Relaxation: something so necessary for living a happy life, yet can so easily elude us on a daily basis. We have grown accustomed to hectic schedules, frenetic multitasking, and feeling guilty when we have a free moment. However, like vehicles, we have to stop and refuel, or we won’t be able to get moving. Here are some easy ways to relax in a world that doesn’t want you to:
1. Disconnect: We have programmed ourselves to never miss an update, text, email or celebrity Tweet. However, as humans, we lived thousands of years without gadgets that distract us, keep us from connecting to the people in our immediate vicinity, and stress us out. It’s important to know when to disconnect. If staying away from your phone for an entire day is not feasible or stresses you out even more, try periods of 10 minutes here and there. Take off push notifications so you’re not prompted to look at your phone when you don’t have to. Bored? Don’t scroll down your Facebook or Instagram feed; go for a short walk outdoors or read an interesting article. You’ll start to feel less like a robot and more like a person.
2. Listen to Music: There’s a reason they say music tames the savage beast. There is a lot of emotion tied to music, and if you listen to something upbeat, mellow, or just great, you are exposing yourself to those corresponding emotions. If you’re allowed to, try listening to music while you work. The time will go by faster and you will have a soothing soundtrack for the day. Another great idea is unwinding with classical music before bed or while you sleep. Nothing will make you cheer up and chill out faster than some ‘90s dance hits, positive message-filled reggae, or your favorite song from grade school. If you’re motivated to dance, even better!
3. Meditate: Meditation doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, take place in a darkened room lined with candles, or be done by a trained master. Every journey starts with one step, and this includes meditation. Start by taking deep, centered breaths and focus on your breathing. Empty your mind and relax every muscle in your body, while taking these cleansing breaths. Try this for five minutes and add on from there. You’ll find yourself releasing a lot of broken record thinking, worries about mundane things, and gaining a relaxed sense of peace.
4. Exercise: Like meditation, you don’t have to engage in exercise with an all-or-nothing mindset. Start with getting up from your desk at work for a quick stroll around the cubicles when you feel stress coming on. Another idea is using your lunch hour to walk outside and get some feel-good serotonin from the sun, given you can eat your lunch at your desk. Stretching falls into this category as well. If you’re swamped, just getting up and stretching your muscles will help you feel better.
5. Sip some Tea: No, not the gossip variety, but actual tea. Chamomile, St. John’s Wort, and lavender teas, among others, are known for the ability to help us relax. Just having a warm beverage also feels soothing, and takes more time to drink, giving us a moment to relax and focus on something cozy. Make sure to check with your doctor to make sure what you any tea you are drinking is safe for you, and won’t interact with any medicines you are currently taking.
6. Pray: Whatever your beliefs, asking a power higher than you to help ease your stress is a great reminder that we are not in control of our lives, outside of the concept of free will. There are things that are out of our hands, and that is ok. Take a moment to let go and let God. Once you realize that everything is going to be ok outside of this stressful moment, you are able to gain perspective and not get lost in the moment. If you have a specific prayer or mantra, take a moment and say it to yourself, have a conversation, or just a moment of reflection for relief.
7. Be in Nature: This might seem a little difficult when you’re spending a big chunk of your day sitting in an office chair and staring at a computer screen, but luckily, nature is never too far away. Stand by the window to get some sunlight on your face. Take a 15-minute break or lunch time to walk outside and get some fresh air. Just these little actions will refresh your mood. Remember, we as humans were outside for a long time before we started making buildings. Spending some time in nature will bring you back to your essence.
8: The Power of Pets: There is a reason cat videos are so popular. Cats are adorable, and funny, and make us happy. Studies have shown that having a fur child lowers your blood pressure, helps people with heart problems live longer, and reduces stress and depression. Pets also take the focus away from us. Their unconditional love and constant shenanigans make for laughs, relaxation and a lot of love. If you don’t have a pet, think about adopting one, or sneak in a quick funny cat video or cute puppy picture at work for a relaxing and happy moment.
9. Think Positively: You can have it all, but if your mindset isn’t positive, your life won’t be. Be happy right now, with what you have now, in the circumstances you are in now. The goal is to be consistently happy, instead of thrown off kilter whenever something doesn’t go according to plan. Think about it: there are people out there who are in worse circumstances than you and have a better outlook. How? They probably have faith, believe that their thoughts manifest into what they want, and know that the only moment you can really grasp is right now. They believe that anything stressful is fleeting, and how you react to a situation often matters more than the situation itself. If you need something to help you out, make a list of things that make you happy and do one when you’re not feeling stellar, or a list of things you are grateful for. Life is great, so live like it!
10. Smell the Roses: Scent is the sense most closely tied to memory, so what you smell definitely has the power to take you to a mellower place. Keep a fragrance that you associate with a happy moment in your life within reach when you’re feeling stressed. Aromatherapy, the holistic science based on the idea that essential oils can aid our well being, also recommends lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood oils as surefire natural remedies for a frazzled state.
11. Catch Some ZZZ’s: Sometimes to relax, we must embrace our inner child, and sometimes that child just needs a nap. More often than not, adults are constantly chasing their ZZZ’s. It makes you cranky, anxious, and basically a hot mess. A quick 20-minute nap might help you feel refreshed after hours of being awake and non-stop productive. The best time of day for this--when we usually feel the most sluggish--is siesta time, after lunch, at about 2 or 3 pm. Anything too close to bedtime will interfere with your nighttime rest. Try to keep your nap to about 20 minutes; anything longer than that might also affect your sleep at night.
What are your favorite ways to relax? Share below!