Now that the Christmas rush is over, most of us get the luxury of an abbreviated work week, if not a full week of rest to recharge before the new year. It’s the perfect time to hygge – a cozy Danish tradition that focuses on rest and relaxation. I’m certainly happy to take a tip from the Danes, since they’re regularly ranked as the happiest nation in the world. Take some time to relax and hygge this week with some of these tips and ideas!
With all the tumult and anxiety going on lately, I’ve really been making an effort to try to equip myself with some coping mechanisms to keep from spinning out. For a long time, the second something made me anxious or upset, I’d let those feelings feed me until I was having an inconsolable panic attack. I’ve been in therapy for a few months now and over the past few weeks I’ve really started to learn that I had no coping skills I could use – I would just freeze up and let my thoughts spiral over and over or run down paths it shouldn’t go. Especially in light of the election results and confusion, I’m working to create a sort of “toolkit” to distract myself from unhealthy actions.
I used to primarily consider myself a lone wolf – I’d rather get through things alone rather than reaching out to other people. After the election (a night in which I spent on a Google Hangout with my friends, anxious, upset and teary) I headed back to Chicago a day early so I could be around people who felt the same way I did. Getting out of the house and being around my friends is an important way to connect with people to stay grounded, and calms the anxiety sparking in my head when I don’t have anyone to take me away from the thoughts. (Social media DEFINITELY does not count as a way to connect here.)
The past couple of months have been tough for me – moving out of Nashville and helping out with my family, while trying to prioritize my own mental health and happiness has been more challenging than I thought. I’ve been working hard over the last month to put myself first again and try to better relax. Here are a few ways I’m working it out!
Drink water. This one might not sound very helpful or important, but the act of drinking water has always been a great reminder for me to take a breath in my day – to get up from my computer, take a minute for myself and relax. Plus, making sure you’re properly hydrated is the best way to prioritize your health!
Close some browser tabs. I am a notorious multi-tabber – I’ll open something with the intention of finishing the article later, or watching the video later, and by the end of the day I’ve ended up with close to 30 open tabs. I recently added the app Pocket to my browser, and every now and then when my tabs are out of control, I’ll do a drive-by through all of my tabs and close the ones I know I’ll never get to or those work-related sites still hanging open and hit the button to save it to my “pocket” for later reference. (Full disclosure, in a couple months of using Pocket, I haven’t gone back and read anything. But it’s nice to have the option.)
Put one thing on your to-do list that you’ve already done, and check it off. Planning and making lists is one of my favorite things – and most of all, I love checking off the accomplishments. On the days where I feel particularly overwhelmed, or like there’s no possible way I’ll ever get it done, I write down something I’ve already done. It can be as simple as “eat breakfast” or “brush teeth” or “charge phone.” I think there’s something empowering in feeling like you’ve completed something on your list before you even get the rest of your day underway!
Unplug. Take a bath, go hiking, get off the grid for a weekend, give your phone to a friend – do whatever you need to do to get away from your distractions. I’m a person who finds it impossible to relax if I have any type of reminder of the outstanding tasks I have to do, so the best ways for me to disconnect are taking a shower, having a nap, or going for a run with my phone on airplane mode. Take a break from your responsibilities, and you’ll be more recharged to take them on!
Make a vision board. Times in my life where I’ve been really overwhelmed by circumstances – not liking the job I was in, the city I lived in, or whatever else – I’ve made vision boards to imagine what my ideal life looks like in order to help me get to it. Occasionally this has been more anxiety-inducing than relaxing – it can be daunting to think about what your ideal life will look like and what steps you’ll need to take to get there – but it can be motivational in helping inspire yourself to get out of a funk!
What are your tips for easy and quick ways to relax?