As busy choir leaders organising rehearsals, repertoire, performances and all the administration that goes with it, plus leading our busy lives, it can be easy to forget to relax! Relaxation is crucial, it allows us to take a break, to take time for ourselves and to feel restored so that we can move forward with a calm, clear and focused mind.
Here are my five great ways to relax, but I'd love to open this out and hear from you about your top relaxation tips. I'm sure they'll be a wide range of suggestions which can help inspire others. You may be super-efficient at including relaxation time into your week already, but if not I challenge you to try at least one thing this week and see what difference it makes.
After a busy day or first thing in the morning, I love to go for a swim. I'm not an amazing swimmer by any stretch of the imagination but the feeling of being in the water and doing a few lengths is so relaxing, it gives me a great boost. If doing lengths is not your thing why not try an aqua aerobics class? This can be great fun, sociable and is a great way to get fit.
Now again, I'm not going to win the Tour de France any time soon and I've been told by my more cycle-knowledgeable friends that my inexpensive bike weighs a ton, but I just love getting out on my bike. The sense of freedom it gives me is amazing. Choosing not to get involved with the traffic (not sure that's relaxing), I enjoy cycling off-road along tracks. If you enjoy time on your bike you could plan a route, go cycling with a friend or even look to join a local club.
Yoga is so calming yet gives you an amazing all round stretch and develops your strength. As choir leaders it's easy to suffer with tension, particularly in the shoulders and neck. Yoga is a great antidote and something I enjoy at home with DVDs. I always aim to include a short session on days when I know things will be hectic and I'm doing a lot of teaching or leading my choir. Why not look out for a local yoga class? You will probably find both daytime and evening options so that you can fit it to your schedule.
Time with friends
I'm always conscious to make time for seeing friends. Sometimes this can be during the week but tends mostly to be at weekends. I love catching up with everyone, relaxing and having a giggle. It's definitely good for the soul. I think it's so important to do this especially if you work from home which can be more isolating than being in a workplace with colleagues. I enjoy coming up with ideas whether cooking at home or going out.
Okay, so this is something most of us do already but walking is so good for you, particularly when you pick up the pace. Walking has no cost involved and you can fit it in whenever you need a break. Have a think about your weekly routine, are there are times when you drive or take puclic transport but could walk instead? Walking is a great way to clear the mind but also gain clarity on issues or ideas that you were struggling with at your desk or computer. So many times I've been needing inspiration for warm-ups, rehearsals or reprtoire and a good brisk walk was all that was needed!