Ten tips to help you relax and enjoy life
When times were easier
We all look back to the times when we were kids and life was easier. 'Remember when' phrases come and go with little to help with our everyday lives. We all struggle. Juggling work, family, friends, and relaxation time can be difficult and tricky. I have learned to take a quick moment for me to make my day run smoother and my relaxation level climb to the roof. These ten tips will help you do the same.
Let's begin at the beginning--a very good start I think
Wake up--what wakes you up in the morning? The alarm, the kids, the animals or all of the above (or none of the above)? Once you realize that you are hopelessly awake, try this trick to start your day off right. First close your eyes again. Stretch all of your muscles, beginning with your top and ending with your toes. Now open your eyes and begin your day. You will feel revived and fresh for the trials and tribulations of the day. Stretching allows the blood to flow through your muscles before you rise giving them a quick 'jolt' of energy before you need to use them. Perfect for getting the day started.
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Sleep-do you get enough?
At night there are so many factors that can keep us awake. These factors don't just affect how long it takes us to get to sleep, they also affect the following day(s). Try this trick to help you sleep better, longer, and deeper. Work a 'routine' that tells your body it is time for bed. By routine, I mean the same thing every night.
Here's the routine I follow. First, take a deep breath, grab your PJ's and close yourself in the bathroom (alone). Then put lotion all over you (ladies take off the make-up if you have any before hand). You can put lotion on your back by using a hand towel. (Your back will thank you.) I use baby lotion because it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave me sticky. But you can use a lavender lotion (which is calming) or whatever lotion you choose. Men-don't skip this step because your body needs moisture and you need to calm down as well. Now dress in your PJ's and brush your teeth. Next-grab a magazine or book (or whatever else you wish), sit on your bed with feet under the covers and let yourself relax. In my case, I cuddle and play with my kitties until the fur gets in my nose. Then I curl up like the kitties do and sleep away.
By using a routine before bed, you are telling your body that it is time for bed. Your body will respond by releasing melatonin into your system which will help you sleep. Try not to change your regular routine too much. Also, try not to skip a step. Your body needs the time to 'close' all the mental files from the day so you can turn off your mind and sleep. A good night's sleep will help you to wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Just a quick note: it generally takes twenty-one days of repetition to make a habit stick.
Still couldn't sleep?
If, for some reason, you still couldn't sleep and your day starts early, try this trick. It only takes a moment but the results are miraculous (well kind of). Close your eyes and imagine yourself sleeping in a large luxurious bed with plenty of covers, in a paradise of scents, and with no responsibilities. Hold this image in your head for a minute or two. Savor the moment as you would a favorite food. Now take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Imagine your sleepiness going out with your breath. You will, believe it or not, feel well rested. If that doesn't work, try grabbing a quick power nap. Why do you think cats sleep so much; it relieves the pressure of being a fat, sassy, demanding feline (at least I think that is why mine sleep so much). But power naps during the day will give your body the rest it needs while still allowing you to focus when needed. Lunch time at work or children's nap time at home are great times to take a power nap.
Does frustration or anger make you want to scream?
Do it! Or yell into a pillow or your coat. Hit something soft like a pillow. At work you can step outside and scream. Or pace for a few moments while you gather your wits. I like to pace (inside or out) while thinking of solutions that I might be able to use to make things better for me. Taking the moment to get yourself together will help you calm down. Then, once calm, you can deal with the situation with well thought out words and no temper. Whether it is the kids that have made you angry or your boss (or a fellow driver, co-worker, friend etc.), this step will work. Why? Because you are releasing all of those pent up feelings rather than bottling them up until they explode like a volcano.
Angry? Let it out!
Movie time, are you feeling left out?
Everyone wants to watch a movie while they digest your perfect meal. Trouble is--you have to do the dishes before the food becomes cement on your pots and plates. News flash: they ate too! Have them help with the dishes so everyone can enjoy the movie. Better still--have them help with the cooking as well.
Having everyone involved in the cooking and the cleanup means no one is over-burdened and everyone gets to enjoy the activities after dinner. I found that I could help with homework, watch my favorite show and/or work on my crafts without feeling left out in the cold. And the dishes got done much faster.
At what age do you think children stop making messes when they play?
Messy, messy, messy
You spent all morning cleaning up the kitchen and your kids just came home and are wrecking it! Frustrating is an understatement. However yelling, arguing, fighting and generally ordering them out of the room only makes tempers flare and another mess. Instead, try this approach. Spread an old sheet or towel down on the floor and have them make their messes there. Then join the fun! Why not? You need a break now and then. What better way to relax and relieve the stress than playing with your kids. When everyone is done having fun, have them help you clean up. No matter how old they are, cleaning can be half the fun. Even teenagers like making messes some times.
I would give my kids paper lunch bags in which they could discard their trash as they worked on crafts. Another great idea was giving them a bag to decorate themselves. I would decorate one for me while they decorated theirs with crayons, stickers, markers and whatever else we had. Then we would line them up on the window sill for display purposes. As the seasons changed, so did the bag decor. Great way to relax and have fun with your kids. Plus the cleanup is a breeze. Just roll up the sheet and shake in the garbage. I actually keep an old sheet tucked away just for that purpose. My kids loved it and now so do my Grand kids!
