1. I get out
Going out side and getting fresh air isn't exactly a ground breaking suggestion. However, what I love about stepping out my front door is that it's a completely scaleable activity.
Sometimes all I have/need is five minutes to walk along my street and just be away from all of my multiple screens and phones and that's enough to reset my mind.
If possible, I really like to take a good half an hour to head off on a more ambitious stroll, where I usually end up in York city centre.
My fair city is pretty much one of the most visually stimulating places I have ever been, which makes it an absolute pleasure to walk through, especially in the sunshine!
It's the kind of place where you can just simply stand and watch hordes of people go about their business in a variety of interesting ways and never get bored of seeing all the complexity and variations of human life go past.
If I have over an hour, which can be rare these days, I will take myself off on foot into the countryside and really escape. Often I'll take a book with me and find a quiet place to sit and read for a while, which is pretty much the most relaxing thing I can think of!
2. I pick up a recipe book and try something new
As a self confessed foodie, trying out recipes is literally one of my favorite activities. However despite having a burgeoning cookery book collection, I tend to always stick to the same tried and tested recipes. (Hello Yotam Ottolenghi's Turkey Burgers, you are delicious but I make you way too often!)
Breaking free of a food rut is never a bad thing and I also find that getting stuck into the process of preparing and cooking a meal is a guaranteed way to distract myself from everything else happening in my life.
My top tip is to pick something a little outside of your comfort zone, as this will force you to really focus on the task at hand. I like to try out a new technique or cuisine to really push myself, plus I get to learn something new.
This is also a great strategy in terms of time, as you are killing two birds with one stone (dinner, plus relaxation, equals win!)
3. I write
This is the kind of thing that you will read and go "Jesus Bethan, telling people to relax by writing now huh? So original..."
The thing is, people always talk about it because it works, so think of it like a crowdsourced strategy that everyone has contributed to.
Because whether it's on the back of a receipt, on my laptop or in a dedicated notebook. There is nothing better for peace of mind than spilling it out onto the page.
This kind of writing doesn't need to have an audience, it just needs to happen. So don't let the fear of facing the spelling or grammar police hold you back, because it's for your eyes only (unless you write something pretty amazing, which does happen!)
It also really doesn't matter what you write about. It can be anything that comes to mind!
I like to think of myself laying out words on the page directly from my brain, almost as if I'm releasing some of the pressure which has built up. This visualization helps to calm down my thoughts and can feel like I'm freeing up some organic RAM (nice brain = computer analogy for you there).
4. I get an outside view on a problem
Perspective is your friend and even with the best will in the world, you do not know how to solve every problem in your life.
So get help!
Grab a coffee with a friend and ask for their advice on something which has been an obstacle in your life recently.
The problem can range from the mundane to the profound, it really doesn't matter, the most important thing is to get an outside view on things and perhaps come across a solution which you haven't thought of.
I also have come to believe that the most important things in my life are my relationships with other people. numerous scientific studies have shown that people with solid relationships/friendships tend to live longer and lead happier lives.
So anything I can do to help grow and sustain my friendships is only going to be beneficial to my happiness and satisfaction levels!
This can also be done via the phone, however face to face is always better in my humble opinion.
5. I take 5 minutes out from everything just to listen to a piece of music
I don't do anything else but listen, really listen.
Again, it's all about immersing yourself in the experience and really trying to engage with only a single stimuli.
I usually do this by sitting down, getting comfortable, then shutting my eyes for the duration of the song/album/playlist.
All types of music work well for this, but if you really want to loose yourself, try something classical (Mahler's second symphony would be my top pick, which makes me sound slightly pompous, but I don't really care. I love music.)
6. I have a glass of wine
Now before the internet police get all tied in a knot by this one, I want to clearly state that I am in no way saying that you should drown all of your problems in the biggest glass of Merlot you can get your hands on. Far from it actually.
All I do here is simply get my hands on a single glass of the best wine I can afford and I savor it.
I'm taking about spending over 30 minutes drinking one glass and tasting every single sip slowly and carefully.
I personally love decoding flavours and find immense pleasure in immersing myself into their complexity. The strange olfactory combination of taste intertwined smell always seems to focus my mind away from it's usual state of constantly whirring and revolving. (This may explain why I love eating so much?!)
N.B. This also works very well with specialty coffee and very very good chocolate.
7. I take 20 minutes to lie down and nap or daydream
This one again is neither new nor groundbreaking, but it does work wonders.
I personally find that when I tell myself to "have a nap" - nothing ever happens! This is probably because I spend half the time wondering why I'm not napping yet and fretting that the clock is counting down.
So now I just lie down with the intention of being off my feet and having a little daydream.
Whether this turns into a fully blown nap situation or not, it doesn't really matter! The key thing is that I'm taking a break and giving myself some metaphorical and physical breathing room.
I do recommend setting an alarm, just because I have a horrific memory of taking what was supposed to be a "quick nap" then waking up three hours later having missed my train.
This was obviously not very relaxing and quite counter productive....