For many people, the holiday season is a time to unwind, let go of work for a while and relax. But unfortunately for some people, that is easier said than done. While many of us want to relax, sometimes your brain may drift off to something that happened at work, what you want to achieve next year, and by the time you’re back at work you may have barely relaxed at all.

So if this sounds like you, here is a quick list of 4 ways to relax and unwind.

1. Go out in nature

It is something we preach here at Magical Learning, but connecting with nature has proven results regarding helping people to feel less stressed. You can do a nature walk, which we highly encourage here, which involves going for a walk in nature without any technology, and really letting your brain unwind*. If this isn’t possible for you, walking in a park, or if that isn’t possible, even looking at images of nature has shown to have some benefits.

2.   Breathing

Yes, as you are reading this, you are breathing, but if you aren’t doing it the right way, you may be making yourself more anxious. Taking long deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth, can be a quick way to tricking your brain into thinking it is nice and calm, and as a result, you’ll become more calm. Slow breathing has benefits beyond just relaxation, and we highly recommend the book Breath by James Nestor if you really want to deep dive on the science behind it.

3. Meditate

Yes, many people have given meditating a try and found it is not for them. Or so they think. Meditation comes in many forms with many outcomes, but at its simplest, it is simply concentrating on your breathing. Perhaps you gave the wrong course a go, or perhaps you found that you were thinking about other things and couldn’t concentrate. Remember, no one is good at meditating when they start out, so even staying with it for 10 seconds is a great first achievement.

4. Learn a new skill

If you are finding that all you can think about is work or other things that may stress you out, breaking the cycle of that thought pattern is important. One way to do that is to do something new. While we do recommend things that don’t necessarily involve technology, like learning an instrument, an art or a craft (woodworking is a personal favourite of mine), anything new that has peaked your interest in the past may be the cure for your looping thought patterns. Don’t set high expectations for yourself, you are only a beginner, and anything you make is better than nothing. Plus, you never know when you may be able to use the skill in the future.

We hope these things help you relax over the holiday season, as it has been a long and strange year. And remember, be nice to yourself, and recharge for a good year next year.

* for more information on this one, check out our podcast on Nature Walks, in which you join Danette and Grahame on a nature walk.