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InkyAnn's avatar

How do you relax?

Asked by InkyAnn (2408 points ) October 4th, 2011 from iPhone

I don’t mean like a hot bubble bath, scented candles and a glass of wine. I mean like when your anxious for longer then a little bit. Say for days, or like when you just can’t seem to “unwind” for longer then a moment. As if you can’t get your brain to slow down/stop thinking. What do you do to mentally relax?

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51 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I exercise and meditate. [Edit to add: I use guided visualization meditation, so I don’t have to worry about having a blank mind. Whatever that is.]

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Honestly I don’t do that much and I never have. I don’t even think I know how. When I get my mani pedi, they turn on those chairs that massage you, and I sit stiff as a board and can’t relax even then.

lillycoyote's avatar

Honestly? Under the circumstances you describe; valium. What can I say? I wish I had a better answer, but that’s how I do it.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Usually when that happens, I call a friend usually relatively late at night, but thankfully, my friends are tolerant and I go over and just use up all my stress-energy. Sometimes there are other people, sometimes there is alcohol, but these are not necessary.

Actually, a couple weeks ago, my friend and I had sort of an impromptu nerd party. I went over to his place at maybe 8 or 9 at night and we played scrabble and I said, “Hey, we should make cookies,” so we went to the store and picked up cookie dough and chips and dip and cider and then called a bunch of friends. We made the super delicious cookies and played boardgames until 2 or 3 in the morning. It was honestly the most restorative thing I’d done in a looooooooong time.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I put a hot pack on the place in my body where I’m holding the stress. I watch some movies and tvs shows I have on DVD that I know will calm me down (family fun type stuff is really good for this; my latest discovery is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Don’t laugh, I know it’s lame but it really works). Maybe read a favorite, relaxing book (so nothing where one character irritates the crap out of me, or any psychological thrillers – more Winnie the Pooh than Wuthering Heights). I cuddle with my cats, and focus on getting them to purr (if I can get them to do it for 5 minutes, I’ve successfully boosted their immune system, so I get a good-mommy cookie!) If I have a lot of energy, I clean or organize, but that’s rare, since anxiety usually drains me of energy. I blow bubbles, and focus on the size and colors of the bubbles (side note: this is actually a version of the mindfulness mediation stuff, guided visualization style, but without having to pull up youtube). I drink some chamomile, lavender, and Valerian tea.

And if all else fails, I use medicinal means, like maybe Xanax or Mary Jane.

InkyAnn's avatar

Thanks for all the advice. I’m currently stuck with this… I don’t even know what to call it, but it’s to the point where at night I can’t even fall asleep when my body is completely exhausted. Im I’m talking like can’t lift a finger exhausted. Yet I just can’t seem to fall asleep no matter what. During the day I can’t seem to sit still, have to keep doing something and developed a habit of having to look up every single question that pops in my head on the Internet. If I don’t I won’t be able to stop thinking about it until I do. EVERY little thing is catching my attention. A quick flash of light on the wall to my right, and I can’t stop wondering what caused it. I’ll go through hundreds of possibilities in my head of what it could be.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Inked_up_chic So, sometimes this works for me: If I keep a pad of paper and pen near my bed, then I can write down all the to-dos and to-look-ups. Then, I know that I will remember them and take care of it, but I can also go to sleep then and let it happen tomorrow.

InkyAnn's avatar

@Aethelflaed I have tried that and it only helps sometimes. Even though I have it written down to look up later I still can’t stop wondering what I will find when I do look it up.

Bellatrix's avatar

I talk. Well I should qualify that and say if I am really, really upset I don’t talk. I sometimes just can’t find the words. Once the floodgates open though, I talk. I also do as @Aethelflaed suggested and watch TV and other mindless things to try to take my mind off things. I walk too. Try to get out of the house and go and watch the ocean if I can.

JLeslie's avatar

Watch TV with my husband.

Try to occupy my brain with other things.

Talk to my girlfriends to vent.

Write out my thoughts to vent.

If I really cannot turn my mind off, and it lasts weeks I go to therapy.

Sharing your troubles can move it out of your brain and into the air.

