I recently asked some friends what they do to relax. At first, they just stared at me, then laughed, then said “seriously?” All of us yearn for some serious down time, but what I was seeking at that moment was some suggestions for a short 5-10 minute breather. That’s about the time frame that most of us have on a daily basis to commit to relaxation – whether it be in the car, between meetings, or just before bed.
I then asked those same friends how they relax for just five minutes, and I was able to garner some solid responses to share. I encouraged their brainstorming by asking what scent, sound, thoughts, and visual stimulation added to their relaxation activity. A few weeks ago, I stopped by a favorite Mexican restaurant for some take out. When I walked in the door, I was met by a warm burst of air, the smell of fresh tortillas, the citrus flavor of the margarita machine, and mariachi band music. I was instantly transported to a tropical location where all of these sensations came together to create a fond memory. How relaxing! Too bad that the host came up to me a few seconds later to assist me with my order.
One friend responded that he lights a candle and looks into the flame to relax. The scent of the candle wasn’t important, but it was the focus on the flame that cleared his mind. Another shared a favorite scent that she uses in her hand soap at home to give her a small reminder of slowing down and breathing it in. Music can also solicit a relaxing mood, or even liven it up.
I received some remarkable advice a couple of years ago that I need to revisit and put in force today. With busy schedules, back to back meetings, and email responses taking place at 10 o’clock at night, when can we find the time to squeeze in something more? The friend with the brilliant advice told me to treat my down time just like I would any other appointment. She said, “if I didn’t write it down on my calendar, I wouldn’t fully commit to it.” She had a point. I had many a good intention of designating a few minutes to rejuvenate, only to make up excuses as to why I didn’t have the time. Starting now, I’m going to write it down, find my place, and wake up my senses for just a few minutes.