Francesca Annis Photos 2016

A lifelong love of gentle exercise and good deep breaths has helped actress Francesca Annis learn some quick tricks to de-stress

My life in London is very busy, so I love escaping to fresh air and big open spaces. We film Home Fires for ITV in Chester, which is small in comparison everything’s within walking distance. It’s mostly women in the cast with a sprinkling of men, and at the end of the day we all go back to the same hotel and the pub. We’re busy on set, but going out in the evening together is wonderful and very relaxing. Back in London, where everyone is rushing around, I have quick fixes to help me when I’m stressed or fatigued. I tell myself to relax my shoulders, which always makes them drop a good inch and a half, and breathe deeply. When people get stressed they do not breathe properly, which makes them feel worse.

I’ve been doing yoga for about 25 years, but you can’t stand on your head every time you need to relax! The trick I will do anywhere is to lie with my legs up against the wall at right angles. I would champion it for anyone. I will do that when I’m talking to friends on the phone or watching TV. I have always enjoyed exercise it keeps you from seizing up. I did ballet when I was very young, and I go to keep fit workouts and jazz dance classes. There are so many marvellous classes that it is easy to find something fun that you like to do. I also like walking in clean country air I go abroad and walk for two or three days. I go into a bit of a zen state where I let all my thoughts go and totally relax. And I love to be on my bike there is just something so nice about travelling at that pace.

I really like to exercise my legs because I’m used to dancing, but our poor feet, by and large, get so neglected. When I have been running around and feel like they are asking me for a treat, I will soak them in hot water with salts or go to a Chinese herbalist. They massage them and do reflexology and that is so relaxing. I’m a bit of a puritan: I think no pain, no gain, so if you can give me a good, deep body massage, that’s absolute heaven. Francesca Annis on life, death and love – Telegraph Ltf

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