I will be the first to admit that I'm an incredibly emotional person - not hysterical where I'm bursting into tears over the tiniest thing, but where I get stressed easily and worry over lots of things and can become quite 'snappy'. Those close to me understand that my snaps aren't an aggressive, angry act but more just a result of me getting worked up about something - I snap even when I'm not annoyed at someone, it's more when I'm more annoyed with myself or worried about a situation.
When I can feel myself getting snappy I always find it beneficial to take a step back and have some time and space to myself. If anyone has read 'The Chimp Paradox' they'll understand what I mean when I say I always tell myself to stop my Inner Chimp from rattling it's cage, and to stop giving it bananas. (read the book, honestly! It makes a lot of sense) Sometimes this can involve just retreating to my bedroom to read a book, listen to some music or watch a DVD or, more recently I take my dog out for a walk to my favourite spots so I can ponder over things.
Living in the Scottish Borders means that I'm surrounded by picture perfect countryside (when it's not raining, although sometimes even then. I do like the rain) and there are countless great walks near my house. One of my favourite walks takes me along the River Tweed where I have a particular spot that I like to sit at and have my legs dangle over the water. Water has always calmed me - the sound of rain on the window at night, the trickle of a water feature, and recently I've discovered a love of watching rivers. My sister used to have a fabulous flat which had an amazing view of the Thames and I could sit and watch the tides change and the skiffs go by for hours. I do the same here at my spot on the Tweed - although obviously not for hours. I usually just try to grab 10 minutes each day whilst walking the dog. I like to sit and watch the smaller dark fish dart about the rocks under my feet, and then try and spot salmon surfacing and splashing as they make their way down the river. We also get all kinds of river birds -noisy river gulls and herons mostly, although I'm hoping I'll soon spot a kingfisher. Just taking this time to be 'in the moment' and observatory to what's around me really helps me get a handle on how I'm feeling that day and I think it's helped me to become much more relaxed. Whenever I'm out walking I try to just notice what's around me & how the landscape is changing as the months go by. As you can see in my photos the landscape is still quite lush and green, especially after the recent rains but soon the leaves will start to turn and my walk will become more golden and autumnal.
As well as catching moments at my favourite spot by the river I also like to indulge in a long hot soak in the tub - who doesn't? It might only be an hour in the week, but it's important to take that hour to yourself to relax and unwind in the steam. I think an upcoming blog post could be about my bath-time rituals and my favourite products to use. Recently I also started a Beginners Ashtanga Yoga course at a studio down in Manchester - I've had two classes in the 8 week course so far and I am really loving it! It is tough - I can definitely feel the deeper stretches the next day and I can break a sweat in the class but my flexibility has improved so much already in such a short time, and I'm finding the breathing exercises so helpful at night if I'm struggling to go to sleep or during the day if I just need to take ten. I did Pilates for about two years at school and I think I really took for granted how flexible and supple it made me then - I definitely feel much more stiffer and a bit angry at myself for not keeping it up. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can lengthen my muscles back out again and create a really good habit of practicing the stretches and incorporating it into my everyday routine.
Do you try to practice mindfulness or have things that you do to help you relax and unwind? Or perhaps, like me, you have a secret space that you like to escape to. Let me know!