Today – August 15, 2018 – is National Relaxation Day!
Yes, that’s actually a thing. It also happens to be my anniversary, which makes sense because I have a pretty relaxing marriage. It took a long time to get to that point, but don’t all great things require work? Well, you, dear reader, also happen to be a work in progress. Yes, that’s right. You are on your way to greatness. The first step? Get out of the day-to-day stress and give yourself the gift of mental health: RELAX.
Relaxation can come in many forms. Don’t confuse the term with lying on the couch and binge watching Netflix. That’s a terrible idea and should only be reserved for times of illness. The same can be said for sitting on the couch and staring at your phone. Two hours in, you’re on your friend’s cousin’s best friend’s Facebook page going through her wedding album. This serves zero purpose. You don’t know these people. How did you even get there? It’s not relaxation—it actually might be stalking. Relaxation is time that is meant to serve YOU. It’s your favorite passing time. It makes you feel GOOD. Being a couch potato, losing hours of your life, and stalking do not make you feel good. They shouldn’t, anyway.
The benefits of taking a minute to relax and focus on yourself include better sleep, less stress, more energy, a better immune system, personal and professional productivity, and a longer life. So, take a load off, unwind, decompress, and make yourself at home as you gather your thoughts by reading mine.
What are your favorite forms of relaxing? It can be anything that brings you joy and puts you at ease. For example, my husband loves fishing and I love reading. So, we like to relax together on our boat. He fishes and I read = better marriage = more love = longer LIFE…
Other forms of relaxation include:
- A picnic in the park
- Walking along the beach
- Taking a drive in the country
- Spa day
- A movie
- Lunch with friends
- Dinner with friends
- Watching sports
- A day at the museum
- Listening to music
Here are mine:
Meditation: This is the most beneficial form of stress relief. I make time for this every morning. It’s how I start my day. Meditation is NOT the practice of clearing your mind (how does one do that, exactly?) or anything that has anything to do with the weird things you might be picturing. Meditation is the practice of focusing on and being aware of your present, rather than dwelling on the unchangeable past or indeterminable future. Try it! You can meditate anywhere. Thoughtful awareness is the key, here. Where are you? What do you hear? What do you feel? Stay in that moment and pay attention to everything going on with YOU, both mentally and physically. Is your mind drifting to that argument you had with your sister three years ago? WHY? Bring it back to your present and find out WHY you went there. This is about you. It’s a chance to breathe, connect with yourself, and find out what you really need.
Yoga: I can always tell when I’ve skipped a yoga class. Man, I’m crabby. I need yoga, and so do you. Why? The short answer is that Yoga makes you feel better. Practicing postures, breathing exercises, and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Yoga lets you tune in, chill out, shape up—all at the same time. It’s also known to improve muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina; reduce stress and tension; improve self-esteem, concentration, and creativity; lower fat; improve circulation; stimulate the immune system and create a sense of wellbeing. You don’t have to be a bendable, all knowing yogi to practice. No one begins this way, but you could always end up there! Join a gentle class and work your way up—practice, practice, PRACTICE.
Essential Oils: Depending on what I’m feeling at that moment, I love all essential oils. I use them for everything. I keep them on hand at all times. I just had a friend ask me the other day if I could make him a concoction for poison ivy. I had everything I needed to make him the perfect healing blend. The benefits of essential oils are not only limited to a physical healing; they are perfect for emotional wellbeing, too! When I need a little pick me up, when the day is getting a bit stressful, I just put some lemon or wild orange in the diffuser and breeeeeathe. If I don’t have a diffuser on hand, I simply put a few drops in my hands and breathe them in that way. At night, when I want to calm down from the long day, I do the same with lavender oil. Do your research and find out how essential oils can help you relax–even at work!
Writing: Surprise! I’m a writer. I write poetry, short fiction, women’s fiction, and romance (not the Fabio-on-the-cover kind). I’m not telling you to write. If you’re not a writer or you hate writing, don’t do it. Some people are numbers people and some people are letter people, and only a small amount are both. You’ll never know what you are if you don’t sit down and try. Tell a story; tell your story. It could be therapeutic. If not, do some math problems.
Reading a Book: You can’t be a writer without being a reader. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book. That’s for me, though. If told my husband he had to read a novel, he’d consider it torture. So, that’s the thing: If reading novels or works of fiction makes you cringe, don’t do it. That’s not relaxing. You don’t need to pick up Virginia Woolf or Herman Melville to experience the act of reading. For instance, my husband loves to get lost in the Bass Pro Shop catalog. That counts. My point is read something you love! Reading stimulates the mind, gives you knowledge, expands your vocabulary, and improves your memory, focus, and concentration.
Bath: The perfect way to unwind every day is cheaper than massage therapy. Don’t just fill the tub up with water, though. Make your bathroom the perfect place for rejuvenation, where you can detox and heal your body every night before bed. Here’s how:
Dr. Axe’s Relaxing Bath Recipe with Lavender Oil & Epsom Salt
- 2½ cups Epsom salt (anti-inflammatory and relaxing)
- ¼ cup bentonite clay (for impurities in the body/detox)
- 8-10 drops lavender (for relaxation and sleep)
- 8-10 drops frankincense (for the skin)
- 8-10 drops myrrh (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties)
- 8-10 drops bergamot (for circulation)
- 8-10 drops chamomile (for sleep)
- In a glass bowl, blend the epsom salt and bentonite clay using a non-metal spoon.
- Add the essential oils and blend well.
- Place ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid.
- To use, place 1/2–3/4 cup into a warm to hot bath. Relax in the bath for 15–20 minutes.
- Rinse using the shower.
Above all else, it’s important to take care of YOU. How can you take care of others when you’re not in optimal mental and physical health? Don’t wait for National Relaxation Day to pamper yourself. Every day should be your holiday. Take a moment to stop and focus on your own needs. Be good to yourself. LISTEN to your mind, body, and spirit, and put in the work that leads to greatness.
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