05.15.2014

5 Ways to Unwind in 15 minutes

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I am a person who often finds myself perpetually overwhelmed. Not because life has dealt me a bad hand, but it’s most often because I have not taken time to unwind. I was with an old friend (old like we’ve known each other since elementary school old) this past weekend and we were sitting on the couch talking (it’s very likely that I was becoming anxious just sitting there, given my need to constantly be moving) about life in general (and, no, I am not the type of person to sit with my friends over coffee and ponder the meaning of life). It was a natural conversation about how we often  find ourselves, at the end of the day, coming home from a long and stressful day, feeling as if we have twenty more tasks to complete. More often than not this “stress” is displaced onto our loving and unsuspecting (well, maybe mine not so much) husbands. It’s not until everything is “finished” do we really reflect and realize that all the frustration was merely a result of being “overwhelmed.”

So, I took this conversation to heart. Sunday evening I thought (there I go, more thinking… I promise, it’s not usually like this) about all the work I have done with clients and asked myself if I was really following my own advice. The obvious answer was “No.” Simply put, I was talking the talk and not walking the walk (which is often oh so easy to do). Here I was, a licensed therapist, with all the tools at my fingertips, and not using a single one of them. In all reality, if I am being perfectly honest with myself, I was using one of the most primitive defense mechanisms: displacement (you know, taking your frustrations and placing them on something/someone else, in my case, the hubs). I reflected some more (this must have been a pretty deep and meaningful Sunday evening for me…) and came up with five simple ways that I could unwind after a long day. They are so simple and can be carried out in about 15 minutes. I tried them out for the first three days of this week, and honestly, I have felt more centered and in a much more peaceful mood. I actually looked forward to doing the tasks (i.e. dinner.. whipped up a pretty scrumptious curry dish coming to the blog soon, walking the dog, looking over bills…).

1. Turn on the tunes (check out the logic behind this here, in a post we did last year on music and your mood). My current favorite Pandora station? Jack Johnson. LOVE!

2. Light a candle. Doesn’t that just automatically put you in a more serene and peaceful place? Try to pick a calming scent, or one that takes you to a happy place, since smell is the strongest sense to evoke memories.

3. Undress: Okay, hear me out. How often do you come home and do all you have to do in what you’ve been wearing all day? Swap those clothes for “comfy” clothes. My preference? Leggings, a loose top, and slippers. Changing clothes signifies the change of activities and mind set.

4. Lay down for 5 minutes, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of one thing you were grateful for during the day. Then take a huge exhale and blow out all the steam from the day. It’s a little yoga-ish… in with the good, out with the bad, and then let’s get going on a nice evening.

5. Hug someone. Your pet, your significant other, your parents, whoever you live with, or your pillow. Why? Hugs boost your levels of oxytocin and serotonin. The result? A decrease in loneliness, anger, and isolation and an increase in positive mood and happiness.

And, if all else fails, sleep on it. Tomorrow is a new day 🙂

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