Learning to relax is a vital part of staying healthy, both physically as well as mentally.  There is no right way to relax but you should ideally be aiming for an activity which calms you.  When you are calm your breathing is slowed and it comes with ease, your muscles feel loosened and free of tension and your thoughts start to slow down and you feel able to think clearly.  

There are a number of activities you can do to coax your body and mind into this state.  These include the following:

- taking a long warm bath - heat is good for aiding the release of tension from muscles and if you like you can also add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.  Oils that aid relaxation include lavender, camomile, clary sage, cedarwood and rosemary.  Only use up to 5 drops per bath and never apply essential oils neat to the skin.  Always dilute them in bathwater or a carrier oil.  See an qualified aromatherapist for more information.
- yoga, pilates or tai chi are all good for calming the mind and excellent for improving fitness and self awareness.
- get outdoors and around nature like a local park, your garden/allotment or a nature reserve.
- mediate (more on this in coming months).
- spend time with a pet.
- reading - although best not to read anything too heavy or work-related, something light like a novel or magazine are best.
- get creative - having a creative outlet for your feelings can be really helpful for working through stress

These are just a few suggestions, but by no means an exhaustive list.  If you feel you are struggling to cope with stress and feel its affecting your health it maybe helpful to speak to your family doctor.  There is also a list of useful websites and organisations in the useful links section.