Down time. Rest. Relaxation. You should try it.
Maybe for most people, rest comes easily. In my case, I’ve hit the floor running since I was old enough to and I haven’t looked back. Most of us are busy with our full time jobs that take up the daylight hours and when we aren’t at work, we’re tending to family or running errands. In addition to living a normal demanding life, I am an author, a singer-songwriter-guitarist, and an advocate. Each of these could easily be a job within itself. Because I have been so driven in my life, I am now learning how to rest when there are a million things to do. Honestly, I often tell people I’ve lived 9 lives in this life and that is exactly how I feel (If you read my bio, you’d understand). But sometimes it is not only important but crucial to have down time for ourselves. Our bodies and minds demand it.
That being said, as I try to balance my natural-born determination and gusto with fighting for a moment’s peace and quiet, try to do the same. You deserve to regroup. There are many health benefits to down time and if you don’t acquire rest, your body will force you to. I should know. After multiple family deaths, a move out of state, a new job, and many health issues, I was forced to listen to my body. Sometimes this means you will have to turn down a friend or family member and that is okay. You can’t help or spend time with others if you are neglecting yourself. Take 10 minutes a day if that is all you can spare. Even 5 minutes can make a difference. Make time for it and your body will thank you.
Here are some things I’ve tried to increase relaxation:
Essential Oils (or alternatively, scented candles).
Lavender is quite possibly the most famous for bringing calm; however, other essential oils/scents can bring calm if you are out of lavender such as: Geranium, Rose, Mandarin, Orange, Lime, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Jasemine, Neroli, Melissa, Palmarose, Petitgrain, Sandalwood, and if you are having pains from stress/ high level stress, Narcissus works wonders. If I know ahead of time that a certain day will be insane, I put one of the above essential oils inside my essential oils necklace. Yes, they do exist!
There are free mobile apps like Deep Calm (which I use daily) to help relax my mind and body.
I stretch at least twice a day: once in the morning and once before bed to prevent injuries, clear my mind, and sleep better.
Oh God knows I loooooove a good massage. If you can’t afford one, try getting a massage from a family member or friend that you trust enough to not break your back. You can even watch clips online for tips on how to give a beneficial massage.
This is a method of choice for many people. Warm water is required. Bath salts, lit candles, streaming music, wine, and bubbles are optional as is the rubber ducky. 😉
Spend Time Outdoors.
It’s proven that Vitamin D can improve moods and help us refocus on the simple rewards in life. Be mindful of what you see around you. Don’t gravitate to your phone or iPod.
Participate in an Exercise/or Instrument You Enjoy.
Endorphins are your friend (in moderation, not freak out mode). After a great work out you’ll be ready to fall asleep easily.(Also, as an added bonus, you can quote Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, “Endorphins make people happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.”) On a musical note (pun intended), it’s pretty obvious that music soothes the soul.
Once you rid yourself of turbulent events by writing, you’ll have a clear mind and be able to concentrate on relaxing. If you aren’t a journal person, try writing down a word that captures your current state such as “Exhausted” or “Stressed”, write it on a piece of paper, wad up the piece of paper, and imagine that you are tossing that troublesome situation/feeling into the trash along with the paper you wrote it on.
Practice Deep Breathing.
No, I don’t mean meditation. Just breath deeply as you do whatever it is you enjoy doing to relax. No, watching T.V. does not count. Inhale a deep breath to where you can feel a slight tingle in your lungs, hold it for a 5-10 seconds then release the breath slowly as you exhale. Unfortunately, most of us do not breathe correctly during the day. As a result, our bodies often don’t get the full amount of oxygen we need to think clearly and perform our best. When you’re stressed, your breathing can become especially shallow.
Spend Time with Your Pets.
Pets have an uncanny ability to relax us, soothe our fears/concerns, and make problems seem small. They are constant companions that accept you as you are.
Drink a Cuppa.
Fancy a cuppa? Well, maybe you should. There are many benefical properties in variations of teas. Camomile, Lemon Balm, Catnip (not the cat kind), Linden, American Passion Flower, Motherwort, Valerian, Ashwagnda, Eleutherococcus (Siberian Ginseng), Hawthorne, and Blue Valerian. There are different kinds of teas from red and black to green and white. Depending on the type of tea, there are added bonuses to having a steaming cup. For instance, green teas promote a healthy immune system, may help you lose weight, and can improve brain power. Black teas aid in healthy digestion and some even claim they help maintain a healthy heart while increasing energy and adding antioxidants to your body. Red teas supposedly promote healthy skin, bone health, and ward off allergies. White teas may help with oral health, lower diabetes effects, and contain antioxidants. Take the praise for different tea types in moderation (i.e. a tea itself will not cure cancer). When I sit down to relax with a cuppa, those in my midst know I am in Relaxation Mode and will not be disturbed. Maybe with a little training, you can teach others that when they see you in Relaxation Mode you will not take kindly to being disturbed.
Those who know me know that I am a Christian and I make no bones about it. It’s been proven by research that prayer lowers tension and stress. If you are a Christian like myself, take advantage of your relaxation time with the Lord. Giving your cares over to Him will unload a huge weight from your shoulders. God answers all who call on Him and He brings nothing but peace. Once you do this, it will help you concentrate on relaxing.
If you are like me, you may find that learning to relax actually takes practice! (Who knew?) If everyone knew how to relax, fewer people would look and feel like walking train wrecks. Be good to yourself. Be aware of your boundaries and know when to call a time out. You only have one body. Take care of it– body, mind, and soul.