Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Make Like a Penguin - and CHILL OUT

Think Sharp

I read a crazy article in Women's Health a few weeks ago about stress.  Stress can be really helpful in the short term (like for 5 minutes where you get super human strength to lift a car up and save a little kid), but does really crappy things to you and your health long-term.  Your short term and long term memory are pretty much screwed, and your chances of getting sick goes through the roof...etc.,etc.

Am I the only one who often feels like this?
What I found particularly disconcerting, however, was not the article's notes on the effects of stress, but rather on how women in our culture perceive stress.  We wear it like a badge of honor.  When a girlfriend starts to tell us about her insane schedule for the week, rather than encouraging her to slow down and not over-book herself, we try to one-up her with our own crowded calendar.  Women even feel that if they are not doing something "productive" every moment of the day, they are lazy.

So today, I'd like to encourage you, in the midst of all the time you make to eat well and sweat hard and dress cute, to take an evening to relax.

If the last time you took some time to yourself was before you started college and you need ideas, here's some things that always seem to rejuvenate me:

Light Candles

They smell amazing (hello, aromatherapy!) and remind you that you are supposed to be unwinding and enjoying yourself.  I love the Slatkin & Co. candles from Bath and Body Works.

Take a Bubble Bath

A nice thing about baths (besides more aromatherapy) is that it's pretty hard to rush through them.  They're an excellent way to relax your muscles as well as your mind.  You can make yours even more fun by crumbling your own LUSH bath bar into the running water. 

Eat Something Amazing

I'd been having a stressful week, and my hubby surprised me by picking up pastries from the little coffee shop by our old apartment.  The powdered sugar creation is some kind of almond croissant.  The other croissant has peaches in it.  YUM.  (I encourage you to eat some "real" food first...this will help fill you up and keep you from feeling bad for enjoying what you love. This is no time to beat yourself up for enjoying an awesome treat!)

Read Something Uplifting, Something Fun, or Plan a Trip

I always find God's word incredibly comforting...having truth to cling to makes the cares of this world seem much less overwhelming.  Knowing God's in control reminds me that the world will not, in fact, fall apart, if I take an evening off. 

Magazines are awesome because you can finish an article or two in a shorter period of time...I love classic novels, but I find it frustrating to read Dickens or Austen at only 15 minutes per sitting.  Runner's World has some great tips on running (as one would expect), as well as some entertaining stories about insane runs and how they go wrong...a good laugh is a great way to relax.

Studies show that a great deal of the joy we get from vacations comes from anticipating them beforehand.  Don't do any stressful official planning...get a travel guide and leaf through, looking for anything that seems fun.  Get a highlighter or dog-ear pages so you can easily find your ideas later.

Get Your Down Dog On

I really can't say enough good things about Tara Stiles' book, Slim Calm Sexy Yoga.  She uses layman terms for all the poses, and offers sequences that can be done in 5-15 minutes.  Yoga is an excellent way to relax - it releases muscles tension and increases flexibility.  Particularly for the poses shown above, it forces your mind to focus on the present (i.e. not falling over), rather than stressing about your growing to do list.

So...next time you get overwhelmed, I'd suggest you reshuffle that schedule, kick back for a few hours, and just unwind.  (Plus, we're already halfway to Friday - that's gotta make you feel good!)

1 comment:

  1. I want that book. Actually, I want that book + a video or CD of her talking me through the series, complete with the odd drumming/chanting music yoga classes always play and which always allow me to almost fall asleep in one leg chair pose.


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