Dating, work, family, love, and money: all common stressors. Having written about dealing with anxiety, it may seem odd that I’m writing about how to relax, but it’s probably because I have so much experience being stressed out that I know how to best calm the eff down. The trick is REMEMBERING to do this. I’m hoping that some of my tips can inspire others, and you can share your tips, and we’re all more relaxed than Roger Sterling at a pool party.
– Light a candle. I know, how silly does this sound? “Thanks, Almie, do you want me to play George Michael’s ‘Carless Whisper’ as I do this?” No, you don’t need to. Something about lighting a candle triggers something in me that signals my brain to settle down. I turn off all the lights, light the candle, look into the flame for a few moments, and I feel better.
– Actually stop whatever it is you’re doing, inhale deeply and strongly, and exhale the same way. I know, I know, another well-worn piece of relaxation advice, but I’m sharing it because it works. Sometimes when I’m working for hours on end, fingers jumping around my keyboard, keeping an eye on the clock trying to meet all deadlines, I suddenly feel like I’m holding my breath. I say to myself, “Whoa, slow down”, stop everything, and breathe. The brief change in pace really helps.
– This one is debatable, as some people see no problem with this method — even welcome it — whereas others think it’s a bad idea. My feeling is that if you can loosen up and relax after a drink or late ’60s Mad Men‘s choice of drug, pot, I think you should. Don’t break the law or anything. Not openly, at least. Don’t use it as a crutch, either. If a glass of wine or a hit of marijuana is what settles you down and then gets you back on track and improves your mood and focus, then do it. If it makes you worse, don’t do it.
– Talk to a friend. A quick text or Gchat check-in with a buddy can provide a much-needed outside perspective. What you think is a huge deal may not be a huge deal at all. And talking to a friend can lift your mood. Please note: do not use your friend to whine and complain endlessly about your problems or your life. You don’t want to bum them out.
– Music. Your favorite music and/or your most soothing songs. Make a playlist and keep it on hand for when you need to slow down and/or feel better.
– Set a timer for anywhere from 10 — 60 minutes for a designated break. (I think 10 should be the minimum. 5 is too short to turn off your brain from work mode to relaxation mode.) Depending on your schedule and where you work, a huge chunk of time may not be an option for you. But do what you can. During that time you are NOT to do anything relating to work or on your to-do list. Do something you want to do. Browse wedding blogs, get coffee, call your mom, Pinterest your fingers off — whatever makes you happy. Go ahead and waste time with no regrets. After your time is up, you can freely devote the rest of your day to whatever it is you really need to do, and you’ll do it more relaxed and with renewed passion.
What are some of your tips for relaxing?
Photo by Peter Stackpole for LIFE.
Almie Rose is a writer from Los Angeles. She has a blog, Apocalypstick. In addition to Dating & Hookup she also writes for Hello Giggles, The Frisky, Thought Catalog, and Genlux Magazine. Her book, I Forgot To Be Famous, is out now. You can follow her on twitter @apocalypstick. Her favorite pastime is eating and drinking and sleeping and then eating again.
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