Just a year ago, for many of us working from home sounded like a dream. Being productive from the comfort of our sofa seemed like a good idea.
Yes, and now? A year later, some of us were taken aback: the fact that public life has come to a standstill does not quite mean that we, too, have to come to rest. On the contrary: numerous studies show that we find it difficult to switch off in the home office, often skip lunch breaks and accumulate unnecessary overtime.
The extra pressure, however, is being felt much more by those of us who can’t curl up on the couch during these times. These are people in jobs where the current situation is hitting hard: nurses and hospital workers, postal and parcel workers, supermarket workers and many more.
Everyone talks about relaxing, but this is not easily done if the external circumstances cannot offer any stress relief. Therefore, in this article we would like to introduce you to the different types of relaxation and sensitise you to relaxation within the realms of possibility. Only in this way can we cope with these challenging times without unconsciously burning out.
Resilience: The buzz word of 2021 and how it can actually help us
“Resilience” is a term that I’m sure all of us have heard at least once in the last year – whether online or when talking to friends or colleagues. It describes a person’s individual ability to cope with and come out of crises unscathed.
Hm, many of us are now fed up with the term, and rightly so. It essentially means that the world can end around us and we are supposed to sit through it in a relaxed and mindful way. Alas, it is not quite that easy, because resilience requires some foundation and inner stability. This mainly implies: being able to retreat and recharge our batteries.
Even though many of us have really tried to use the lockdown period wisely, to switch down a gear and simply reflect on ourselves, very few of us have managed to truly slow down and relax during this difficult time.
“But how?”, we rightly ask ourselves. The chaos on the outside makes its way into the inside without permission. The problem: there are hardly any ways to balance the stress at work and in our private lives: Travelling abroad is hardly possible at the moment, sporting activities are narrowed down, parties and celebrations are a no-go, and home schooling is an enormous double burden on parents.
In addition, this situation has created fears and insecurities in many people, which they now have to face alone and in isolation. In Berlin alone, there are almost 1.3 million single households.
The current figures speak for themselves about our mental health during this crisis:
- 71% of children and teenagers are experiencing psychological stress in the pandemic – which of course also affects their parents. (UKE study)
- 82% of physicians note more frequent anxiety related problems among their patients. (Study by the company health insurance provider Pronova)
- Almost 80% of them diagnose depression more often than before.
- The cases of somatic complaints in adults are also increasing: Fatigue, exhaustion and pain without organic cause. (Pronova study)
- For many, this is particularly noticeable at night, in the form of sleep disturbances. Almost 70% of the doctors surveyed have seen an increase in cases since the beginning of the pandemic. (Pronova study)
In addition, there are all those who currently have no work at all, are on short-time work or have been laid off. You suddenly have a lot of time, but you’re overwhelmed with existential fears, which makes it difficult to relax.
No wonder many turn to caffeine, alcohol or nicotine to distract themselves. 16% drink more coffee since the beginning of the crisis, 10% drink alcohol more frequently and 8% resort to cigarettes more often. (Pronova study)
Whatever your job: one year has passed and we’re all exhausted. We can no longer ignore our needs, possible frustration, anger, resentment or other feelings, and put the “resilience label” on them. It is now about being aware of our feelings, acknowledging them and allowing our body and mind the necessary rest to process them.
We all relax in different ways: Find out what’s good for you
Numbers can make you feel dizzy – indeed! However, it is up to each and every one of us to take ownership and regain control. The good news is that there are ways to wind down in your own individual way, even now – it just takes a little practice and discipline. In the following, we will introduce you to six types of relaxation and the respective relaxation techniques.
Type 1: You relax through culture and music.
You love to read, look at art or have music on your ears.
Here is what you need in these times:
- Virtual museum visits worldwide: including the Museum of Frida Kahlo in Mexico City, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris or the Albertina in Vienna.
- A small book club with friends, where you can talk about your latest literary or musical discoveries.
- Guided meditations or audio books that sharpen your sense of hearing.
- Journaling, colouring in mandalas or taking photographs.
- Walk around your city and make new street art discoveries.
Type 2: You wind down while being active.
Sitting still is a real challenge for you and the thought of a beach holiday is already causing mild panic.
The following could help you relax:
- Small renovation projects in the home to get your hands busy.
- Gardening or planting to ground you and let you sink into an active-meditative state.
- Big cooking projects with all kinds of different ingredients.
- Long walks or bike rides in the fresh air or hiking in the forest.
- Handicrafts that keep you engaged like macramé knotting, knitting or crocheting.
Type 3: You need exercise to clear your head.
You find peace of mind when you challenge your body and let the energy circulate.
Try this for the time being:
- New sports with dynamic and fast movements. In our Humanoo app you will find a wide range of offers from kickboxing to fitness and yoga. Just have a go!
- Bike rides with a friend or long jogging sessions by the lakeside.
- Shake it all off at home in the living room with a good playlist .
- In everyday life, always choose movement instead of getting too comfortable: Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the supermarket or to an appointment instead of taking public transport or the car.
Type 4: You relax in good company.
You like to be surrounded by others and feel part of a community.
This could help you find peace:
- Being socially engaged and taking responsibility for elderly people, animals or children who need you right now.
- Try to surround yourself with people who think the same way you do and give you a sense of belonging.
- Organise events like game nights (even if only virtual) or cooking sessions where you do something together.
- Start a new course with like-minded people to learn something new and exchange ideas. Have you heard of the Masterclass?
Type 5: You need wellness and relaxation to leave the everyday behind.
You love to treat yourself – whether at a spa or at home. Anything that puts you in a state of relaxation makes your heart flutter.
This could be your thing for relaxing:
- How about a meditative sound journey? In our Humanoo app you will find a wide range of possibilities.
- There are essential oils to support every mood. A diffuser disperses fragrance and its benefits all over your home.
- Ask someone you are close to if they can give you a massage.
- Take long baths with Schuessler salts (foot baths are an alternative if you don’t have a bathtub).
Type 6: You need it cosy and warm to replenish your energy reserves.
You’re a real sun-lover and winter gets you down.
Here are your relaxation tips:
- On gloomy days, grab a hot water bottle and drink delicious herbal teas.
- Treat yourself to warm footbaths more often, for example while watching Netflix or TV.
- Keep your body warm with thick socks, cosy clothes and always have a blanket at hand.
- Try to catch every ray of sunshine you can. You simply must go for walks!
- Treat yourself more often with a hot cocoa or chocolate.
So, how will you relax now?
We hope that with this colourful potpourri of possibilities, we could provide you with lots of inspiration.
Always remember, especially in times like these, it is important that we do not hold back our feelings, but give them space and consciously acknowledge them. Repressed feelings often lead to mental stresses that are not sustainable in the long term.
So give yourself enough space to sit with your emotions. You can facilitate this process by minimising distractions. Reducing your screen time on the phone and reading the news much less will open up new spaces for you to engage with yourself.
This may feel challenging at first, but will become easier and easier if you allow yourself enough time to relax and listen to your inner voice.
We are happy to accompany you on your journey.
Your Humanoo team