21 of the Best Ways to Relax
As a young girl one of the best ways to relax for me was to ride full speed on a big, beautiful horse named LuJack, with the hot wind of the Arizona desert blowing my hair back, as my eyes drank in the beauty of the red buttes and the dry sandy washes.
I could feel the stresses and tensions melt away as I became one with the surrounding landscape. I also loved climbing to the top of rocky mesas and sitting cross-legged just watching dirt devils twist playfully across the red-washed terrain.
Yes, that was a glorious time. As time went on I moved away from Arizona and from my friendwho owned LuJack. I needed to create a new way to relax.
When I had my first baby I enrolled in a Lamaze class to learn the best ways to relax while havinga baby. The class focused mainly on breathing and concentration. Picking a focal point and staring at it was easy to do as I visualized the big powerful horse and the red buttes of my youth.
Later, as I had several little children I found that the things I did, quickly got undone. Adding to
the pressure was the fact that my husband had a job that took him away from home for a week at a time. I needed to find some of the best ways to relax with my children.
When milk was spilled on my clean waxed floor, I learned to ask myself, "What does this have to do
with the rest of eternity?" I then had to admit to myself that I would forget all about it in a few hours - and my violent reaction would serve only to drive a wedge between my child and myself.
Instead, I taught myself to get the camera and take a picture of that sorrowful little face in front
of the puddle of milk. Years later it became priceless.
These experiences in finding the best ways to relax from my early life have influenced the way I have felt and reacted
to the many varied situations that have crossed through the journey of my life. They have influenced the ways that I deal with stress and depression.
What Is One of YOUR Best Ways to Relax?
Think of the last time that you were totally relaxed and felt peaceful with the world. Where were you? What were you doing?
A few years ago my husband and I visited one of our sons in Maui, Hawaii. He had arranged for us to stay in the most beautiful and romantic cottage on the beach.
We were greeted with beautiful, exotic flower arrangements and baskets of the most exquisite fruits. He also left us some
ginger-lemon herbal tea for extra relaxation.
We were gifted with our own private space, but also with direction and purpose all day long as we were escorted from attraction to attraction.
We enjoyed waterfalls that only the locals know about, ate at little corner cafes with the most delicious food, had picnics on the mountain side, and were nearly always 100% stress free.
After a few days I began to notice that my husband was smiling more, and laughing alot. The stress from the work grind had really been weighing down on him. By the time the vacation was
over he was back to his normal self.
(I'm sure he was thinking the same thing about me.)
Well, obviously, we can't spend every day riding a steed across the desert, or basking in the lap of luxury on a Hawaiian beach, so what can we do? What are the normal, everyday,
best ways to relax?
I've polled a lot of people, and here are some of the results of what they think are the best ways to relax, in no particular order.
- Analyze. Teach yourself to step back and see the "big picture." Ask yourself what this has to do with
the rest of eternity. Is it helping, or destroying, relationships?
- Bath. Take a bath. Soaking in a warm bath with herbs and epsom salts, scented oils and candles is one of the very best ways to relax. It doesn't happen nearly often enough.
The warm water is a great way to unwind while helping your body detox. It dilates your blood vessels, aids blood circulation, and draws contaminants out through your pores. The aroma of herbs or oils stimulate your well-being and it just plain feels good.
- Breath Deep. Having learned breathing techniques in my LaMaze class, there is probably not another thing that has helped me relax more when I am in the dentist's chair, someone is yelling at me, or I get cut off in traffic, than breathing deep and steadily and focusing on something else.
- Change if you need to. You don't always have to be right. Ask yourself if it is really that important. Dr. Wayne Dyer said, "When you have a choice between being right or being kind, you're a lot better off being kind."
- Distractions. Do something different to get out of your rut. If you sit at a desk all day,
something different can be going home and building a dog house or playing a game of basketball.
It doesn't have to be quiet. But if you work at the factory, coming home and sitting in front
of the computer might be relaxing.
- Do Nothing. Sometimes just vegging is one of the best ways to relax. Curl up in a blanket with a cup of cocoa and watch movies, or build a fire in your fireplace and watch the wood burn, or watch the grass grow.
