Here are some of our top tips to help you look after your body.
- Make a list of simple physical pleasures
Here are some to start with, you can make a list of your favourites from these or write your own.
- Feeling the warmth of the sun
- Being in the garden
- Walking through nature
- Having a long hot bath
- Being involved in sport (not to win, just for the feeling of it)
- Listening to music (really listening, not just in the background)
- Patting the dog
- Patting the cat
- A swim on a hot day
- Breathing in the fresh air
- Feeling relaxed
- Feeling the energy of your body
- Meditating the inner smile
- Thinking of someone you love, and tuning in to the physical sensations that go with the emotional warmth.
- Driving and winding down the window and feeling the wind through your hair
- Having a neck and shoulder massage
- Savouring your favourite foods
- Smelling the spices in a market
- Learning a new body skill - like juggling
- Stretching after sitting for so long
- Putting your feet up (literally), when you rest for a while
- Feeling snug by a fire in winter.
Breathing is a much more powerful mind-body link than most people realise and a much more powerful tool for feeling good. See our resources section for some simple breathing exercises.
It is easy to carry around a lot more tension than we usually realise. Learning how to relax can be a helpful skill to have for life.
There are many different ways you could learn to relax and finding something that makes you feel better is what is important; there is no wrong or right way! In addition to breathing and meditation, which we have described separately here you may like to try:
Visualising yourself relaxed: This may included sights, sounds, objects and even smells. Even picturing one element may help for example being wrapped in a favourite warm blanket or cuddling a pet.
Mindfulness: This is the practice of tuning into all the elements of an experience using all your senses (if reasonable) and being focussed on the here and now. It is about remaining connected to one task and getting involved in the elements of that task. So, for example if you were gardening you would be aware of the smells around you of the plants and soil, note the feeling of the earth under your fingers or the leaves of a plant, look at the detail in a leaf, flower or insect and listen to the sounds around you or the sounds you make. This example is one where you would not normally be able to use your sense of taste, but perhaps if growing something edible this may be possible.
Music: Music can for some people be relaxing. Find music that helps you feel calmer, in general this is more likely to be music with a slower beat. Some people find sounds relaxing such as water or bird songs. There are a plethora of relaxation tapes and short videos out there on the web so have a look and see if something helps you.
Have a break: Taking even 5 minutes to simply sit still and breathe deeply can be reinvigorating. Remind yourself that you can get back to your tasks after the allotted time and then just 'be'.
Focus your mind on something positive: It could be a person, a pet, a place or an item. Just think of this person or thing and remind yourself of the associated happy feeling.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This is a commonly used relaxation technique and it can be particularly useful for getting to sleep. Here you will find a 15 minute audio that takes you through a Progressive Muscle Relaxation Session. The Author of the audio is Dr Prentice Price from Georgia Southern University, recorded for mend-a-friend.com
Exercise not only makes you feel better and helps you stay physically fit, but also helps circulation and gets more oxygen to your brain.
There is now also evidence that exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise can be social and allow you to form good connections with others, so can have multiple benefits. If you're not sure where to start have a look at the University Sports Association website. There are many articles on the benefits of exercise , but you may want to research this further.