How to Relax at Home: Staying Active & Unwinding

The idea of staying home for any extended period of time can be quite daunting and overwhelming, especially during these unprecedented times. Even with all the confusion that’s currently occurring, there’s now an added pressure to be more productive than ever due to the extra time you may now have in isolation.

Rather than staying in bed and working in your PJs, why not embrace this opportunity to focus on your physical and mental health? Work and family can take up a majority of your attention, which is why it is essential to own your time and make the most out of what you have. Incorporating simple workouts and healthy habits into your busy routine will not only benefit your physical well being, but it can also improve your mental health. Whether staying active may be doing pushups and situps in your living room or having a mini dance party as you cook, there are plenty of ways to stay active and relax even when you can’t go outside!

Staying Active

Mental stress can often lead to feeling physically stressed. Staying active can relieve any physical tension in your mind and body, and can actually help you feel more motivated and productive throughout your day. In fact, exercising can actually improve the quality of your sleep, enhance your memory, and boost your moods. 

You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to see a difference in your physical and mental state. Research has shown that moderate amounts of exercise is a powerful remedy for common mental health issues, and can positively impact the symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other conditions. Regardless of your age or fitness level, staying active is not only a great way to stay fit, but it’s also remarkable in enhancing your confidence and building a positive mental image of yourself! Here are 3 simple and creative ways to make the best of your time and keep moving:

1. Try a workout from any video you have at home or even online!

Even if you may not have time to dedicate a full hour to working out, 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can have a positive impact on your health. Most recently, research has shown that a 10 minute workout — with one minute at high-intensity — had the same benefits and results as 45 minutes of jogging. In addition, further research from Taiwan suggests that just 15 minutes of exercise a day can increase your life expectancy by three years!

2. If your apartment or house has stairs, make it your best friend.

Simply running up & down the stairs is an efficient way to stay active and remain fit. Stair running is a plyometric exercise where your muscles exert maximum force during short intervals of time. It targets the largest muscles in your body — such as your calves, quads, and glutes — and helps build your strength and endurance. In fact, three 20-second runs up and down the stairs can actually improve your overall fitness in just six weeks!

3. Make everyday chores more fun by blasting your favorite tunes and dancing along to the beat!

Dancing has great benefits for your heart — such as cardiovascular flexibility and endurance — and can also enhance your overall happiness, which will help cope with the stress that comes with the shelter-in-place.  One thing that’s great about dancing is that it’s an inclusive social activity that you can rope your family into! Not only will you have extra hands to make the chores go faster, but it’s also a fun way to burn some extra calories and bond with your family. 

Winding Down & Relaxing 

Whether you’ve had a long day at work, taking care of your children, or you’re just feeling down, it is important to take a step back and find some time to relax. When you relax, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure is reduced, which relieves tension throughout your body. It can help calm the ruminative thoughts in your head, and promote more positive thinking, decision-making, and concentration. Everyone has their own way of relaxing, but here are some suggestions to unwind:

1. Take a hot bath or shower!

Hot baths and showers can relax your muscles and nerves, relieving any tension or muscle pain you may have. Showering or bathing gives you the chance to take a real break and process all your thoughts from the day. Set the mood by lighting some scented candles and playing your favorite tunes. To give yourself some extra love, throw in a fizzy bath bomb into your tub, or pamper yourself with some essential oils as you shower!

2. Make yourself some tea with honey and set aside 15-30 minutes to write in a journal.

Journaling is not only one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, but it’s also a healthy form of expression that allows you to learn more about yourself and reflect. Even if you aren’t a writer, no need to worry! If you have difficulty coming up with what to write, you can look up various journaling prompts online to get you going. If you want to save the hassle of looking up what to write, The Story of My Life is an amazing activity journal that you could get at Target or Amazon. It has numerous guiding prompts that will not only allow you to create a record of your life, but it can also help you express yourself, and how you’ve changed to become the individual you are today.

Additionally, you can use journaling to keep track of new hobbies and activities you’re doing at home. For instance, if you’re learning how to cook, you can write down your progress and use it as a way to keep yourself motivated!

3. Coloring books are not just for kids, but adults too!

Coloring relaxes the amygdala — the fear center of your brain. It can create similar states as meditating by reducing the ruminative thoughts in your head, which allows your mind to finally rest after a long day. Coloring allows you to divert your attention from present stressors and helps you live in the moment. You don’t have to be an artist to color! You can print a vast amount of free coloring templates online. Don’t own a printer? Popular adult coloring books, such as the Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, are available at Amazon and Target! If you don’t want to commit to coloring just yet, free coloring apps such as Polygon are a great way to test the waters of your creative side from the comfort of your phone. 

4. Meditate.

Meditation is more than just reciting a hokey mantra. A strange stigma has certainly grown around meditation thanks to movies painting it as possessing some sort of magical ability. However, the truth is that the benefits of meditation cannot be overstated, and practicing it can provide a strong structure of relief and relaxation for you. Meditating after a long day of work helps you recenter yourself. Of course, “meditation” is a broad and quite ambiguous term. There are many possible ways to meditate, and each of them can provide really strong benefits. (Wing will be putting out a blog post on best practices for meditation soon, so look out for it!) Regardless of what kind of meditation you try out, you’ll find yourself feeling more refreshed throughout the day. 

5. Get Some Sun!

Even if you’ve currently been holed up at home for weeks, you should remember that at one point in your life you were seeing the sun daily. Sunlight is beyond important for your mind and body to function. It’s considered one of the only and easiest sources of Vitamin D. In fact, studies have shown that just getting 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight 2-3 times a week is enough to enjoy massive benefits. Even if you’re just going into your backyard or opening the window to let some light in, exposing your body to the sun can significantly improve your brain function, lower high blood pressure, and protect against inflammation. You’ll realize that your body will become a lot more relaxed and energized from just a kiss from the sun. 

6. Visualize!

Visualization is a very broad term, and yet every single one of us are entirely capable of it. Our minds’ abilities to imagine has been well-documented as strong tools in driven, successful people. In fact, sports psychologists even teach Olympic medalists to utilize visualization for positive energy, according to the American Psychological Association.

Now, you may be thinking that it sounds great for athletes, but isn’t something you could personally apply to your life. That isn’t true! Visualization can be a great way to destress and bring your mind to a more relaxed place. There are various ways you can use your imagination to unwind. For instance, some people revisualize their day, picking up on moments that they took for granted. Others visualize a relaxing place like a beach or a picnic, which inevitably calms the body down. No matter what you decide to do, visualization can be a great tool in your at-home relaxation toolkit. 

7. Unplug from the Internet and electronic devices.

One great way to give your mind a break — especially after working from home — is to free yourself from the electronic distractions that are so prevalent in our lives now. Our brains and bodies are so used to the internet for both work and leisure that there is rarely a moment for us to step back. Being able to unplug yourself from the web can be a great way to unwind. You should recognize that life plays out in real-time —not on a screen. Of course, don’t cut off electronics from your life entirely since that’s not very feasible. Instead, experiment with dopamine fasts or small bursts of time where, instead of using the internet for entertainment, you can read a book or go on a walk. Easing your mind off of constant stimulation by screen, even for a little bit, can do wonders long term. 

Remember to Relax!

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work and family, which is why incorporating simple workouts and relaxation methods into your busy routine is extremely important! Prioritizing your emotional health can not only promote greater productivity and efficacy in your work, but it can also improve the quality of your relationships with others. Hopefully, these simple tips can make a difference on your overall well-being. At the end of the day, remember you matter the most, so take care of yourself amidst all that is happening!

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