Learning to relax by having a blood test

Today I had to go for a blood test so now I’m trying to relax. Some people have this done and walk out of the surgery to get on with their lives. Not me. I spent an hour in a coffee shop drinking sugary tea and trying not to pass out before struggling home and realising my day might not be as productive as planned.

I’m a big doer. Boyfriend gets annoyed, he’s a big not-doer; he can sit and play Playstation for hours and not feel guilty. I often only properly relax when my body forces me to, like today with the blood test reaction.

I thought I’d be clever and do deep breathing to try to relax during the test. Apparently doing deep breathing during a blood test makes you feel more faint, who knew?

I don’t know how to relax

When I was a teenager I suffered from chronic fatigue. It was basically one long period where my body was forcing me to relax. Except it wasn’t relaxing, it was being at home being away from other people and feeling guilty for not being normal. Maybe this is why, now I can do lots of things, I do as much as I can. Perhaps for fear that if I stop I won’t be able to start again. A friend also had chronic fatigue as a teenager and feels the same way.

From when I could do things again I was always piling too much on my plate and subsequently being told I should relax. I get stressed out about things a lot, worry about stuff I’m working on/possible future events. The thing is if you’ve ever been told ‘you need to relax’ you’ll know it tends to make you more tense.

Learning to relax

The thing is I preach the power of relaxation to others all the time, it’s about time I practise what I preach. Yoga has been a big presence in my life this past year and a bit, and it’s definitely helping me tune in to myself and take time for my own relaxation. My favourite YouTube yoga teacher Adriene Mishler recently sent a newsletter out. It’s about listening to our natural rhythm, and one question really struck me.

"If I asked you to relax more would you say no?" Adriene Mishler


Honestly, yes I probably would. I’d say I haven’t got the time, there’s so much stuff I have to do. But really it’s probably because I’m scared to relax, to let go. I recently wrote about how I want to implement follow your gut time into each day. So far this week I haven’t been successful with that. Why? Because I find it hard to differentiate what my gut wants to do and what I should do.

So I’m setting a resolution right now to make time to relax everyday. Because I know how important doing nothing is for me. I want to tune into my natural rhythm not just when my body screams at me, and who knows maybe doing so will mean I don’t nearly pass out next time I have a blood test! As Adriene also says in her newsletter:

Stand your ground and take time for you.

Let me know how you relax and how you make time for it in your schedule in the comments below. I’m off to have a relaxing hot tea…


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  • Okay. You know when you read something, and it resonates so well with you, it leaves you in shock?

    So, that happened to me with this article.

    I started reading because the title drew me in – I just had a blood test this morning, so, I thought, let’s see! But as I kept on reading, I was struck at how well this article fits with my thoughts and goals right now…especially the part about learning and tuning in to your natural rhythm.

    “Because I find it hard to differentiate what my gut wants to do and what I should do. ”

    This, yes. You found the words to express it 🙂 I couldn’t put a name to it. I have some experience with anxiety, remnants of panic attacks. Basically, my body and my mind have formed a habit of reacting a certain way to some sensations and factors, and I’m trying to break that habit, but it’s a slow process. I often find it hard to relax, because I am having trouble interpreting the signals my own body is sending me. Do I feel relaxed now? Can I feel relaxed, am I allowed to, isn’t there something I should do? Should I feel relaxed – is it normal under the circumstances? What relaxes me?

    All questions that are supposed to be easy…but when it comes to actually doing it, yeah, not so much. I get so caught up in trying to figure out what I am feeling and what I need that I usually just end up with a big, anxiety-ridden mess of thoughts.

    Things I found helpful in relaxing…yoga. Yoga with Adriene. But I guess that’s implied :D. Thing is, it was mind blowing to me to discover that at different times, different things can be relaxing (maybe that’s because I was so desperate to get to that relaxation part of relieving anxiety, that I wanted a quick, work-for-all fix). Walks…especially through the park, or nature, for when the same four walls box me in, and doing the same things gets to be too much. A good movie, usually comedy, or Disney…under a fluffy blanket with some snacks at the end of a long day. Meditation, usually before sleep. Reading…but not when I’ve been working and my brain feels fried. Writing – for when the emotions are overwhelming.

    Long-winded comment aside, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts. This article truly helped me.

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment Ana, I’m so happy my post resonated with you. It’s really interesting to me to read about your experience with this too, and it’s nice to know that at least we’re not alone in feeling this way. I think in our society we are so overwhelmed by choices of things to do to relax, and also a feeling we need to be constantly busy that it can be so hard to just let go.

      I really like what you say about different things being relaxing at different times. This is so true, and definitely worth remembering. It’s a good idea to have a list of go-to things that we find relaxing for different times, as you have. Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and to share your experience on the subject. Hopefully we can both get better at this relaxing thing. Also I hope your blood test went okay, my arm still hurts!