Chill out! Easier said than done, isn’t it?
I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. I fall asleep late and wake up early, it’s a catch-22 (which is a great book, by the way). My friend reckons Mercury retrograde is to blame. Let’s hope she’s right – in that case, it should all be over soon! Anyway, at 6:20 am this morning, when I had already been lying awake for an hour, I was thinking that I should probably focus on other ways to chill out.
Let me share with you some of my favourite ways to relax and disconnect from the world – in no particular order.
1/ Walks in nature
Nature walks, or forest bathing, as it is sometimes called, is excellent for lowering stressed-out shoulders. And nothing but nothing brings me more joy than watching Albert skip excitedly along a path with his tail wagging happily from side to side. Pure bliss.
Beaches are relaxing by nature, and there is a scientific explanation for that. I won’t try to explain it here, but it is something to do with negative ions. And apparently, wading helps you chill out even more, as it quite literally makes you more grounded. Hearing waves crashing, feeling the wind on your face and the sand (or pebbles) beneath your feet – unbeatable.
3/ Taking photos
It has taken me a while to figure this out, but I think I’m ‘in the flow’ when I’m taking pictures. Time falls away, and all that matters to me is capturing the motif juuuust right, with the light falling on it like so… Yup, it can drive others to distraction, but I love it. I have long since given up on ‘proper’ cameras. As a minimalist, I’ve never liked carrying stuff with me, and now that mobile phone cameras are so good, there is no need to. My phone is always with me (with one notable exception – I lost it just before my trip to Cyprus), so iPhoneography is a perfect fit for me.
No explanation needed, surely? There are lots of benefits to belonging to a dog, such as reduced stress and lower rates of depression – us canine companions even get sick less often! Still, out of all the benefits, cuddletimes has got to be the best one. There’s nothing more relaxing than getting a faceful of soft, warm fur…
I love exploring new places, and thrive on the buzz of not knowing what’s around the corner. And I particularly enjoy it when I stumble across places like this one in beautiful Beer. Exploring is an activity I can combine with my love of photography, so it’s a win-win for me.
As I love exploring new places and photographing them, it goes without saying that I also love to travel. You know what they say: A change is as good as a rest! One of my best travel memories is of emerging from a metro station in the middle of Prague and having no idea where I was or how to get to my hotel. It gave me an enormous sense of freedom!
The photo below was taken in Valletta, on one of my trips to Malta. Like Prague, Valletta is a particularly picturesque city, and I hope to return there soon.
Travelling is great, but you can also go exploring on your own doorstep. It’s just about noticing what’s already there. Getting into photography was a great help for me in this respect. It teaches you to see the beauty in everyday vistas, and and to be present in moments that otherwise might have passed you by.
8/ Spending time with friends
Like I said, this list is in no particular order. If it was, my friends would top it. They really are the best! Laughing with friends is always a great way to chill out, and I often find myself telling them about things I didn’t even realise was bothering me. Find a friend who is a good listener, and you are guaranteed to feel better after a good, old chinwag.
9/ A digital detox
The constant notifications and alerts we receive on our phones, tablets and computers make it very difficult to relax. Try a digital detox – or try putting your gadgets in flight mode for a while. If you can’t do that, at least switch off the notifications from any non-important apps. You don’t need your phone to go ping every time someone likes your Instagram post, for instance – you’ll see them all the next time you open the app, anyway.
Relaxing, inspiring, funny, fascinating… As Oscar Wilde said, “What you read when you don’t have to determines what you will be when you can’t help it”. According to research, reading is the best way to relax, and just reading for a mere 6 minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%.
(By the way, here are 10 online resources for free e-books.)
Another scientifically proven fact. Singing is relaxing, but having a good old sing-song can also cheer you up! It’s a double whammy, in other words. Try joining a choir for additional benefits – cf. point 8 about spending time with friends. Post-rehearsal drinkies are a great way to chill out and meet new people.
Don’t forget to set aside some time in the week just for yourself – try a quiet evening in with your favourite cuppa tea, a pampering face mask, candlelight, a soft blanket, a good book and your secret, guilty pleasure (mine is Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food). And then click play on this playlist for a lazy evening in.
I hope this little list might help you to find new ways to chill out – enjoy!
Love, Neens xx