To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace. — Czech writer Milan Kundera
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. — Chinese Proverb
Why is it that many of us think that we’re too overwhelmed by our frenetic busy schedules, when we can still work hard and balance things with relaxation? Even the Bible said that the all-powerful God of the universe took a rest on the seventh day after creation.
Sit back, allow me to share 25 suggestions on how to better relax.
1. Turn off the alarm clock. Sleep earlier and turn off the alarm clock, so there’s no need to disrupt our good rest but we can wake up naturally early and at our leisure
2. Eat breakfast. Enjoy breakfast while reading the Philippine STAR. Don’t over-drink coffee first or hurriedly and unhealthily skip the all-important breakfast.
3. Listen to music. Enjoy soothing tunes. I personally like pop, classical and light rock.
4. Savor the morning sun. Go out or sit by the window for morning sun. Sunlight stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin, which improves our mood.
5. Laugh. Lighten up. Smile always. Learn to laugh at our foibles, problems, even at ourselves. Crack and share jokes. We can also go to YouTube to search for funny videos. Laughter is indeed the best medicine for stress.
6. Read. Relax with a novel, a poetry anthology, magazines and other non-serious stuff.
7. Drink fresh citrus juice. Quench our tiredness or thirst with fresh juice made of orange, lemon, calamansi or other citrus fruits, for research shows that some citrus fragrances can boost well-being emotions and ease stress by increasing levels of norepinephrine.
8. Get a massage. Either go to a spa or call for home massage occasionally. Even a foot massage is amazing for great relaxation. I suggest not going for hard massage.
9. Take care of a pet. Ideally, own an amiable breed dog like my very old but still hearty Labrador Retriever named Duchess and my new cute Golden Retriever puppy Jasmine (named by my office secretaries after actress Anne Curtis’s younger sister Jasmine Curtis).
10. Brisk walk. One effective way to relax one’s mind and body is to brisk walk for half an hour.
11. Do gardening. Dabble in gardening, even if your home has no garden. Maybe grow cacti or vines in your condo, townhouse or wherever you reside. Also, do plant trees.
12. Treat kids. Whether they’re your children, nephews, nieces or friends’ kids, it’s a different kind of fun to invite them to lunch or a movie. Talk to them or play with them too.
13. Exercise. Regular sport or exercise at least three times a week is not only good for the heart and health, it induces the feel-good hormones called endorphins and boosts our energies the rest of the day. Exercise also makes us sleep better at night. By the way, for married couples, sex is a good healthy relaxation. I think over-exercising is unhealthy.
14. Eat spicy foods! Savor Bicolano, Sichuanese or Hunanese dishes, because spicy foods reportedly induce endorphins. Moderate, not excessive, quantities of cold beer, red or white wines are ideal to drink while eating spicy foods.
15. Watch a movie. Escape from life’s realities for two hours with a romantic comedy flick, an adventure movie, or any entertaining film; no to stressful horror films if you want to relax.
16. Light snacks. Eat chocolates, fruits or other foods as long as they are not junk foods.
17. Take up a hobby. Play a musical instrument, paint, do taiqi or martial arts, visit museums and galleries, play chess or bridge, try yoga, do Sudoku or crossword puzzles.
18. Think positive. General Douglas MacArthur said: “Worry, doubt, fear and despair are the enemies which slowly bring us down to the ground and turn us to dust before we die.” The famous cartoon character Charlie Brown once said: “I’ve developed a new philosophy… I only dread one day at a time.” Don’t worry, cheer up!
19. Simplify life. We often make our lives unnecessarily stressful and complicated, when we can just simplify, say “no,” covet less, and eliminate clutter in the office or at home.
20. Learn. Study a new foreign language, learn a new skill or even trade, study history or science or literature. Learning is one way to relax our minds and bodies.
21. Write a poem. The art of poetry is not only fun, it has great therapeutic effects on our emotions, soul, our bodies. Among the best writings I have done in my life were those compressed emotions and thoughts of poems during my college years. I once told my college class all of us are poets at heart, that the lyrics of songs we love are poems.
22. Sleep. Aside from comfortable deep sleep every night, it’s quite rejuvenating to also sometimes take naps, after lunch or most specially if stuck in frustrating traffic jams.
23. Turn cellular phones to silent or laptops off. Once in a while when you’re having weekend lunch or brunch or snacking, it’s good to not endlessly be tweeting, texting, browsing the Internet or hearing constant rings or buzzes from your various gadgets.
24. Vacation. Take occasional and real breaks from our work or business to really unwind.
25. Pray. Communicating with God not only relaxes, but gives us strength, inspiration, hope. –Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star)