Picture the scene – Me, relaxing on the beach in Tulum, Mexico. The sun is warming my skin, and a slight breeze is lightly dusting the sand across my toes. I’m mesmerized by the waves forming in the distance, growing bigger while creating mounds of puffy white foam along its edges. The waves tumble onto the beach with rhythmic splashes. I honor every few waves with a sip of my fruity cocktail. The shadows from the palm trees cast distinctive shadows across the sand giving little slivers of shade across my face. While I resist the urge to doze off, I realize that I don’t know if what I am feeling is the state of relaxation, or is this exhaustion?
That is the point in my life when I decided that a holiday wasn’t going to be the only time I would relax. I committed to unwind in my daily life so that I could enjoy my vacation without wanting to sleep the whole time. It took time to get there, and eventually, I did…
A few of my tips on how to relax
- Take a walk in nature. I’m lucky enough to have a large natural park practically in my back yard that I walk to and wander throughout for hours. When something is weighing on me, like a big decision, or if I’m feeling stuck about something, I will spend more time roaming the trails than usual. *Bonus* – a calm, relaxed state helps bring clarity to most situations.
- Find a hobby. Full disclosure here! If you had asked me what my hobby was two years ago, I would have told you some made-up stories (a.k.a. lie), about travel and decorating my house. Those aren’t hobbies. Those were deceptions I told myself and others to make myself feel better about not making time to do something other than work, travel, and spend lots of money on making the house look Insta-perfect. For the record, I haven’t given up on the Insta-perfect home thing, and that’s because I do enjoy decorating. I also love to travel, but it’s not as a means to escape the reality of the unfulfilled life I was living. Travel now is so much more exciting because of my new hobby in photography. I don’t even have to travel to enjoy this hobby. When I can grab my camera or my phone and spend some time in my yard snapping photos of bees and butterflies or the grandkids or the dogs, I find myself immediately in a picture-perfect scenario of how to be relaxed. I have a lot of creative hobbies now that I didn’t have before, and photography is the one that I can take with me anywhere I go.
- Journaling. Whoa, Nelly! Starting in 7th grade, I realized journaling is how I relaxed. I got a lot of my frustrations out in a constructive way through writing in my journals. If you knew me back in junior high or high school, you might be thinking that I should have written in my journal more often. I’m sitting here thinking that some of the kids I knew back then should have given it a try. The fun part is that I’ve kept all of my journals over the years – all of them! They are put away in a safe place. You know they are just begging to be made into a book. They will. Someday. So, back to journaling. Go out and find yourself a notebook and a pen, yes, paper and a pen – go old-school – and just start writing whatever comes to you. Whatever happens to pop into your head. Then the next thing. And the next thing. There is no right, wrong, good, or bad here. This is the space for your thoughts, your doodles, your dreams, your lists, your rants, your love letters to yourself, your wants, your needs, your wishes… just be in the moment and enjoy. Relax. One tip here – if you do this a few times and you find that you have A LOT to write about, set a time limit going forward. More importantly, do this when you can relax and not be worried about time restraints.
- Bubble Bath. This isn’t your average end of the day, run of the mill, ho-hum bubble bath. I’m referring to the extra foamy, candlelight with scented candles, no electronics, a bath pillow, soft music, and a towel in the bathtub with you kind of unwinding. I lost you with the towel, didn’t I? Here’s my tip… It might just be me, but when I take a bath, even in my jacuzzi garden bathtub, my chest and collarbone don’t get fully submerged in the water, and that part gets cold. I solve that by placing a warm wet hand towel over that area. When it starts to cool off, I slide down into the hot water to warm it up again, and I slide back up. I might be the only one in the world with this ‘situation,’ but I kind of think of it like a weighted blanket for the bathtub – queue the Shark Tank idea. Try it and let me know your thoughts on it.
- Share Your Time With Friends. Be it coffee, lunch, a walk, an arts and crafts class, or even an extended phone call, share your time with friends. A significant thing I discovered is that the quality of my friendships is in direct relation to my overall well-being. I made a choice to release some relationships because the association wasn’t fulfilling or uplifting me. I recognized that when a few people’s names popped up on my caller ID, I cringed, and an internal struggle began as to whether I was going to take the call. That’s not how I choose to be in a friendship. As I began to change myself, the people around me changed, and the quality of my relationships improved. Now, lunch with a girlfriend can turn into happy hour, and a quick chat on the phone can become a marathon call where we fundamentally solve all of the world’s problems together. Each of which makes me feel calm, at peace… relaxed.
I would love for you to give these a try, and I’d love to hear how you relax. I’m always open to trying new things, so please share!