2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on ways to relax (don’t miss the comments; lots of great ones!), but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion on the best ways to relax after a stressful day.
Today’s reader mail is asking for an open thread discussing relaxation techniques…
It would be fun to see an open thread discussing what readers do to relax/pamper themselves. I just bought the Discovery Channel “Planet Earth” series, for example, because it was on sale and helps me calm down before going to sleep.
Excellent topic! (And perhaps useful as it is also just in time for Mother’s Day, for those of you who have difficult-to-buy-for mothers.) (Pictured: Day 94, HNT Massage, originally uploaded to Flickr by lintmachine.)
For my own $.02:
- I find that exercise is absolutely essential to helping me unwind, even though I work out in the mornings. It just seems like if I go several days without exercising, I can’t unwind at all.
- I love sitting with the hubs and talking about our days while listening to chill music and enjoying some wine. (I have a “Smart Playlist” in my iTunes library, and tag dinner-party-appropriate songs with the “genre” dinner.”)
- Also, shopping — physically, in stores — relaxes me. I think it has to do with it being a tactile experience, and not a terribly intellectual one: I like to walk around and touch the clothes, play with color combinations in my mind, and so forth. Buying isn’t necessary!
- I love a good massage, also, if we’re talking serious pampering, or — if budget or circumstances allow, a trip to a spa with a girlfriend for a series of spa treatments. (I’ve only done that twice, though — once to help a friend celebrate her 30th birthday in Sedona, and once for a semi-bachelorette party at Canyon Ranch in Las Vegas.)
Reading before bed can be helpful, but I find it depends heavily on what I read — anything that has to do with an agenda on my “to do” list makes me anxious, and anything that’s too “brain candy” like makes me want to stay awake and read it.
I’d love to learn more about meditation (sometimes I say the rosary, which is supposedly the Catholic form of meditation). At various points in my life I’ve also tried to get into habits like drinking Celestial Seasoning’s “Sleepytime Tea” before bedtime, or putting L’Occitane’s lavendar hand lotion on my hands before bedtime, just to give myself a Pavlovian cue that “it’s time to relax and go to sleep.” Finally — I don’t have a television in my bedroom, but if I’m stressed enough I will rewatch my favorite movie on my laptop or whatever.
2020 Update: Coloring books for adults are a great way to relax after a stressful day! These are some of our favorites (affiliate links):
Readers, what do you do to relax? How often do you have problems relaxing?