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Lounging by the pool with a good book as the automatic vacuum, washing machine and dishwasher chug away inside the house. If you can really get yourself there mentally, it sounds like a “little piece of heaven”.
Most times we cannot quiet our thoughts of all that needs to be done around the home enough to really get to this place of relaxation. We are lucky to find 10 minutes of quiet time with our morning coffee to hear the birds chirping as we try to gather our thoughts and to-do list’s for the day ahead. In fact, most times the story ends like this…we return in from the poolside in an “attempt” to get into the book in between the interventions of sibling fights over whom would be using the blue pool noodle because obviously, “the green one does not float the same as the blue”; to find the automatic vacuum has been stuck on the rug next to where it originally began the entire time you were out visualizing returning in to your clean floors.
Wait! What happened to my relaxing afternoon? This has turned into more stress than sitting behind my desk at work with my Pandora station softly playing in the background. Even there I am able to tune out the office noise around me, and focus on my work as I am soothed by 80”s classics. Sometimes, even drifting off into a brief memory of a time in my teens when the song had great meaning in my life.
Now, that sounds more like relaxation!
How is it that we work all week anticipating our weekend and time “off” only to be burdened with more?
According to The Huffington Post article published in 2013 by Catherine Chen, Phd., there are four main assumptions held as to why “we” cannot relax:
The commonality in these four, has nothing to do with your actual surroundings and so much to do with your mental strength and confidence. This proves, in fact that you can relax regardless of where you are and what is going on around you.
So, your sink is full of breakfast dishes and that vacuum is stuck on your spouses’ dirty sock left on the living-room floor. Your washing machine is nearing the end of the cycle so you will need to go and transition it to the dryer at some point. BUT…not so quick, it’s the long awaited weekend and therefore, time to relax. Let’s not just attempt to orchestrate that “little piece of heaven” but implement some realistic relaxation techniques that afford true emotional down time. A full two hour uninterrupted poolside getaway may not be realistic this weekend, but several ten to fifteen minute bouts of “true relaxation” are in order.
If going on a relaxing Pure Michigan Getaway isn’t an option, here are some pointers on how to find a few minutes of “true relaxation”:
Breathing sounds simple and a thoughtless effort, however that is part of the problem. We scurry through life just breathing, usually short quick breaths, just enough to get us to the next moment and condition our bodies to be ok with this. There are numerous articles on the web on proper breathing, but the main goal here is to be aware of your breathing, as if nothing going on around you exists and all of your attention is on every detail of each breath you take while maintaining a steady rhythm. You can try the recommended 4-7-8 breathing. The numbers represent the seconds you a lot for each action: 4 second inhale through your nose, 7 second diaphragm extend and 8 second exhale through your mouth. If you repeat this set three times you will feel more relaxed.
There are several excellent guided meditations available free upon a simple online search for “guided meditation”. Most are less than 30 minutes and you could invite the entire family to join in.
3) Walk on the wild side
According to a recent Webmd article and a study done by Alan Beck, Scd (the director for the center of the Human Animal Bond at Perdue University), just the action of petting your pooch releases a relaxation hormone which lowers your blood pressure. The study revealed this works with dogs or cats and actually cuts down on levels of stress hormone.
4) Use your nose
Try out a lavender or eucalyptus scented candle or one of the now inexpensive and very common infusers with a calming scent. The sense of smell is very important as it is the sense most commonly linked with memory. If you find a fragrance that reminds you of a great childhood memory, bring it home and…relax.
5) Get creative
Grab a pencil and paper, or some old jeans you have been meaning to donate. Let your mind go and get creative. No one ever has to see what you create so whatever comes out is not up for criticism. The act of creating or drawing is similar to journaling and allows us to flush out stresses and frustrations as our mind processes thoughts while your hands are physically exerting the emotions.
6) Try a hand or foot rub
Massaging your feet and hands can be very relaxing and you are sure to hit some important pressure points to relieve tension. You have more than 60 pressure points in your feet alone. Pressure points are said to have a healing affect. Massaging your feet could be as simple as rolling a golf ball around under your feet as you sit.
Relaxing at home may not always play out the way you envision when you are planning it out in your cubicle at work, eagerly anticipating the weekend. So, if you find yourself longing for relaxation without a glimpse in sight, remember it is mind over matter.
Give yourself permission to block out all of the nagging chores and emotionally embrace a moment of relaxation!
Chen, P.C. (2013, June 02). The Real Reasons You Can’s Relax. Retrieved April 02, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-chen-phd/stress-management_b_3320477.html
Fields, L. (.d.). 6 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health. Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/6-ways-pets-improve-your-health#1