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Daily self-care: how to relax

Are you dealing with big life changes? Has your normal routine been turned upside down? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out our tips on how to restore your inner calm. Try to practice self-care every day. We’re here to guide you! ;)

woman doing yoga at home

set goals for yourself

Are you living alone and feeling isolated? If so, the bright side is that you only need to take care of yourself. You get to decide what to do, and when. You’re in full control of your daily routine, which is actually pretty great! To stay motivated, it’s important to set daily goals for yourself.

Overworked? Trying to catch your breath? Take the time to make a list of priorities. Instead of wearing yourself out by trying to do everything at once, make a plan to better organize your tasks; and make sure to schedule some "me" time. 

Too much free time on your hands? Try learning a new hobby! Having goals and projects will help you to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Take advantage of those extra hours to do all the things you never had time for before. Incidentally, now’s also a great time to try out a new sport!

relax people laughing while exercising

Exercise

Even if you’re stuck indoors, it’s important to exercise regularly to supply oxygen to your body. Getting your heart pumping is a great way to relieve some of the stress of everyday life. Physical activity has a positive effect on your mood; it helps you get re-centred and set aside your anxious thoughts. In fact, 25 minutes of exercise is enough for your body to secrete endorphins, hormones that signal feelings of pleasure and fulfillment. So get moving and have fun to keep your body and mind healthy!

two men playing ping pong at home

Learn to relax

Discover our tips on how to manage your emotions and stress. By introducing a few relaxation exercises to your routine, you’ll soon feel calmer and more at ease.

catch your breath: Diaphragmic breathing

Dr. Sylvain Baert, a French professor of psychology, explains the fundamental element of all relaxation exercises: breathing.

 “Many people are thoracic breathers; when they inhale, their chest rises and their stomach contracts. Instead of drawing long, deep breaths from the diaphragm, they breathe in a shallow and halting manner. But deep breathing is very beneficial; it gives you a real sense of calm and awakens your mind. Diaphragmic or abdominal breathing stimulates your parasympathetic* nervous system, which signals your body to relax. It’s an important technique to learn.”

man on a yoga mat with eyes closed

The science of relaxation: breathing and your autonomic nervous system

This relationship was studied by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, a French physician. When we breathe “normally” from our thorax, our sympathetic nervous system takes control and increases our anxiety. Breathing deeply from the diaphragm, on the other hand, engages our parasympathetic nervous system, which blocks the anxiety-inducing effects of the sympathetic system. It triggers relaxation and makes you feel calm.

man on a yoga mat meditating

Here’s a further explanation from Dr. R. Abrezol: “When you practise abdominal breathing, your previously motionless diaphragm begins to fall with each inhale and rise with each exhale. This movement, which doesn’t occur when breathing through the chest or shoulders, produces a deep massage in the solar plexus—a complex network of nerves located between the navel and breastbone—and in the internal abdominal organs. Many discomforts in the solar plexus disappear spontaneously with deep breathing.”

Exercise

Practice this diaphragmic breathing exercise while sitting on the floor against a wall or lying on your back:

- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose.

- Exhale through your mouth, pressing gently on your stomach to expel the air.

- Inhale through your nose, inflating only your stomach.

- Exhale slowly through your mouth.

- Repeat these steps three times.

According to Dr. Sylvain Baert, controlling your breath (about six respiratory cycles per minute with slow exhales instead of 12–20 cycles) helps you coordinate your breathing with your heart rate, which promotes relaxation.

woman on a yoga mat outside

Focus on the "now"

Bringing your attention to the present moment is called mindfulness meditation. To better understand this practice and why it matters, consider this quote by Leonardo da Vinci: “An average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”

So, how can you learn to live in the present? Try to focus on your breathing or a neutral object several times a day. Whenever you feel your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath.

Over time, this technique can help you better control and accept your emotions. The great thing about mindfulness is that it helps you appreciate what’s happening in the here and now.

So, stop living life on autopilot! Focus on the present, relax, and learn to make every moment count.

In practice

Take a few relaxing breaths. Imagine that you’re in a calm and pleasant place. Let yourself be immersed in this real or made-up environment. Try to bring it to life in vivid detail. Focus on how calm, happy, and serene you feel in this place.

woman stretching at home on a yoga mat

Extra advice

Few tips on how to find peace of mind and to relieve daily stress:

- I go for walks to reconnect with nature and clear my mind.

- I start my days with 10 minutes of the Five Tibetan Rites (a sequence of five simple asanas, or yoga postures).

- I do slow abdominal breathing.

- I practice cardiac coherence for 5 minutes each day