In today’s modern world, finding the time in our busy days to switch off and relax can be difficult.
It can feel like we’re constantly on the go and the only time we stop is when we sleep.
But relaxation is vital to give our mind and body time to recharge and unwind.
We were curious to explore whether people across the UK regularly find time to relax and, if so, what activity helps them feel most calm. So, we surveyed 500 people to find out. Here’s what we discovered.
How often do we relax?
Can you remember the last time you felt fully relaxed? When you had no one asking you to do anything and nowhere you needed to go? A time to just ‘be’?
If you’re struggling to recall the last time this happened, you’re not alone.
Our results revealed that of those we surveyed, the average person only has time to relax three times per week. (a) While this may seem acceptable, when you factor in that there are seven days in a week and 24 hours in a day, putting your feet up just three times a week really isn’t that much.
Some demographics fared slightly better than others. For example, 12% of the males we surveyed said they feel relaxed all week through, compared to just 7% of females. (b) And when it came to young vs older, only 2% of adults aged 35 to 44 said they felt relaxed all week, compared to more than 12% of those aged 16 to 24. (c)
Interestingly, more than 10% of those surveyed between the ages of 45 and 54 said they don’t take the time to relax even though they have the time. (d) Could it be that we’ve simply forgotten how to take it easy? Perhaps we feel selfish for actually pausing, taking a breath and prioritising our rest.
For many of us, our days are filled with work commitments, the school run, cleaning, shopping, and trying to squeeze in an hour at the gym if we’re lucky. But the more we keep busy and ignore rest, the more our bodies become stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. When this happens, stimulating hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol kick in, keeping us alert and wired all day long, to the point where we can’t switch off even when we want to. (1)
Who are we with when we feel most relaxed?
It seems nothing beats a bit of quality time on your own. 30% of those surveyed said they feel most relaxed when alone. This was closely followed by being with their partner at 23%, and then family at 13%. (e)
If you're single, you may be more likely to feel relaxed around friends than those in relationships. More than 14% of those we surveyed who were not dating said they felt most chilled when they were with their friends, compared to only 8% of those who were married. (f)
It’s probably unsurprising to learn that under 6% of respondents said they felt most relaxed around their children. However, despite being a nation of animal lovers, only 5% said they felt most calm when with their furry friends. (g)
What are we doing when we feel the most relaxed?
Winding down with screen time
Whether we like it or not, screens are everywhere. We are spoilt for choice, from mobile phones to tablets and computer screens to televisions. But do they help us relax?
According to our survey results, watching television was the most popular response when we asked what people typically do when they feel at their most chilled. (h) This was a particular favourite amongst those living in the Southeast of England, with more than 47% of people reporting TV as their most relaxing activity. (i)
Television has long been the ‘go-to’ activity when we need something to help us switch off from a busy day. And now, with a seemingly endless supply of streaming services at our fingertips, you can always find something to lose yourself in for a few hours.
Some find escaping into a virtual reality more calming. More than 15% of the men surveyed said playing video games helped them relax, compared to just over 6% of females. (j)
Although many of us are guilty of mindless scrolling on our devices, it seems we don’t actually find this very soothing. Only 8% of those surveyed said scrolling social media helped them feel relaxed. (k)
Drifting off to a peaceful slumber
A good snooze helps our bodies rest and repair and may even help boost our immune system defences. (2) So, it's probably no surprise that sleeping was one of the most popular responses when we asked our respondents what they usually do when they feel most relaxed. (l)
In fact, a whopping 45% of those surveyed from Greater London said sleeping helped them unwind the most. (m)
Our bodies need to be relaxed before we’re able to drift off, so our bodies must switch from the ‘fight or flight’ to the ‘rest and digest’ response if we are to have a restful slumber. (1)
Soaking in the tub
What could be more relaxing than a lovely long soak in a bubble bath with candles, essential oils and Epsom salts to relieve those tired, achy muscles?
It may also be the only time you get to enjoy an hour or so completely interrupted by children, work, or your partner, which is probably why almost 30% of the females we surveyed said they feel most at ease when they’re in the bath or taking a shower. (n)
Being in nature
More than 25% of those we surveyed aged 55 and over said that connecting with nature was the activity they usually do when they want some much-needed R&R. (o)
According to Mind, spending time in the great outdoors amongst nature and greenery can do wonders for reducing stress and boosting our mood. And it doesn’t have to involve exercise (this was one of the activities people felt the least relaxing). (p) You could try something as simple as spending more time in your garden, tending to plants or herbs, or simply being around animals more. (3)
Finding your zen
Only 8% of those surveyed listed meditating as the activity that helps them feel most relaxed. (q) Men were twice as likely as women to undertake this activity to help them unwind, with more than 10% of males reporting meditation helps them chill out, compared to just 5% of females. (r)
Meditation is excellent for helping us feel more present. It helps us clear our minds and allow our bodies the time it needs to de-stress. Meditation, just like relaxation, takes practice. Gradually, over time, your body will become more used to it, and you will be able to reach a state of relaxation much quicker and easier. (4)
What happens to our bodies if we don’t take time to relax?
