photo by anieto2k via flickr creative commons
it's no secret that our lives move faster than they ever have before. mostly at our own hands and by our own choice, in fact. north americans seem to love being busy. i don't know about you, but i feel important and like i'm doing something relevant when i have a million tasks to complete. but running around like a chicken without a head can only be done for so long before you hit a wall.
it doesn't help that for many of us, "relaxing" involves zoning out in front of the tv night after night. and while staring mindlessly at the tv may be a quick way to put your mind to sleep, it isn’t an effective way of calming your nerves and relaxing your body.
in the market for ways to unwind after a hectic day? here are a number of suggestions to get you started:
yeah, i know, totally counter-effective – working your body in order to relax it?! but seriously, give it a shot. i’m not suggesting a marathon gym session (hell, i advocate against the gym), but go for a short run, or do a quick 10 minute weight routine at home. the mayo clinic refers to exercise as “meditation in motion” – it relieves stress and can improve your mood.
while we’re mentioning it – meditate
focusing on taking long, slow breaths, and clearing your mind of all thoughts has to be one of my favourite ways to relax. it's also particularly effective when i feel an anxiety attack coming on, or i've been dealing with a very stressful or frustrating situation. and it's so easy to do! put yourself somewhere comfortable - whether that's lying down on the ground or your bed, sitting cross-legged, or lounging in a chair - close your eyes and slowly count to three on each inhale and exhale.
meet up with a friend
i'm a big fan of 5-minute vents with close friends. it's a quick and dirty way to get frustrations/anxieties out in the open and off your chest, which is more often than not an amazing feeling. aside from this, though, spending time with the people you love, laughing and talking over a glass of wine or a cup of tea, just feels good.
engage in a little essential oil aromatherapy
how doyou want to feel? relaxed and ready for bed? energized? would you like to ease an after-work headache? break out one of these essential oils:
peppermint - good for relieving headaches and increasing concentration
lavender - reduces stress, eases anxiety, and improves the quality of sleep
clove - relieves headaches and acts as an aphrodisiac
lemon - an anti-depressant, and an uplifting oil that will improve mental clarity after a long day
ylang ylang and chamomile - relieves muscle tension and helps with relaxation
you could pour 10 drops into a warm bath, use the oil in a diffuser, or add a little to a massage oil or a body lotion.
can you say "mood booster" and "stress reliever"? studies have found that having sex improves mood and lowers stress - and what do you know, but being less stressed also leads to having more sex. win win?
read a book
this is pretty much my go-to activity after a crazy or tiring day. escaping the real world for an hour or two (even 20 minutes when i'm short on time) does wonders for my stress level. reading will help you set aside any issues or troubles you had during the day, while you delve into exciting characters and a great plot line.
take a bath
is there anything more relaxing than a bath? make it bubbly, scent it with a little lavender, grab a bath pillow and get to soaking. if you're feeling particularly luxurious, turn the lights off, set up a candle or two, and enjoy a little glass of red wine or a cold beer. once you towel off, be sure to smooth a rich body lotion or oil onto your arms and legs!
tell me, how do you like to unwind after a long day?