Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5 ways to relax without plugging in

 Let's play word association: relax

What do I get?
  • beach
  • birds singing
  • eyes closed
  • lying down
  • calm muscles
  • fresh air
But the reality? When I have a minute two relax, I plug in. I flip open my computer, I check my phone, I turn on the TV. It has become part of our culture to relax by zoning out in front of the TV or some other screen. Except that's not really relaxing. Sure, it's easy and entertaining and requires little thought, but those flashing images actually make us more hyper than we were before we turned the TV on. We don't even pay for cable but I can always find an episode of Law & Order to watch. And then of course I have trouble falling asleep and tend to have stressful dreams. Like I said, not relaxing.

Yet night after night I still mess around on the computer and then watch some TV before bed. Why? Because it's easy. It's hard to really relax. I recently went to the beach by myself and, instead of meditating while watching the waves or getting engrossed in a page-turning book, I found my mind racing. I couldn't relax.

Obviously I need a little more practice at the art of relaxation. Here are five ways to relax without staring at a screen. (The key here: practice. You can't meditate once a week and expect to reach zen or whatever calm state you're hoping for. Practice again and again. Learn to be comfortable with your body and mind at rest.)

1. Meditate. I'm no expert but it's easy to find a local class or guidance online. Here is some basic info from the Mayo Clinic.

2. Read a book. It doesn't need to be high brow literary fiction. Anything in print that can take you away from your daily concerns will work.

3. Cook. Or choose another activity that you like doing if cooking feels like a chore. Get engrossed, get involved, lose yourself in the activity. Get in a state of flow.

Surely I can so something in the kitchen with this massive squash!

4. Exercise. Whatever works. High intensity with some house music or solo yoga on a beach. Again, get in your flow.

5. Play. Do something fun! Go fly a kite. Kick a soccer ball. Take a picnic to the park. Get outside with friends and family and pretend you're a kid. Have fun!

Bonfire on the beach with friends. Definitely fun!


  1. I'm definitely guilty of plugging in to relax! One place which helps me relax with NO screens is the beach! I instantly feel all my stress melt away...

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