The new concept of "active rest" lets you quiet your body and mind while still getting out and moving around.

It sounds counterintuitive, but this relaxation technique doesn't have to be done off your feet. Decompressing isn't always about stillness and silence (restless women's nemeses). "Focusing on one specific task and blocking out intrusive, unsettling thoughts can induce a relaxation response," says Kathy J. Helzlsouer, M.D., of the Prevention and Research Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

The goal is to do one thing—and one thing only—by yourself, says Susan Ginsberg, of the Chicago-based Stop and Breathe program.

Look for simple actions that aren't taxing but still require your full attention. Easy bike rides are ideal for active rest because you need to concentrate—but not too hard—on pedaling, steering, and focusing on the road. Likewise, painting your nails requires a steady hand and uniform strokes. And hobbies like knitting or drawing force you to focus on rhythmic movements and patterns.

Here's the trick: You must choose an activity that matches your current mood and energy levels, says Melissa McCreery, Ph.D. So, if you feel physically antsy, go for a quiet nature walk. If your mind is racing but you're tired, get lost in a book. If your restlessness typically leads to something like stress eating, keep your hands and mind focused on a crossword puzzle.

In short, customize your active rest to suit you, not the other way around—otherwise, it won't work.

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