Happy National Relaxation Day (Aug 15)! Having some trouble participating? No worries, you aren’t alone. On average, Americans are working more and playing less than ever before. And that’s too bad, because research shows even ten minutes of calm, quiet contemplation or meditation a day can boost the immune system and refresh our cognitive power.
So what can you do if you’re finding it difficult to carve out some relaxation time? Implement one, some, or all of these tips, and you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time
Repetition is relaxing. Positivity is rewarding. So why not combine the two by using mantras? Mantras are short statements that are positive, affirming, and total confidence boosters – and they can be anything from “I will manifest my will in all that I do” to “I look rocking in this top”. Each morning when you wake up, repeat your mantra to yourself. Make it the first thing you say aloud. The repetition makes it almost like a meditation, which has been shown to actually alter brain activity. It’s just as good as a morning coffee! (Well, almost.) You can repeat your mantra whenever you need a boost throughout the day.
Whether you work in an office, stay home with the kids, are still in school, or something in between, chances are you have lunch every day. (If you don’t, then we have to be having a whole different conversation, friends.) Why not take your lunch to go? Sandwiches, protein drinks, baggies of pre-packaged snacks – anything bite sized and grab-able is the perfect companion to a short walk. So take your lunch outside and find some green area to stroll through. Not enough space for a walk? Have a mini-picnic. Spending your lunch outside near nature will help to ground you, offering a few moments of solitary relaxation while you nourish your body and your soul.
Hit The Showers
The shower is my favorite place to unwind. The warmth rushing over you relaxes your muscles and the sound of the running water calms a busy mind. There’s a reason successful people claim their best ideas came to them in the shower! I prefer to shower at night, to rinse off (both physically and energetically!) and unwind from a hectic day, but you can make use of a morning shower too by using the opportunity to meditate on your morning mantra. Even just an extra two minutes at the end of your shower, clearing your mind under the hot running water, will do wonders.
Nothing ruins a positive day faster than road rage. But it doesn’t have to be so! Instead of zoning out during your commute, try being hyper-aware. Notice the trees and wildflowers that line the roads. Be conscious about the feel of the car beneath you and the warmth of the sun on your skin through the glass. By paying extra attention to your surroundings, you may notice beautiful things along your commute that you never noticed before – and you’ll be traveling safer, too. If someone else is driving unsafe, don’t react in anger. We don’t know what’s happening in other peoples’ lives. Maybe the guy who cut you off is in a legitimate rush to get to an emergency – or perhaps he’s having a bad day and cutting you off vindicated his bad feelings. Regardless of his reasons, his actions don’t need to affect you. Just remember to breathe!
Say Yes To Yourself
Do you have a favorite relaxing activity that you never have time to do? This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but make the time! I mean it; sit down with a pencil and paper and list out all the activities you do in a typical day, and how long you do each one for. Be honest, too. No one needs to see this list. Do you spend an extra five minutes in the morning to perfect your beauty routine? Do you watch an insane amount of tv? Do you stop on the way to work to pick up the latest celebrity magazine? Write it down!
Now look at your list. Is there anything you can shorten, combine, or cut out entirely? Are there enjoyable activities in your day that you can make more mindful (like driving, from number four)? Perhaps you can shorten the amount of television you watch, or cut it entirely. Use that time to meditate, craft, read – whatever you find relaxing. (Unless you find watching tv relaxing; then keep it going!) Take an extra moment to savor that first sip of morning coffee. Study your list, make small alterations, use some of my tips, but make sure you get some YOU time!
We may lead busy, stressful lives, but it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Making time each day to relax, unwind, and be present in the moment will have lasting health benefits with minimal effort.