It’s a stressful world out there. No wonder we need a break. While I’m not particularly stressed most days, having stumbled upon and adopted several effective stress-busting techniques, I still find that it’s sometimes difficult to unwind and relax. Fortunately, I’ve come up with some relaxation techniques that work wonderfully for me. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
Being With My Loved One
To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than spending time with my loved one. I consider him to be my best friend, so what could be better than being together, sharing conversation, cooking, discussing every subject under the sun, planning trips, going out to dinner or for coffee or shopping, even driving on vacation with no set destination in mind. When you have this level of comfort with someone else, it’s an instant pick-me-up. This is not to say there aren’t the occasional disagreements, but we treat each other with respect and dignity.
Enjoying a Professional Massage
If you want to have all the kinks worked out after a brisk exercise or physical therapy regimen, or if you just want to lay on the massage table and let an expert masseuse go to work, there’s nothing that comes close to a professional massage to help you unwind and relax. All those tight muscles, sore from workout, sleeping in the wrong position, hunched over the computer, doing exacting work of any kind – benefit immensely from massage. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend 50 minutes, or an hour and a half if I’m on an island at a resort where longer sessions are available. Besides, who wouldn’t want to splurge on something that makes you feel so great?
Hiking in the Woods or Nearby Trails
I’m fortunate to live close to a series of mountain trails. By close, I mean a few blocks away. No need to drive to the trailhead. A quick walk get me there. I love hiking and walking in all the seasons. Being in California, there’s not snow where we live, but it does get cold. Springtime, however, is my favorite for trail adventures, though. Everything is fresh and beginning to bloom. How wonderfully restorative.
Reading a Good Book
I’ve always been a voracious reader. When I was a kid, I’d borrow seven books from the library each week. Don’t ask me why it was seven. Maybe it was all I could carry. I made it a point to learn as much as I could from those books, often reading under the covers with the aid of a flashlight until my parents reminded me to get to sleep. I love mysteries, thrillers, the occasional love story, biographies and more. Diving into a good book is a guilty little pleasure that I’ll never tire of.
Luxuriating in a Hot Bath
If you have a Jacuzzi tub or a large tub with therapeutic jets, take advantage of how relaxing a soak in this tub can be. If my back aches or I’ve got pain between my shoulder blades from being too long at the computer, or hours spent behind the wheel, nothing eases the ache or melts my stress away like luxuriating in a hot bath. I like to use lavender-scented bubble bath or essential oils, but even Epsom salts will do in a pinch.
I’ve never taken a professional photography class, although I’ve perused several books on how to take great pictures. Over the years, however, I’ve bought a number of cameras that help idiot-proof my picture-taking to the point where I can be fairly certain I’ll come out with a few respectable shots. I love scenic photos, as well as pictures of various flowers and plants. The more unusual and unique, the better. I also like taking impromptu shots of loved ones and friends. Capturing someone’s raw emotions when they’re not posing generally results in some extraordinary pictures. I can lose myself on a trail shooting photo after photo, or spend some time setting up just the right perspective and angle. At any rate, taking photographs is always relaxing to me. With digital cameras, there’s no need to go to the expense of having them printed. Digital is so much easier to immediately share with others, too.
Watching an Exciting Movie
I grew up going to the movies as a means of relaxation. My brother and I used to go to the Saturday matinees to see the double features plus cartoons. It’s all different now, when the price of a single movie approaches the cost of a meal out. Still, whether it’s at the cinema, a rental movie from a kiosk, a new release out on VOD or an old favorite on TV, I get a thrill out of watching all kinds of movies. To me, it’s exciting, entertaining, and allows me to put aside any problems or worries for an hour or so.
Getting Creative in the Garden
All my life I’ve loved to work in the garden. Actually, work isn’t the appropriate word. It’s more a labor of love. I’ve pored through gardening books looking for color schemes and layouts I think might look good in the various yards I’ve been privileged to own (or rent). No matter how small the area, I can always find a way to beautify it through gardening. Not only that, but I love cutting flowers to create tabletop centerpieces. The fragrance in the house reminds me that this is the result of my creativity in the garden. It’s extraordinarily relaxing – although not the weeding part.
Practicing Culinary Skills
Thinking about cooking reminds me of the time when I was a young girl and I found a cookbook with 101 recipes for chicken in my mother’s kitchen credenza. She worked a lot and didn’t have time to spend a lot of time making dinner. Sometimes, my dad was the chef (he really had been a chef in his 20s), while more often it fell to me to whip up a meal. You guessed it. I made excellent use of those 101 chicken recipes. To this day, I love a good chicken dinner. But I also love following a recipe and getting good enough at practicing it that I can add some creative touches to make it unique. The family loves my skills in the kitchen as well. Besides, when you’re cooking, you must pay attention. Talk about being present. To me, it’s a form of mindfulness meditation.
Getting My Hair Done
Some might consider this just a girl thing, but when it comes to letting my hair down (literally) and having my hair stylist do a thorough wash, condition, blow-dry and style, there’s nothing like this kind of instant tension-reliever. It helps that she does a deep scalp massage during the wash and rinse. When her expert fingers exert pressure, I can feel the tension melt away. Granted, I can’t afford to get my hair done every week, but that means it’s even more of a treat on the occasions when I do. My partner likes when I cut his hair, probably for the same reason. I know what feels good on my head and neck, so I give him that gift as well.
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