Having holiday decoration nightmares?
My kids would drive me crazy while I was trying to clean for a holiday get together or decorate for the holidays. They were under-foot. They fought with each other. They whined about anything to get my attention. They picked up things with which children should never play. They generally made me crazy!
Solution to add relaxation to your holiday: let them help. It may not be the best job ever but the kids can proudly say they helped. This goes for cleaning, decorating and taking the decorations down. Give the little ones small jobs like dusting (for cleaning purposes) or handling the plastic ornaments (for the decorating purposes). I found that when I included my kids in the activity, not only did they have fun but my stress levels hit the basement floor (or would have if I had owned a basement). The key word for this activity is 'fun'. Make the job a game and prepare to eat their dust (so to speak).
Cooking and baking woes?
I have been there. With three kids running around it was hard to keep the peace and cook or bake. I moved my little ones into a corner of the kitchen. I could see them as they busily played and made a mess (on the ever present mess sheet). When they got a little older (three or so) I would put them to stirring pots from a chair or drying plastic dishes. Not only did it make things easier, but it got the job done with no stress. This one is somewhat like the one about cooking dinner and missing the movie because you had to clean up. But here you can also put them where they can see you and you can see them. Win win situation.
Never miss a chance to share your work or play with the kids. This will tell them that not only do you love them, but you also trust them. The more they 'help' the lower my stress levels went and the faster their eagerness to help grew. Besides, the best way to get closer to your kids is to help them play their games. Remember though, make the task a game or they will grow tired of the 'help' rather quickly because it will seem like work. Oh, husbands can join you in the same manner and for the same reasons. It will help their stress levels too.
When you have to wrap gifts, for whatever occasion, kids can get in the way. They want to know what you are doing. They want to know why you are doing it. They want to play with the tape. They like the pretty sparkly paper. They use the wrapping paper rolls as swords to fight with each other. Yeah, as I said, they can get in the way. Here is how you can relax and get the wrapping done with little trouble. Let them help. Yup, I said let them help.
When they were real young, I would give them small empty boxes, a sheet of wrapping paper and a roll of tape. Then I let them play while I did the real wrapping. They would have a grand time. Sometimes I gave them smaller gifts to wrap so they could announce that they wrapped that one as it is being presented. At Christmas time we would put the faux gifts under the tree until Christmas eve. Even the messed up, crinkly, box showing gifts went under the tree. How exciting that was for the kids. And how easy it was for me to get the wrapping job done without getting stressed.
Decorating tip: put rocks in the boxes before wrapping and use aluminum foil to wrap them. Tie pretty bows on them and put them outside. The rocks will keep them from blowing away and the aluminum foil will keep out the water for quite some time. A decorating solution to ease the stress of decorating and make it cheaper. I found that buying my decorations took a great chunk of my household budget. And with the homemade decorations, the kids can say they helped. PS: So what if the Jone's have three hundred dollars worth of decorated yard. Your decorations were made with love and a low stress level. Want to smile a bit more? Remind yourself that they will have to take all those decorations down after the holiday and find a place to store them for next year.
Job and boss woes?
Job stress is one of the hardest to handle because you have to remain 'strong' and positive in front of everyone, right? Wrong! You can do a lot of things to ease that stress and avoid hitting the boss or your co-worker.
Try this quick trick--Take a deep breath (deeper-deeper)--breathe in through your nose (or mouth if you prefer) and imagine all that air is filled with positive energy. The energy fills your body pushing the negative energy out as you slowly breathe out of your mouth (or nose if you prefer). I like to do this at the beginning and end of each day no matter what. It just seems to help me stay focused and stress-free. Embarrassed to do this at work right after the boss had told you he hated your work (or whatever it was that made you angry)? Don't be. Just step away from the situation, breathe in then out and return. Now you can do your work without feeling like hitting the boss.
Another thing you can do is to step away from the desk and pace a bit. I would pace in the hallway outside my bosses door. This would help me to focus better before I returned to my desk. Other ways: do some light exercise (stretch or bend), think of your happy place (sometimes keeping a picture with you can help with this one), imagine your boss getting yelled at by his boss (no no, you can't actually do this one) or make up one for yourself. Once you have gotten the anger and/or frustration out of the way, you can continue on without taking it out on someone else, and without your work suffering as a result.
All ten in one box
- Wake up
- Enough Sleep
- Still couldn't sleep
- Want to scream
- Dish-time after dinner woes
- Messy, messy, messy
- Decoration nightmares
- Cooking and baking woes
- Wrapping gifts
- Job and boss woes
To sum it all up
I know life can get stressful. We all have things that meet that category. The ten items of information above can, and will, help you focus on the task, play (because we all need to be kids now and then) and lose the stress that builds and builds and builds. That volcano will erupt, and when it does you might do something you will later regret. Don't let the stress build. Don't let the anger and frustration build. Keep that volcano dormant. Follow these ten steps to a happier you. You will enjoy life so much more and you will sleep like a baby.
© 2017 Cheryl Simonds