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Still up you just need to relax

Lots of people stress out about talking in front of the class or getting laughed at if they make a mistake in front of an audience. Feeling nervous before a performance is natural — and part of your body's way of helping you do your best.

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This is such an inspiring yet simple quote! At times, we get so embroiled in our hectic lifestyles with deadlines to meet and work-life pressure that we actually forget to relax! Yet relaxing for just 5 minutes periodically by stepping away from what is causing our stress levels to rise, can give us the energy we need to tackle our workload or problem we are facing. A certain amount of stress is necessary to deal with difficult situations in our everyday lives. Physical changes in our bodies occur enabling us to take action, which fades quickly once the problem encountered has gone.

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Many of us have forgotten how to truly unwind. We ask the experts for ways to switch off in an always-on world.

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H ow do you like to kick back, chill out and really relax? This sounds as if it should be a simple question. Relaxing is increasingly difficult in our always-on digital world.

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This first struck me a couple of years ago when I had to stop exercising after an injury. I recently started again, but having only one means to de-stress now feels very limited and I am not even sure it counts as relaxing — it is quite hard work, and inherently competitive.

When I find myself at home with a free evening, I often have no idea what to do and inevitably end up staring emptily at one screen or another for hours, before stumbling off to bed, wondering where the time has gone.

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This seems to be a common problem. Those of us who spent our money on these products were presumably searching for answers to some of the same questions — and many of us are still looking. Seven in 10 of us never turn them off. The clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew says she sees the problem every day in her consulting room, and it is getting worse.

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The same issues come up again and again: technology, phones, work s and social media. Kicking back in front of one screen or another does have its place, says Andrew — but it depends how you do it. I have confused feeling brain-dead with feeling relaxed.

The psychoanalyst David Morganof the Institute of Psychoanalysis, believes that for many of us this deadening retreat to our screens is both a reason for and a consequence of the fact that we no longer know how to relax and enjoy ourselves. Our screens and what we use them for are all techniques of distraction, he says.

5 ways to beat pre-performance nerves

It is a way of not seeing oneself, because to have insight into oneself requires mental space, and all these distraction techniques are used as a way of avoiding getting close to the self. Some of her patients, Andrew explains, simply never get around to thinking about how they want to spend their time. For others, the notion of being in touch with their own needs and desires is totally alien, says Andrew.

People who grew up in a family environment that centred around the needs of a sibling or a parent might have spent their whole lives never being asked about what they wanted to do.

Top tips: rediscover the lost art of relaxation

For those people, identifying something they might find enjoyably relaxing, and pursuing it, can be a huge, life-changing shift. Another problem is that it can be tricky to untangle our own wishes from those of the people around us, says Nina Grunfeld, the founder of Life Clubsan organisation that aims to help people live more fulfilling lives. And I got home completely shattered. It was only after coming to know myself, after thinking about my life without him and what I like as an individual, that I realised that for me to enjoy a holiday and to come back feeling relaxed and refreshed, I need to read and be still.

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I might him for the restaurants, though. Speaking to Grunfeld and Andrew, and hearing their advice see on how to identify different occupations that might relax and reinvigorate me, I begin to feel optimistic.

How to relax: tips for chilling out

I think back to how I liked to pass the time when I was young; the quiet times sitting reading a book, the rowdier times baking with friends. I resolve to make more time to do the adult versions of these things over the next year — then realise I am making excuses.

If I could redirect the evenings I am already wasting on screens, that would be a good start. The fact is, I do already do all those ideal things occasionally, but sometimes it feels as if being in the world is too much, and I need to disappear from it by losing myself in a screen. Having psychoanalytic psychotherapy is helping me to think about the reasons why I might do this — and for Morgan, therapy can be an important pathway out of being stuck in a screen-gazing rut, because it is somewhere a person is encouraged to use his or her mind.

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I have found that not running away from things, but confronting them and reflecting on them, can feel as exhausting as the running itself. It is difficult, disturbing work.

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But in a room with someone who can listen and help me to make sense of things, it can also be a relief. Having a mind to help you think about things, having a person who can think deeply about things with you, is a way to manage this very frightening fact of life. Try to remember what you most enjoyed doing asthen identify the most important aspect of that activity and find the adult version.

Experiment with looking at the world in a new way. Just walk around wherever you are and see what you can find that is completely new.

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The main barriers to relaxation are technology, phones, work s and social media. Moya Sarner.

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