551017/
- Handayanie Y et al. (2021). Brain dump activities to overcome student’s intrinsic cognitive load in reproductive systems online learning. https://ejournal.upi.edu/index.php/jpmipa/article/view/37217
- Jimenez MP, et al. (2021). Associations between nature exposure and Health: A review of the evidence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8125471/
- Stress effects on the body. (2023). https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
- Stress won’t go away? Maybe you are suffering from chronic stress. (2022). https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/chronic
- Tavoian D, et al. (2023). Deep breathing exercise at work: Potential applications and impact. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9877284/