JLeslie's avatar

@Inked_up_chic I just read your later post, you sound a little OCD. Do you feel paranoid at all?

InkyAnn's avatar

@JLeslie Oh I’m constantly paranoid haha but not in the “crazy neighbor with tin foil on his head” sort of way. (my neighbor actually is like that :/ ) like it doesn’t rule me if that makes sense. And OCD? isn’t that people that are like WAY over the top neat freaks and excessive organizers?

JLeslie's avatar

@Inked_up_chic Well, you make a good point, you are probably not OCD, but do seem to be obsessing. Obsessing is the thought, Compulsion is the action. Do you think you are hallucinating at all?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Inked_up_chic Well, there are milder forms of OCD. Not all OCD is as severe as Monk (on Monk).

If this is a problem that’s been going on for days, and is seriously affecting your sleep, it may be time to consider medicinal avenues if they’re available to you. IIRC, the longer your brain is without restful sleep, the harder it is for it to do all the processing it needs to properly relax.

JLeslie's avatar

Looking up on the internet actually is the action. I’m back to OCD.

InkyAnn's avatar

@JLeslie oh god no! No hallucinations haha. It could be anything, a new word I heard on tv and I have to look up the meaning or it will bug me until I do, the bronz knobs on my dresser that look antique and then Ill unconsciously start a train of thought about antiques, metals then on to historical times type thoughts then *back to looking up how long it takes for something to tarnish.

JLeslie's avatar

Do you have any seemingly unrelated physical symptoms besides not being able to sleep and feeling anxious? Increased hair loss, dry skin and eyes, anything else?

InkyAnn's avatar

@JLeslie no, I did have a bad accident about a year and half ago resulting in a T.B.I and some partial perment brain damage. Nothing bodily altering or hindering me from normal everyday life. But this is something new. It just started about 2 months ago. I’ve always been a extremely curious person but never to this sever extent.

InkyAnn's avatar

@Aethelflaed are there other forms of OCD that have nothing to do with cleaning/sanitizing or organizing?

JLeslie's avatar

@Inked_up_chic OCD is any obsession and compulsion taken to an extreme, it is not limited to certain thoughts and behaviors. Well, extreme is a big word, like it was said above you could have a mild form.

JLeslie's avatar

Did something trigger it a couple of months ago? Are you avoiding something else in your life? Something upsetting you don’t want to deal with? Maybe problems at school or with your parents?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Inked_up_chic Totally. If you’re really worried, here’s a good OCD screening quiz that can help you know if you should see a professional about it.

Moonya's avatar

I make paintings, jewels, soaps and perfumes. Very relaxing and when you are done you have a lot of pleasure of it to.

InkyAnn's avatar

@JLeslie not that I can think of. And nothing I’m avoiding. I know there’s things I’m looking forward to like moving to a new state and my settlement. But I don’t know how that would play into the overwhelming curiosity I’ve developed.

@Aethelflaed thanks I’ll give that a shot.

InkyAnn's avatar

@Moonya thanks I’ve been giving sewing a shot but it only works for a few hours :(

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

There is a form of OCD that is only obsessing. You don’t necessarily have to compulse at all in order to be diagnosed with OCD, which has many forms.. and also a spectrum.
And, @Inked_up_chic to answer your question, no it does not have to do with cleaning or sanitizing. In fact, hoarders fall on the OCD spectrum, and clearly there is not an issue with contamination or germ phobia there.
However, there is a difference between OCD and other forms of anxiety. You can have obsessive worries without having OCD, though it does sound like you are having a lot of anxiety. Have you considered talking to your doctor?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Aethelflaed I got a 29 on screening test you linked. :\

Cruiser's avatar

Right now it is exercise and a bubble bath in the jacuzzi while I read before bed.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Aethelflaed I scored a 2 on that test. Someone check my pulse to make sure I’m not dead.

KidCurtis's avatar

I usually only even attempt to relax after work, usually by a shower and a change of clothes in conjunction with a beer or two.

Hibernate's avatar

I just sleep :) ... if not there’s always the magic mushrooms.

JLeslie's avatar

@Inked_up_chic Moving is usually a huge stressor. Up there with losing a loved one.

