Relaxing: for beginners

As this is one of my first reflective pieces, I would like to begin by sharing what I do when I want to relax or need time away from work.

Relaxing doesn't come easily to many of us in today's crazy and demanding society. Everywhere you go there are people. objects, and screens distracting you, giving you something to do.

Sometimes we all need time away from the rush of everyday life. Here's how I relax when I get the chance.

1. Contact a friend

This might be a friend I haven't seen or spoken to in a long time, or someone I saw the other day, but either way making time to chat to people you care about can really boost your mood, even if you've had a bad day or you're really tired.

Keeping in contact with friends is so important to me. I usually try to catch them on the phone, but even just a message and exchanging dates for a meet up is positive.

2. Read a book

I will admit that getting back into reading properly after my degree was hard. As an avid reader while I was growing up, I never thought I would stop doing it. But studying English at university meant ploughing through four books a week for my course, so I never felt like reading even more as well as that.

Then, when I graduated, I realised I had completely got out of the habit of choosing books for myself and reading every day. Life was hectic with moving and starting work, and soon a few months passed and I had barely read one book.

Luckily, I've recently rediscovered how much I love it, and now I read every day, even if it's just while I'm commuting or before I go to bed. I'm glad to be on track and ticking off my reading list again because reading really helps me forget any worries and put life into perspective.

3. Self-care

Do you ever look at the pile of creams, make-up, and face masks you've managed to build up from Christmas presents and those times you got tempted by offers in Boots and think 'I'll save them for another day', then never get round to it? Me too! Except recently I've started actively using these luxury products to help me relax.

When I've had an particularly long day, my favourite thing to do is cook up a delicious dinner, stick on a well-loved film, and work my way through my beauty collection while I watch it, from nail-painting to tanning lotion. The whole procedure just leaves me feeling fresh and ready for the world.

4. Gentle exercise

When I say this, I mean exercise classes like yoga and Pilates, or going for a walk. An activity which gets your body moving and your muscles stretching without making them scream at you. I enjoy the kind of exercise that makes you sweat (most of the time) but I wouldn't say it relaxes me as such.

Calmer exercise, which involves stretching and strengthening can do wonders to help remove you from a stressful day at work and help you relax.

5. Shopping

I imagine you think I've gone a bit mad somewhere between point number 4 and number 5. Shopping isn't relaxing, right? But when I'm in the right mood, I really enjoy walking around London exploring and venturing into shops, whether on my own or with people.

What I'm trying to say is when you plan you 'me-time', do what makes you truly happy. If that's lying in the garden looking at the stars, do it. If it's watching back to back episodes of a television show you like, do that. Spend your precious time in whatever ways make you happy.