Stop the world, I want to get off! That’s how many of us feel and it’s a sign that we’re stressed. A little bit of stress can keep us on the top of our game, but a lot of stress is detrimental to both our health and the way we show up in the world. Here are a few suggestions for relaxing that may help you to live a more fulfilling life.
Don’t worry if at first the idea of slowing down and relaxing frightens you. It’s possible you’ve become addicted to the fast-paced frenzy called life. Give yourself time and space to practice these techniques and see if the way you feel about life changes. (Note: all these activities do not require that your cell phone be on. Please, turn it off.)
1. Be in nature. Taking a walk where there is grass, trees, and especially water is considered to be one of the most relaxing activities for an individual suffering from stress.
2. Look at fire. It might be as simple as lighting a candle, or starting a small fire in a fireplace, woodstove, or an outdoor chimnea. There is something about watching flickering flames that is inherently relaxing. The longer we stare into the flames the better we feel because our heart rate slows, our blood pressure goes down, and even our respiration rate goes down.
3. Read poetry. The lyrical language of poetry is designed to be read out loud. If you have someone who is willing to listen, then by all means, do this with a partner. Otherwise, read out loud to yourself. Slow down your pace and really try to hear what the poet intended. Savor the language. Explore the symbols and imagery. Note how you respond to the various poems.
4. Write with pen or pencil and paper. You can write a letter to a loved one or yourself. Or you can journal about your day, your feelings, your goals, dreams, and aspirations. Journaling is one of the most relaxing practices because it actually engages our brain and by writing down our problems and concerns we’ve tricked our brain into thinking that because the words have been recorded on paper, it no longer needs to keep them at the top of the mind. When you find yourself waking during the night with worries or concerns, try getting up and journaling by candlelight. Get everything that is troubling you on the page. When you return to bed, many times you will be able to fall asleep without any further disruption of sleep.
5. Pet an animal. Studies have proved that merely petting an animal reduces blood pressure. But beyond that, having a living, breathing being beside us who isn’t arguing, or challenging, or demanding anything from us but love is one of the most relaxing activities you can do.