The thing about stress is that even thinking about it can be stressful. We all know that stress can lead to about a million different health conditions, exacerbate the ones we already have, and even bring on a fatal heart attack. But if you’re like many people, thinking about ways to relax just pumps up your blood pressure and makes you feel bad about not doing enough to take care of your mental, emotional and physical well being. So, what’s the solution?
August 15th is National Relaxation Day and a great time to set relaxation goals for yourself. Think of cutting back on stress the way you would about starting a new exercise program. Start small, build up, and remember that teaching yourself to relax is a process. If we could simply flip a switch to calm our minds, we’d probably put much of the medical and pharmaceutical industry out of business.
Here are some things to think about, and put into practice, on National Relaxation Day.
- Go for a Walk
Exercise is a great stress-reliever, but we don’t all have the time, motivation or ability to run every day or climb mountains. Start by going for a walk. The point is to lower your body’s stress hormones and release endorphins, which you can do by engaging in just about any kind of physical activity.
- Start a Journal
The idea here isn’t to give you one more thing to stress about. You don’t need to write in it every day. But if you take the time to write down the positive things that happen in your life, you’ll find it actually increases the impact of these events on your mood and general sense of well being and accomplishment.
- Call a Friend
It’s a proven fact that people with strong social networks find it easier to relax. Not the kind you develop online, but real, face-to-face friends. It can be a lot easier to relax when you’ve got company and distracting conversation, so share National Relaxation Day with someone you enjoy hanging out with.
- Grab a Book
Reading is the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to get your mind and body to relax. All you need is a library card and a soft place to curl up for the day. Reading a few pages at night before bed is also one of the best ways to disconnect and get yourself ready for sleep.
- Get Wet
There’s something about the feel of water on your skin that is instantly relaxing, even if doing laps in the pool is your idea of hell. Whether you take a hot bath, a cold shower, or head for the closest beach or lake, water and relaxing were made for each other.
- Get Out of the City
If you’re lucky enough to be off work on National Relaxation Day, get out of town! Taking a break from an urban environment is a great way to relax and get your head out of your everyday problems. Find a farmers’ market, do a little antique shopping or explore a place you’ve never been to before. Every town has something to be proud of and discovering what makes it special is a great way to spend a relaxing day in the country.
- Head for the Zoo
If you’ve ever spent some quality time watching animals go about their daily lives, you know they’ve really got relaxing down to an art. Zoos have come a long way since the days of small enclosures and concrete habitats, with many now forming part of an essential conservation and educational network. Find your favorite critter, take a seat, and relax.
Of course, you could always spend the day napping or binge-watching Netflix. In the long run, however, you’ll probably get more out of National Relaxation Day by engaging in something outside of your normal routine than you will in doing nothing at all. Do yourself a huge favor and get into the habit of actively relaxing. You’ll live longer and get more pleasure out of every day if you take a few moments to really breathe.