What do you mean by settlement?

JLeslie's avatar

I scored a 7 by the way.

wundayatta's avatar

Exercise. Make music. Dance with friends. Read. Fluther.

King_Pariah's avatar

Read, sleep, just sit or lay down for awhile listening to music. If I can, replying to an email/chatting with a friend.

Jude's avatar

Hot bath, go for a walk on the beach, or in the woods. Sit down by the lake and chill.

Mariah's avatar

I can’t say I’m much good at it, so this answer is just how I attempt to relax.

These are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from therapy:
1.) Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen from this situation, and how bad would that really be, in the grand scheme of things? (Only use on unreasonable fear…it’s counter productive if the worst that could happen is truly horrible).
2.) Find something positive you can believe in. Just a thought like, “a year from now, this ‘crisis’ will not matter to me at all” can be very comforting.
3.) Think about and be aware of your emotions, and ask yourself if they are productive. If crying feels like a release, it’s productive. If staying up late tonight to take care of business will ease the stress for you tomorrow, it might be productive (but never underestimate a good night’s sleep, either). Fretting is not productive. Sometimes it feels impossible not to worry, but ask yourself, what am I accomplishing by worrying? Is worrying about this giving me greater control over the situation, is it allowing me to construct a game plan? That might be productive. Or am I just worrying because it’s my automatic response when things aren’t going well? That’s not productive at all. Put your mind elsewhere.
4.) If the weather is nice, go outside. Nature is so uplifting (to me).

InkyAnn's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I have talked to my nuerologists they say I’ll have chronic mild anxiety for life now, but the extreme curiosity is new.

@JLeslie I had my accident at work so it’s my workmans comp settlement.

I got a 1 on the test… I think I may have took it wrong : /

wundayatta's avatar

Hmmm. Do the neurologists include a shrink?

With respect to this curiosity, would you say the thoughts come quickly and kind of jumbled? Like you are all over the place? Do you feel smarter than you used to be?

With the sleep, do you stay in bed, or do you get up and do things? How much sleep do you actually get? Do you ever feel tired, mentally? Or do you seem able to function pretty normally despite the lack of sleep?

Do you go out in the day? Do you work? Do you go shopping? Are you irritable?

gailcalled's avatar

Not only did I score a 0, but I think I am in the negative range. Yesterday I burned the bottom of my favorite 2-qt stainless steel sauce pan by forgetting I had quinoa on the boil. After spending 30” trying to clean the bottom with steel wool, I thew the thing into the woods. Who cares?

My sister is going to give me a timer on a string that I can wear around my neck in order to be a little more OC. Turn on kitchen stove, set timer, drop time on string around neck.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: timer

DreamTrees's avatar

Take a nap, try to change my focus, and figure things out. If it isn’t possible, I go to Plan B….and I always pray to ask for guidance.

Symbeline's avatar

Watching a movie, or two or three helps me. They help to take me away for a while, and I always end up feeling a little better after, more relaxed. Reading does the same for me.
This is besides the default boozehound answer, or havin a smoke lol.

lillycoyote's avatar

I got a 19 on @Aethelflaed screening test. Apparently, I am OCD, but not obsessively so.

Bellatrix's avatar

I got 1.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@lillycoyote Lol It’s just a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool.

Bellatrix's avatar

(That’s the lowest score I have ever got on any test!)

Pele's avatar

I do my nails and pluck my eyebrows, maybe give myself a facial, and read.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

*Could be that I drink a pot of coffee a day that I can’t relax or sleep but that’s just necessary roughness I think?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@GabrielsLamb That could definitely be a big contributor. Try cutting it down to one or two cups and see if that helps.

InkyAnn's avatar

@wundayatta in the begining I had one just to make sure I was mentally ok afterthe accident. Quickly yes, not jumbled, I feel the same intellectually as I did before, when I can’t sleep I get in and out of bed alot, the amount of sleep I get verys, some weeks only like 10 a week some way more then 8 hours a night. Don’t feel mentally tired just “slow”. Never irritable, I’m usually busy all day, work from 8–4 then with Bf and friends till about 10pm.

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