April was Stress Awareness Month but it’s important to monitor your stress levels and find ways to relax all year long. Relaxation has numerous benefits including increased productivity, better focus, a more pleasant outlook on life, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, improved sleep, and it helps to relieve insomnia and depression.

The McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says: “The benefits of using a relaxation technique are overwhelming. Practicing relaxation exercises 20–30 minutes on a daily basis can produce, over time, a general feeling of relaxation and increased wellbeing that benefits every area of your life. When you feel relaxed and at ease, you feel more in control which leads to calm, realistic responses.”

That’s huge, right? We think so. But just in case you’re not convinced, Tony Schwartz, as published in The New York Times says, “The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.”

Motivated yet? We were! So we came up with 12 unexpected ways to relax right now. Take just a second to try one or more of these and see if you find from some of the stress reduction benefits above for yourself!

1. Step away from the TV.
In fact, take a break from all bright screens like your phone, computer, and tablet. Then, sit down somewhere quiet, and take a few deep, meditative breaths. Take a few minutes to focus on yourself, not on all that remains on your to-do list.