Tag Archives: Relaxation

Strategies for Relaxation

If you haven’t figured it out already, I need to make a confession: I am very easily stressed out. As I wrote on Thursday, I have been on or over the edge of a meltdown a couple of times lately. Since we are discussing what helps us relax on the spin cycle this week, I thought I’d list a couple of things.

1. Mindfulness and meditation. I do guided meditations every once in a while. Simply focusing on my breathing for a bit also helps. It is important not to make yourself do anything other than focus. If your attention drifts off, notice it and go back to focusing on the meditation or your breathing. You can also use a mantra.

2. Yoga. I discussed this before. Yoga can be hard when you do difficult poses, but remember yoga is for everyone. If you can’t do a certain pose exactly as experienced yogis do it, there is usually a way to adapt it to make it easier. That way, you are practising self-care, which is important in relaxation.

3. Essential oils. I own an AromaStream essential oil diffuser. It doesn’t use water or heat, so can be left on without supervision or even when you’re sleeping. There are many oils that are thought of as having relaxing properties. Examples are chamomile, lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine. You can of course make diffuser blends.

4. Herbal teas. I have discussed these a few times. I find particularly chamomile, lavender and valerian root relaxing. St. John’s wort is thought of as having antidepressant properties.

5. Soothing music or sounds. I find that, while music that’s a little more upbeat helps cheer me up, if I truly need to relax, I benefit from nature sounds and soft music.

6. Blankets. I still need to buy myself a weighted blanket. However, lots of regular blankets also do the trick of helping me relax.

What helps yu relieve stress and relax? I’d love to read your responses in the comments or in a post of your own. Why not link it up with the spin cycle?

Ways to Unwind #TuesdayTen

Yesterday, my psychologist, the staff and I had a meeting to discuss how we could better cooperate. It was a good meeting, but still I was a bit anxious beforehand. We discussed ways in which we could keep the lines of communication open instead of getting stuck on negativity, and how the staff could help me prevent piling up stress. I do have a crisis prevention plan, but it is pretty useless once I’m already in the dark orange or red state. So preventing me from getting this stressed is key.

Today’s Tuesday Ten theme comes in a timely manner. It is Nationnal Hammock Day (in the U.S.). Having lay in a hammock a handful times on vacation, I can totally attest to its relaxing effects. Then again, we don’t have one ready here to lie in when I’m stressed, so I have to come up with other ways to relax. Here are ten:


  1. Writing. Writing has always been an activity I used to unwind. I was an avid storywriter in my teens, but unfortunately lost that skill. Since I got an Internet connection, I started writing for a wider audience. It can be stressful when I “have to” write a blog post, but it can be deeply relaxing when I write from my muse. I also continued writing for just me until I few years back, and really need to start the offline journal again.

  2. Some crafts. Like with writing, crafting can be frustrating. However, crafts that I find easy such as stringing beads on a wire or basic looming are quite a good way to focus my attention on something else while not needing so much concentration that it becomes frustrating.

  3. Fidgeting. I used to be reprimanded a lot for playing with my hair or fidgeting in other ways. I’ve basically stopped caring and my parents are not here to dictate that I cannot fidget anyway. I love playing with my handmde jewelry.

  4. Coffee. Okay, I know that caffeine isn’t supposed to be good when you want to relax, but I consider drinking a nice cuppa quite relaxing.

  5. Herbal tea. For a bit of balance when I’ve drunk too much coffee. Particularly chamomile tea has relaxing properties, but I usually blend different herbs because the act of brewing my own tea is relaxing in itself.

  6. Music. I don’t tend to listen to music while doing other things, such as writing. When I do listen to music, I usually “dance” to it as I listen to the lyrics. I find this quite a help in thinking without getting stressed.

  7. Talking it out. I find that talking about what makes me stressed helps when I worry a lot. I also find that a chat about something that interests me also helps me refocus my attention.

  8. Taking a shower or bath. I love bathing, and can’t fathom that I’ve never used the bathtub on my ward in over a year of being here. A hot shower (except when it’s hot outside like now) usually does the trick too.

  9. The Internet. I love to unwind online. I’m not sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse that most online games are not accessible to my screen reader. I however like playing mindless word games on Internet forums, too.

  10. Spending time outside. I practically cannot take walks outside on my own, but the nurses sometimes take me on walks. We also have a nice garden that I like to sit in when the weather is nice.


The Golden Spoons

Comfort Rooms: Not a Convenient Alternative to Seclusion

A few days ago, the owner of a blindness and mental health E-mail group I am on started a discussion about comfort rooms. Commonly, they’re seen as a kind of less restrictive alternative to seclusion or restraint, but this is a misconception. I have personally experienced being placed in the comfort room and not allowed to come out. Being blind, I also didn’t really notice the comfort room atmosphere, which should be relaxing. In all honesty, the comfort room at the locked ward in the big city institution I was in, was little more than a beautified seclusion room. While the comfort room at my current ward in the small town institution is more calming in its ambiance, I still sometimes get told that I can go into the comfort room in a tone of voice as if I’m being secluded.

In reality, comfort rooms are but one form of relaxation for an irritable patient. For others, going for a walk, listening to music or exercising on a stationary bike might help. I can see why nurses choose the comfort room over some of its alternatives, for a patient in a comfort room requires relatively little care. That is, they are presumed to require relativley little care. All five or so times I spent in comfort rooms, once in my current institution and about four times in the city one, I was left alone whether I wanted to be alone or could safely be alone or not. In this sense, the Netherlands is different from other countries, where patients in crisis are placed under special observation. Here, if you need more care than the staff can provide, you’ll be placed in seclusion or “seclusion light”, ie. the comfort room.

A key aspect of introducing comfort rooms, is that they need to be embedded in a philosophy where the patient is actively engaged in their treatment. Time in the comfort room needs to be a choice. I for one find the comfort room particularly ineffective, and would rather go for a walk or exercise. One reason why I find the comfort room ineffective, besides having been coerced into using it, is accessibility. I didn’t have a clue what was in the comfort room, so was essentially just seated on a couch or chair. Granted, the couch in my current ward’s comfort room is actually comfortable, but the chairs in the city institution comfort room were definitely not. I recommend staff acquaint patients, especially blind ones, with the comfort room at time they’re not irritable and maybe they’ll need to assist the patient sometimes again when they’re using the comfort room for relaxation for the first few times. Staff may not like this, as many view the comfort room as a convenient way not to have to bother with irritable patients while looking like saints for avoiding seclusion. However, seclusion is not a substitute for proper care, and neither is the comfort room.