Self-care does not only include exercise and eating a balanced meal. It also includes the time we create for ourselves to allow our bodies and minds some rest and relaxation. A vacation or weekend getaway is, often, the sought after activities for achieving this goal. There is no reason, however, why any of us can’t permit ourselves to fit in some “R and R” in our daily routine. The key is to do an activity that allows us to slow down and feel physically and mentally refreshed. Consider the following practices:
- Give yourself time to sit and do something that’s not mentally or physically demanding as a way of unwinding after work, such as sitting in a cozy chair, with a cup of hot herbal tea, and reflecting on your day.
- Begin reading a novel you’ve been putting off for weeks.
- Go on YouTube and play a guided-meditation video that allows you to close your eyes and follow the narrative.
- Do yoga either in a class or at home (with the help of an instructional DVD, if needed).
- Take a dance class or dance at home (with family, friends, or alone) to your favorite music.
- Park your car by the ocean, a lake, or a nearby park, near the end of the day. Recline your car seat and allow yourself to look at the sky as the sun begins to set. If the location is right, you may actually get to see the sunset. If you’re a morning person, perhaps you may want to start off the day with this practice as the sun rises.
- Make time to walk in the park, along the beach, or in your neighborhood to clear your mind. If you’re at work, perhaps you can walk around the block during your lunch break.
- Listen to your favorite music at home, in your car, at the park, or wherever it best suits you (read the HPB post on the health-promoting benefits of music).
- Do any other calming activities that you personally have found relaxing and gratifying.
I’ve always found dusk to be a relaxing time of day. There is something refreshing about watching the orange and yellow hues in the sky at sunset. The walk around the block at lunchtime is a practice I also have found mentally refreshing, enabling me to dive back into work with more momentum. And to the surprise of many people, I have found washing the dishes to be helpful in clearing my mind and being present in the moment. (Being present in the moment is a major tenet of mindfulness.)
The takeaway? Making time to rest, relax, and clear our minds by doing an activity that slows the pace of an otherwise busy day can do wonders for our physical and mental well-being. We just need to remember to allow ourselves the downtime needed to fully engage in a calming activity. And remember, a holistic approach to self-care (i.e., exercise, healthy diet, and rest and relaxation) is the way to go, as it will leave us feeling revitalized and will optimize our ability to approach day-to-day tasks with greater ease.
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From the HPB Archives: Originally published on April 9, 2018.
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