Six Ways to Chill Out on National Relaxation Day

Relaxing in a hammock

Take time to chill out and relax. Your heart deserves it. (Photo courtesy Canva)

If you’re like us, you like to get things done. Whether we’re managing people on the job site, delegating tasks, streamlining processes, and plowing through our email inbox or at home cleaning the house, organizing the closets, bathing the dog and ironing the clothes, we all have those check lists of chores we feel compelled to accomplish before we fall in bed utterly exhausted. And while there is satisfaction to be gained from those accomplishments, finding time to relax, unwind, and chill out is actually still quite productive.

According to Health Magazine, experts say that a little rest and relaxation goes a long way to keeping us happy and healthy. It lowers our risk for obesity, boosts our immunity toward colds, wards off heart disease, and fights depression. Best of all, when we allow ourselves to calm down and actually breathe, we actually become more clear headed and focused, and therefore more productive as a result. Perhaps you’re one of those driven folks though who is always a person on a mission and rarely, if ever, have allowed yourself to relax. So how do you do it? Here are some tips to guide you on your way to mindful living and better self care.

  1. Relax the body. Although this may sound a little counter intuitive, experts at the University of Michigan recommend practicing progressive muscle relaxation. To do this, focus on each of your muscle groups one at a time, tensing and relaxing each one. Not only will this help reduce your anxiety and muscle tension, but it will also help you float off to dreamland that much faster and get a better night’s sleep.
  2. Reach out to others. When you’re stressed to the breaking point, don’t isolate yourself. Instead, connect with your social network, and I don’t mean through social networking sites. Jeanette Moninger at WebMD says it is important to connect face to face, or at the very least by conversing on the phone. When we have someone to share our frustrations with, that friend or confidant can help us look at the situation with fresh eyes and it will maintain your connection to that person in the process.
  3. Eat and drink stress-reducing foods. I think plenty of us automatically reach for a bit of chocolate when we’re stressed. But there’s a reason for that. According to Shana Lebowitz at Greatist.com, just one square of chocolate (1.4 ounces) can calm our nerves, and dark chocolate is known to regulate our stress hormone called cortisol and stabilize our metabolism. Other foods that improve our wellness include honey (it reduces inflammation in the brain which fights depression and anxiety), mango (it contains linalool which helps lower stress levels), and green tea (which contains L-Theanine, a chemical that relieves anger).
  4. Laugh out loud. Hang out with that wacky friend who makes you crack up like no one else. The National Sleep Foundation says that when we laugh, it actually triggers our stress response, but then simmers it down, which leaves us feeling great and much more relaxed. If one of your friends isn’t available, look to one of your favorite comics to help, whether it’s that old bit from programs like The Carol Burnett Show and I Love Lucy or the latest Netflix special with Gabriel Iglesias or John Mulaney.
  5. Connect to nature. When you’re at your boiling point, step outside. Go for a walk or sit in the park. Listen to the birds and feel the wind in your face. And if you can’t escape the great indoors or don’t live somewhere with access to nature, Erica Cirino at Healthline says that simply looking at nature photographs for about five minutes is enough to reduce your stress level. Listening to nature sounds like waves crashing against the shore or rain falling on a lake can also alleviate your stress.
  6. Create a bedtime ritual. When we create a ritual that helps us relax, it “brings us renewed balance, empowerment, energy and comfort,” writes Jennifer Louden in her book, The Woman’s Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your LifeBy doing this, says Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. at PsychCentral.com, we create a specific time to focusing on ourselves and our needs. For Heather, this includes rubbing a lavender salve under her nose, reading, and turning on her aromatherapy diffuser and filling the bedroom with a relaxing scent. And if all else fails, open up that bottle of wine!

 

 

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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