7 ways to relax when you don't have a lot of time
If we had our way, there would be a certain number of hours in the day when we're on duty - then plenty of time to recover from the stress of it afterward. Instead, most of us are being pulled in a million different directions, with not much chance to look after ourselves. As far as unwinding goes, it's all a matter of snatching the odd moment when we can. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Read an actual book
We're so attached to our phones these days that an old-fashioned activity like reading a real book seems instantly calming. There's something about the smell of it, the weight in your hands, the feel of the paper. Wherever you happen to be, a few minutes with your nose in a book (as long as you're enjoying it!) can be a great escape.
Rediscover a passion
Think about what you loved doing when you were little, and get back into that mindset. Jigsaw puzzles and modelling clay aren't just for kids - and the same goes for cross stitch and all those other crafty things we learnt about in primary school. Try an activity that's easy to pick up and put down, so you can get a quick hit of creativity if you're short on time.
Try a soothing hand massage
To set up the spa vibe, light a scented candle, turn the lights down low, and put on some restful music. Rub some nice lotion into your palms. Gently pinch each fingertip and knuckle, as well as the webbing between your fingers. Don't forget the area between the thumb and first finger - that holds a stack of tension. Finally, clench and release your fists, flex your wrists, and give your hands a good shake.
Get zen with origami
Ever noticed yourself scrunching and ripping up paper when you're feeling frazzled? Use that energy to fold it in a more constructive way, as the Japanese have been doing for thousands of years, via the art of origami. Concentrate, go step-by-step, and enjoy the process. In no time, you'll end up with cranes, tulips, boxes and other lovely - and sometimes useful - little shapes.
Solve a puzzle
Seventeen down. In a state of physical tension (8). If you guessed "stressed", you're ready to give a crossword a good workout. Whether it's the regular or the cryptic, there's something strangely satisfying about filling in blank squares on a black and white grid.
Brew yourself a cuppa
Make a pot of tea - properly, with tea leaves - and let it steep. Use a little jug for the milk. Instead of your usual mug, set yourself up with a special cup and saucer that's reserved especially for these quiet moments. You don't have to perform a whole tea ceremony, but take your time, breathe deeply and savour the treat.
Switch off for a sec
Decide that one comfy chair in the house should be a device-free zone. Sit there for a while and do absolutely nothing. Make sure your shoulders and neck are free from tension, and the rest of your body is relaxed and comfy as possible. Close your eyes, or look out the window, be still, and let your mind wander. Who knows where you'll end up?