- Exercise. Muscle tention is a huge by-product of chronic stress. We have already talked about the many benefits of exercise. So many studies have shown that nothing works better for working off our stress. Remember, no matter what your problem is - exercise is part of the answer. It my seem odd that exercise could be relaxing, but truly, it is one of the best ways to relax.
- Go for a Walk. Walking can be a peaceful and relaxing form of exercise. Couple that with
fresh air and a friendly wave at the neighbors, walking works off stress. Take time to smell a flower.
- Focus on the beauty in everything. I am reminded of a time when I was in an extremely stressful situation with the people I was working with. We took a full day hike and climbed Mt. Timpanogas in Utah - a strenuous eight mile hike - straight up.
As we climbed I began to be aware of the beautiful waterfalls that cascaded past me over and over again as I
navigated the sometimes precarious switchback trail. Soon I stopped. I drank in the beauty of the scene in front of me as I allowed the fingers of healing to massage my troubled mind. I felt an amazing peace.
- Food. Make Healthy Food Choices. Eat less refined sugar, drink less coffee, eat more fruits,
vegetables and whole grains. Incorporate herbs into your eating habits.
It is interesting to think that the food we eat can be one of the best ways to relax. Be sure to drink plenty of water - it not only hydrates your body, but it nourishes your brain.
- Garden. There is a great satisfaction in preparing the earth, smelling the rich earthy aroma and planting a seed.
Watching something grow from seemingly nothing, and becoming
a large and beautiful plant, perhaps giving of its bounty for your enjoyment. Gardening clears our
minds and helps us stay "grounded."
- Guilt. Get rid of it. If you are doing something that makes you feel guilty - stop. The spiderweb
of guilt will bind you tighter and tighter. There is no way to truly relax until you can be
- Hobbies. Find a hobby that you really enjoy. Paint, get involved in photography, put together a jigsaw puzzle, knit, dance, or whatever you love to do.
It has been fun learning the birds in our area and discovering that bird watching is another one of the best ways to relax. The distraction works marvelously to relieve stress.
- Massage. The use of massage, along with herbs, began before recorded history. It soothes the
body and mind, having not only physical benefits but psychological benefits as well.
Have a massage by a professional masseuse. If you don't have time or money, have
your spouse or a friend give you a massage, and in the very least - give yourself one.
- Prioritize. Make a list, putting the most important things first. Do the things you realistically
can, knowing that if there are some left you can do them the next day.
- Quiet time. Find a quiet place where you can sit and meditate. Studies have shown that regular
meditation can reduce your cortisol levels (high levels indicate a lot of stress), it can also
lower your blood pressure and reduce chronic pain!
- Read Something. Will Durant said, "A book is a friend that will do what no friend does - be silent
when we wish to think." Reading can whisk us away into another place, another world. It can help us relax by leaving our cares behind us for a while.
- Service. Service is more than something we do at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Serving others
actually improves our mental, as well as physical selves, by taking us out of ourself.
It helps us give. Giving instead of taking brings us an unexpected amount of joy.
- Sleep or take a nap. When we sleep it gives our bodies time to turn their energy inward.
The energy that we use to perform our everyday tasks, such as eating and digesting, talking, walking or exercising,
can then be used for repairing damaged tissues and cells, recharging our immune system and giving
our overworked minds a chance to relax and reboot.
- Write. Write a thank you note to someone or send a note to a friend. Start a journal and
record your journey. I have heard that if you write about your stressful issues or
traumatic experiences it can help improve your immune system.
In my own experience, however, I have found that if I look for something good that happened that day, or try to write
something uplifting, even if it is after I have put down my stressful issues, it helps me relax more and walk away with a more optimistic attitude.
- Yoga. Yoga works by teaching you to stay alert to your body and to coordinate your movements
and your breathing. While doing so it creates strong antidepressant effects and among
many things, it eliminates stress.
Okay. These are some of the best ways to relax, but there are many more. MANY more. I wanted to add Laughter as a way to relax, but then there would have been 22. I need to stop. But remember, the best ways to relax for one person may not be the best ways for another person.
In the 5th Century BC, Herodotus already understood all this. He said:
"If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation,he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it." Herodotus (484 BC - 430 BC), The Histories of Herodotus
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