DiscoverCounselor Toolbox PodcastRelaxation and Recreation Activities
Relaxation and Recreation Activities

Relaxation and Recreation Activities

Update: 2020-06-131


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~ Review the function of mindfulness and a variety of mindfulness techniques

~ Explore the concept of relaxation

~ Identify different methods of relaxation


~ Being aware of your current state

~ Emotionally

~ Mentally

~ Physically

~ Spiritually

~ MindLESSness allows people to ignore “minor” stress until it adds up to a meltdown

~ What discriminative stimuli can you put in the environment to remind you to do a mindfulness scan?

Mindfulness Activities

~ Body scan

~ Mindful Breathing

~ Mindful Observation

~ Specific object

~ Environmental awareness

~ Mindful awareness – Think before you act

~ Mindful appreciation: Notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated.

More Mindfulness Activities

~ 4+4

~ 4 Senses plus 4 stimuli: Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell

~ What are 4 things that I see

~ What are 4 things I am hearing

~ What are 4 things I am feeling

~ What are 4 things I can smell

~ Tactile Mindfulness

~ Pinch or ice cube

~ Helps tune in to how you deal with pain and what emotions rise

More Mindfulness Activities

~ “I” and “You” Exercise

~ Pay attention to how often you use the word I in a sentence

~ I feel

~ I am

~ I will etc…

~ Pay attention to how often you use the word “you”

~ In a blaming, directing or accusatory fashion

~ In an inquiring, compassionate fashion

More Mindfulness Activities

~ Cause and effect

~ Play out the story for everything that you do for a given period of time

~ I got out of bed because…. The effect of this is…

~ Devil’s Advocate

~ Act as if you believe the opposite of what you believe about something. Make a note of how you feel and new perspectives you gain.


~ Relieving the mind and body of stress, tension, anxiety and restoring equilibrium

~ Emotional

~ Increase pleasant cues in your environment

~ Sound: Music, birds, silence, waterfall,

~ Sights: Pictures, colors, organization, safety

~ Feel: Temperature, texture

~ Smell: Crisp air, aromatherapy


~ Cognitive

~ Don’t think…just be (meditation)

~ Guided Imagery

~ Reading something enjoyable/nonstressful

~ Learning a new hobby is often not relaxation in it’s truest sense because it takes a fair amount of energy, however, it does distract from other stressors


~ Physical—Relieve pain and muscular imbalances and regulate bloodflow

~ Stretching

~ Massage

~ Hottub

~ Progressive muscular relaxation

~ Breath work


~ Social

~ Social environments that promote calm, tranquility and happiness

~ Laughter is an excellent relaxation technique.

~ Extroverts may be more comfortable around a group of people, interruptions are welcomed

~ Introverts may find a gathering of one or two others without interruptions is optimal

~ “Judgers” do not like surprises and need to plan for the event (the unknown or unpredictable is stressful)

~ “Perceivers” love surprises and prefer not to exert the mental energy of planning everything out


~ Environmental

~ What makes an environment relaxing for you?

~ Colors

~ Sights

~ Light level

~ Temperature

~ Location

~ Sounds

~ Organization


~ Current literature supports the comprehensive health benefits of exposure to nature and green environments on human systems.

~ Nature therapy is recommended for reducing the modern-day “stress-state” and “technostress.

~ Green space exposure reduce mortality, heart rate, and violence, and improve attention, mood, and physical activity.

~ Green space exposure and children's emotional and behavioral difficulties, particularly with hyperactivity and inattention problems


~ Recreation is different from art therapy in that it is not designed to delve into past issues.

~ Recreation can be beneficial to the individual by:

~ Decreasing cortisol and stress chemicals

~ Increasing relaxation chemicals

~ Distracting from a problem to enhance clarity

~ Increasing wonder and awe

~ Increasing self esteem and efficacy

Individual Recreation Activities

~ Nature Walk

~ Gardening

~ Meditation

~ Yoga

~ Martial Arts

~ Sports/exercise

~ Dancing

~ Art (painting, drawing, crocheting, woodworking…)

~ Music – Listening, performing or singing

~ Playing with animals (Yours or at the pound)

~ Going to a museum, gallery, arboretum

~ Movies

~ Reading / Library

~ Boating /kayaking

~ Cooking

~ Any hobby

~ Volunteering


~ Activities that increase interpersonal interaction are rarely effective at remediating loneliness because many people have trouble making meaningful social connections without support (depression, addiction, grief, dementia…)

~ Activities that promote “social productivity” which is based on the notion of reciprocity (planning and contributing as well as benefitting from the relationship) has a positive effect on resilience, health and well-being

~ Less emphasis on “making you like me” more on shared goals and interests

~ Social productivity and peer support are pillars for recovery and wellbeing (addiction, anxiety, depression, dementia, weight loss, grief resolution, wellbeing enhancement…)

~ Peers can be conceptualized as others with similar issues or goals

Recreation—Planning, Contributing, Peers

~ Art Therapy

~ Enhance family communication (Family flag, Gratitude tree)

~ Normalize and provide peer support for shared experiences (Trauma quilt)

~ Family photo blanket or book

Recreation—Planning, Contributing, Peers

~ Nature

~ Nature walks (mindfulness, stress reduction, conservation)

~ Community Garden (self sufficiency, enhanced nutrition)

~ Meditation Garden (plants, décor)

Recreation—Planning, Contributing, Peers

~ Music

~ Themed playlists

~ Meaningful lyrics

~ Performing (even karaoke)

~ Community Classes and Meetups (hiking, cooking, new parents, sober living, veganism…)

~ Drama Clubs

~ Team-based board games (Pictionary, taboo, charades…)

~ Fundraising / Cause Support


~ Mindfulness involves increasing awareness of our emotional, mental and physical selves

~ Mindfulness helps us develop an understanding of external stimuli that influence ourselves

~ Relaxation is a technique used to restore equilibrium after a period of stress

~ As clients increase self-awareness, they will be able to

~ Identify signs of distress earlier

~ Implement relaxation strategies to prevent upheaval

~ Learn their own stress triggers and effective interventions

~ Recreation is used to increase self efficacy and positive feelings in individuals as well as enhance communication and reduce loneliness between individuals









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Relaxation and Recreation Activities

Relaxation and Recreation Activities

Charles Snipes