If we’re constantly busy and never take the time to slow down, our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, which over time can impact our ability to rest, repair, digest and even sleep.
Dr Sophie Bostock explains more about this here - https://www.instagram.com/reel/CZr1TTkIPNF/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Things you can do to relax
Maintaining a slow and steady breathing rate can help signal to the brain that we’re not under threat, which allows our bodies to switch from the ‘fight or flight’ to the ‘rest and digest’ response. You can try many different breathing techniques, such as box breathing, where you inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for four and then exhale for four. Begin with five minutes and notice how you feel. (1)
We often rush from one thing to the next, so slowing down and being aware of what is happening around you can help you feel more present. You could begin with a mindful walk, noticing the ground beneath you and the feel of the breeze as you go. (5)
Unleash your creativity
Rather than reaching for the TV remote, why not find a hobby? Perhaps it’s something you used to do but lost time for, or maybe it’s something completely new. You could try sketching, painting, baking, playing an instrument or even just dancing to your favourite music to help you feel more connected to your body. (6)
Connect with nature
You don’t need to schedule a hike to feel more at one with nature. You could start by going for a walk around the park during your lunch break, starting your own veggie patch, or putting a bird feeder in your garden to witness wonderful wildlife every day. (6)
Disconnect from all devices
We don’t need to be connected all the time. Leave your phone at home when you go for a lunchtime stroll or put your phone in a separate room in the evening to give your eyes a break from screen time and allow your mind time to switch off. (6)
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to helping you feel more relaxed and well-rested for the next day, which is why we do everything we can to ensure you get one.
We use sleeppro®, our exclusive sleep technology, to learn more about your sleeping position by testing different firmness ratings to create a personalised sleep profile to help you find the right mattress.
a)Of the 500 people surveyed, 3.38 was the mean number when asked ‘On average, how many times per week, if at all, would you say you get time to fully relax?’
b)31 of 254 males surveyed answered ‘I’m fully relaxed throughout the whole week’ when asked ‘On average, how many times per week, if at all, would you say you get time to fully relax?’ compared to 19 of 246 females who gave the same response.
c)8 of 65 people surveyed aged 16 to 24 answered ‘‘I’m fully relaxed throughout the whole week’ when asked ‘On average, how many times per week, if at all, would you say you get time to fully relax?’ compared to 2 of 77 people aged 35 to 44 who gave the same response.
d)8 of 78 people surveyed aged 45 to 54 answered ‘I do not take time to relax even though I have the time’ when asked ‘On average, how many times per week, if at all, would you say you get time to fully relax?’
e)Of the 500 people surveyed, 152 answered ‘I am on my own when I feel most relaxed’, 118 answered ‘with my partner’ and 68 answered ‘with my family’ when asked ‘Who, if anyone, are you typically with when you feel the most relaxed?’
f)16 of 112 people surveyed who identified their relationship status as ‘single’ answered ‘with my friends’ when asked ‘Who, if anyone, are you typically with when you feel the most relaxed?’ compared to 18 of 202 people surveyed who identified their relationship status as ‘married’ and gave the same response.
g)Of the 500 people surveyed, 28 answered ‘with my children’ and 25 answered ‘with my pet(s)’, when asked ‘Who, if anyone, are you typically with when you feel the most relaxed?’
h)37.20% (186 of 500) people surveyed answered ‘watching television’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
i)33 of 70 people surveyed from Southeast England answered, ‘watching television’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
j)39 of 246 males surveyed answered ‘playing video games’ when asked, ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’ compared to 16 of 254 females surveyed who gave the same response.
k)44 of 500 people surveyed answered ‘scrolling through social media’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
l)165 of 500 people surveyed answered ‘sleeping’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
m)30 of 66 people surveyed from Greater London answered ‘sleeping’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
n)75 of 254 females surveyed answered ‘having a bath or shower’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
o)50 of 193 people surveyed aged 55 and over answered ‘connecting with nature’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
p)73 of 500 people surveyed answered ‘exercising’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
q)40 of 500 people surveyed answered ‘meditating’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’
r)10.57% (26 of 246) males surveyed answered ‘meditating’ when asked ‘What, if anything, are you most frequently doing when you feel the most relaxed?’ compared to 5.51% (14 of 254) females surveyed who gave the same response.