A weekend spa retreat sounds heavenly, doesn't it? Two days of complete and total tranquility…OK, who are we kidding? Between work, the kids and the bank account, who can possibly pull this off? Good news: You don't really need one to relax and rejuvenate. With practice, you can boost your well-being practically anywhere, anytime. These easy, no-cost refreshers are the perfect way to start.
1. Wing It Once In a While
If you're ruled by your to-do list, it's time to learn the art of anything goes. Contradictory as it sounds, you have to schedule spontaneity, at least at first, says life coach Cheryl Richardson, author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care. How? Plan a plan-free day: Put it on your calendar (in pen!) and when the time comes, let your freewheeling, creative, impulsive side call all the shots. Whatever you feel like doing that day, do it—no chores or responsible girl tasks allowed. Wake up and then go right back to bed. Watch a Real Housewives marathon. Spend an embarrassing amount of time on Facebook. Go solo to see that new rom-com your husband scoffs at.
2. Give Yourself a Rubdown
Two tennis balls in a tube sock is all you need for a DIY deep-tissue massage. Kristy Yazzi, a massage therapist at Canyon Ranch wellness center in Tucson, Arizona, tells you how: Lie down on the floor or in bed and place it under your lower back with the balls positioned on each side of your spine. Using a slow, continuous movement, roll your body back and forth (toward your head and then toward your feet), letting the tennis balls knead your muscles.
3. Act Like the Kid You Were
Need to destress? Regress. For a guaranteed mood lift, do whatever it was that gave you joy before teen angst changed your world view. "A girl is most connected to her soul, to the things she really loves to do, between the ages of 10 and 13," says Richardson. Think of a few things you couldn't live without when you were that age. "I loved digging in the dirt," says Richardson. "Today I love flowers and gardening." If you can't recall any particular activities, take a cue from your children. Who cares if it's age-inappropriate? That's the point!
4. Pump Up Your iPod
Since music affects your mood (and heart rate and brain waves and dance moves), create a playlist of songs that demand you have a good time, like Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do," Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and pretty much anything by The Go-Go's.
5. Meditate On the Fly
Don't have a quiet spot to get Zen? You don't need it. Try mindful meditation, the simple practice of moment-to-moment awareness to quiet the mind and calm the body. Say you're cutting up veggies for dinner. With each chop, really notice the crunch and vibrant color of the carrots and peppers. Heading out for a walk? Let the rhythm of your footfalls put you in a meditative state. "We have to train our brains to help our bodies relax," says Marie Steinmetz, MD, who heads an integrative primary care practice in Alexandria, Virginia. If you need an extra hand to find your happy, peaceful place, Dr. Steinmetz recommends listening to guided imagery recordings by psychotherapist Belleruth Naparstek (HealthJourneys.com).
6. Pay It Backward
Got extra coupons? Offer them to the people in the checkout line behind you. It feels good to do good—and acts of kindness (even mini ones) totally count toward your lifetime karma points.
7. Destress Your Face
"Women don't realize how much tension they carry in their jaw," says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, codirector of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC. "If you clench a fair amount of the time, over the long run it can cause hypertrophy, or thickening of the muscle on the side of the cheek, and change the shape of your face." Chin up—it's easy to relieve the pressure. When you apply moisturizer, gently massage the muscles along your jawline, under your ears, in a circular motion. (It's easy to find the spot: Clench your jaw and it'll pop right out.)
8. Redefine Downtime
Rid yourself of that stuck-in-a-rut feeling by throwing a wrench into your daily routine. "Downtime is simply any enjoyable deviation from the typical demands of your day," says psychologist Dan Baker, PhD, author of What Happy Women Know. Look for opportunities to make those precious moments happen—and we really do mean moments. Spend just five minutes on the phone with a friend you haven't talked to in a while, take the dog for a late-afternoon bonus walk around the block, take a more scenic route on your drive home from work once in a while. "Even a slight change in routine can bring big benefits," points out Dr. Baker.
9. Channel Carol Channing
There's a reason grandes dames like Carol or your sassy great-aunt are so unflappable: Everyday annoyances are no big whoop when you've been there, done that. "They've learned what's really important and, when faced with adversity, don't ask, 'Why me?' but 'How can I learn and grow from this?'" Dr. Baker explains. You'll get there too…eventually. Until then, try to adopt that "so what" attitude whenever you feel yourself getting riled up about something small. You'll be amazed at how well it works.
10. Say It to Make It So
Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? "If you build it, he will come." The same thinking holds true with your choice of words. "Just as smiling has been shown to change your mood, language can do the same," says Loretta LaRoche, author of Lighten Up. What you say and how you say it steers your state of mind. So when a friend asks, "How are you?" don't refer to your usual script ("OK, I guess" or "I've got so much to do today"). Instead, say how you want to feel as if you already do ("I'm fantastic!"). "You not only convince others, you convince yourself too," she says.
11. Take a Power Nap
You know you could use it, but you insist on powering through your day anyway. Bad idea, says Jyotsna Sahni, MD, a physician who specializes in sleep medicine and women's health at Tucson's Oro Valley Hospital and Canyon Ranch wellness center. Your brain needs a breather in much the same way your muscles do when you are working out. There's definitely a point where overdoing it leads to diminishing returns. A little shuteye clears the fog and reenergizes you to tackle your daily tasks much more effectively.
But be sure to limit your midafternoon snooze to 20 or 30 minutes (set an alarm just in case), Dr. Sahni says. Any longer and "sleep drunkenness" will make it difficult to rouse from your nap and hard to fall asleep at bedtime.
12. Wake Up with a Hug—Literally!
Toss your covers aside, bend your knees, bring them to your chest and hug them close to your body with your arms. Hold the pose for 20 to 50 seconds, then release and repeat, says Yazzi. This stretch hits all the muscles in your body— and it feels great. What better way to start the day?
13. Go to Recess
Kids get a break during the school day. Why shouldn't you get one too? So head out to your backyard, plop down on the grass and just chill. One huge advantage of the great outdoors: no power outlets. Just you and nature. Natural environments turn down the static of everyday life, wake up your senses and calm the constantly whirring frontal lobes of your brain.
14. Make Over Your Mindset
You spend your days caring for everyone else, and you know where that leaves you? At the very end of the line. It's time to give yourself permission to cut the line for your own TLC—and don't be stingy about it. "There's a huge difference between self-care and selfishness," explains Dr. Baker. "If you can't be good with yourself, then you can't be your best with others." In other words, don't let guilt spoil your self-pampering. Doctor's orders.
No copyright infringement intended. We do not own this article. It was originally published at https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/wellness/advice/a4283/14-ways-to-relax-93568/