7 Ways to De-Stress and Relax

     Sometimes life can be a bit much.  Too much going on, too many things to do and not enough time.  Sometimes not even enough time to breathe.  Which coincidentally is probably why I haven't posted in a little over 2 years.  Oops, sorry about that!  

     But taking moments to breathe is important.  It's extremely important!  Otherwise we run the risk of burning ourselves out. Often times it feels like if we take the time to relax we won't have enough time to get done everything else that is on our plate.  But counter-intuitively relaxing can help you get that list of things to do checked off.  

Relaxing and finding the right kind of rest can improve your efficiency as well as your quality of life.  And here are a few simple tools to creating small moments of rest in your day.

First and foremost: There is always time for the things we deem important in our lives.  If your day is jam packed make a goal of taking just 5 minutes to devote to letting yourself breathe.  With that said, away we go:

1. Candles and Dim Lighting

"Why dim lighting lighting?" you may be asking.  Well a lot of the point of relaxation is to let your mind settle down (especially if you are trying to decompress for the night).  Dim lighting is a sign to your brain that the "day" is over and that it can start shutting down or preparing for rest.

Candles are great for relaxation and are definitely a go-to for me.  Not only do they offer a low light that can help your brain slow down which is great before bed, but a scented candle can provide the added benefit of aromatherapy reacting with your senses.  Candles also just take me back to a simpler time and put me in a different head space (often when I'm having trouble writing I'll light a candle and find it helps me get into the groove.  I employed this technique quite often during my English Composition class in college.)

My personal candle preferences are wood wick or soy candles, here are some of my favorite brands:

WoodWick Tri-Tone Cashmere Blanket 17.2-oz. Jar Candle

Basil Scented Soy Candle - Large

But what's most important is you find a scent that suits YOU!

2. Music

As we hit our other senses with sweet aromas and low lighted bliss we can't forget about the noise that we let into our head.  Listening to chill beats before bed or in the middle of a hectic day can help melt your stress away.  Personally, I usually put on 60s music or Lord of the Rings soundtracks to relax.  Lately though, I've been really into instrumentals with a bit of a twist like the one below.  

Image result for instrumental introspections vol 3
(Yes I understand that the title says introspections and the album cover says inspirations... I don't understand either.  But the music is solid.)

Image result for johnny cash essentials
Johnny's got the soulful, melancholy voice that is perfect for taking you back in time and helping you forget the stress of the day.

Image result for peaceful piano playlist
One of my friends recommended this playlist to me as her favorite playlist to listen to when she wants to relax.

3. Taking a Bath or Shower

A warm bath or shower can relax your nerves and muscles!  
If you want to go all in on your bath you can implement one of these in your pampering:

bath-fizzies | Sunrise Soap Company
Everyone knows how cool bath bombs are, but bath fizzies from Sunrise Soap are all the fun at a fraction of the price.  They are the perfect price and size for the occasional bath so you can feel like royalty without feeling like you're breaking the bank each time you want to relax.  I've personally used them a number of times and they are in a word, clutch.

It's fun to splurge sometimes though and I have Lush's Metamorphosis bath bomb on my list of things to try out one of these days.

4. No Screens

The main issue with screens is the blue light they emit.  It's one of the reasons it's important to refrain from looking at your phone or tablet right before you sleep - it will severely hinder your sleep cycle.  But that's just what Harvard studies have found.

Our eyes are so stimulated throughout the day it's good to give them a break once in a while.

5.Calming Hobby or Activity

Whether it's before bed or in the middle of the day it's great to find activities to pursue that don't strain your brain too much or that allow you to release some tension.

Activities like reading, doing puzzles, or playing music are excellent any time of day but especially before bed.  During the day you could find relaxation through creating art, crafting, gardening, or just taking in the nature around you.  There are plenty of things around you to do that won't be too engaging but are very fulfilling.

6. Journaling

Sometimes our stress is compounded by our thoughts, trying to sort everything out in our head can be a trying task.  So let them out, write whatever comes into your mind at the moment like a free thought journal.  Or write about what happened during your day.  It's a great way to ground yourself in what are the things worth remembering and putting things in perspective.  Writing is also great for improving memory, so if the idea of forgetting things stresses you out, write them down to help cement them in your thoughts.

Sometimes I'll journal in the middle of the day, especially if something is stressing me out or I need to sort out my own thoughts.  It's helped bring me clarity as well as relieved some of the stress I had built up.

7. Exercise or Meditation

Exercise produces dopamine the feel good chemical in your brain.  Not only is it good for your body but afterwards you'll feel good too.  

Meditation is great for refocusing.  To focus in on the important things and let the rest slip by.  The best form of meditation is ultimately prayer.  Prayer is so much more than a relaxation technique though.  It's a conversation with the creator.  

"He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake."
Psalm 23:2-3

The rest found in God is so much more than a physical rest, it's a spiritual rest in the assurance that God is in control.

I hope in some small way I've inspired you to take some time for yourself and focus on resting and relaxing.  

"Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it."  
Hans Selye

-XO Juls


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