One of the most important parts of working hard is knowing when to take a break. If you sometimes struggle to find a quick and easy way to unwind, though, not to worry! The karuna school of happiness is here to help with three simple ways you can relax, take a load off, and wake up feeling fully rejuvenated the next day.
1. Take a nature walk
Try taking a walk without plugging in - no headphones, no walking partner (make sure to be safe and take the necessary precautions, of course) - just the sound of the breeze to accompany your thoughts. Taking the time to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors has proven health benefits, and it’s the perfect way to decompress and let yourself become inspired by something greater than yourself.
This experience is referred to as awe, that wonderful feeling of being one small part of this great big world, the knowledge that there is something out there that’s much, much, bigger than you or I. Researchers have found that this awestruck feeling increases “ethical decision-making, generosity, and prosocial values.” It even “enhanced prosocial helping behavior and decreased entitlement compared to participants in a control condition.”
Experiencing awe in all of its forms, even if you’re just taking a walk around a local park, helps people to become more easily situated within broader social contexts. This can be key - gaining some perspective can really help you to separate yourself from the problems you may be experiencing at the time. 1
2. Listen to some relaxing music
“Relaxing” music can be whatever you want it to be. Whether it’s Enya or Metallica, listening to music that you enjoy has a host of benefits, from increasing focus and productivity to reducing the pain levels people experience. Next time you’re in need of some time for yourself, don’t be afraid to turn up the music.
3. Take a warm bath
This may not appeal to everyone, but taking a nice, long bath can actually provide a load of benefits, both mental and physical! Hot water and steam can help to ease muscle tension and fatigue, open up your pores, and clear out those sinuses.
What’s even better, though, is taking that time to just be present with yourself - try a breathing exercise, a guided meditation, or just simply closing your eyes (be careful not to fall asleep!). Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is nothing at all. Make sure you take an hour or two to do nothing but breathe and unpack what’s been on your mind, even if it’s not in the bath. That’s the perfect method for decluttering all those worries, stressors, and problems that have been weighing on your mind.
Remember, taking time for yourself is just as important as the time you give to other people. Practice self-compassion, and you will find your ability to spread compassion to others will begin to expand, too. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Spread compassion in 360 degrees...starting with yourself. Happiness lives here. Welcome home.
1 Piff, Paul K., et al. “Awe, the Small Self, and Prosocial Behavior.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 108, no. 6, 2015, pp. 883–899., doi:10.1037/pspi0000018.