According to a report from ABC News, Americans are currently working longer hours than ever recorded by statistics. Add in the fact that people are more involved in communities, social events, kids sports and other activities, and you can see why people are overworked, over-scheduled and stressed.
If you want a bit of peace in your life, here are some tips on how to slow down and relax.
1. Concentrate on One Thing at a Time
Corporate productivity measures have made multitasking a heroic way of life. In reality, constant multitasking takes away from simple enjoyment. When you can, concentrate on and be present for the activity at hand. Put away the cell phone and email and enjoy the television program or dinner with family.
2. Schedule Quiet Time
Set aside 30 minutes every day for quiet time at home. Turn off televisions, computers and cell phones. Enjoy a good book, a board game, or a conversation with family members. Make it a tradition for the entire household.
3. Give Up One Thing
Take a look at the week ahead and give up one activity. If you go to the gym five times a week, make it four. You could also give up a lunch date or other social obligation. Use the time to recoup or relax. Make it a habit to schedule less but do more with your time.
4. Break It Up
Break up your day with a lot of short breaks. Stopping for just a few minutes to breathe, stretch or close your eyes can reduce the pace with which you face the day and make it easier to deal with stressful situations.
5. Be More Productive
Sometimes we waste our work time procrastinating. That causes us to push work time into relaxation or entertainment time, and we end up spending more time in activity. Buckling down and getting the work done allows you to end the day with satisfaction, reducing work-related thoughts and guilt that might invade the rest of your day.
6. Dress for Relaxation
Choose one day a week and keep your pajamas on until lunchtime. Lounging in comfortable clothes as you enjoy the morning gives a sense of luxury and unrushed hours.
For tips and advice on dealing with stress in your life, check out my book: De-Stress Your Life: Reduce Anxiety, Increase Energy, and Enjoy Your Stress-Free Life.
7. Hobby Time
Hobbies can provide enjoyable time that delivers the satisfaction of creating, learning or doing. Make sure you schedule time for your hobbies each week, even if you can only get an hour or so in. Creative pursuits can also relieve tension and stress, so you might find that hobby time will help you relax during work time.
8. Get Outside
Take a short walk around the neighborhood, take your dog to the park, or go for a hike with the family. If possible, turn cellphones to vibrate and leave behind other electronics so that you can enjoy nature. Don’t worry about heart rates and burned calories. Instead, amble through the woods or park and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.
9. Remove Clutter
Spend some time organizing your work or living spaces. When your physical spaces are less cluttered, your mental spaces will also feel more organized and less hurried.
For tips and advice on organizing every aspect of life, including social and mental areas, check out my book: Declutter Your Life: Reduce Stress, Increase Productivity, and Enjoy Your Clutter-Free Life.
10. Learn to Say No
You don’t have to accept every social invitation or say yes to every favor asked of you. Although you probably don’t want to turn your friends down at every opportunity, learn to prioritize and say “no” from time to time. If you are honest about your time obligations, friends will understand when you can’t attend every event.
11. Enjoy Your Pets
There have been many studies and anecdotes about the health benefits of a canine or feline companion. If you have a cat or dog, take time to enjoy them. Cuddle on the couch with your cat or throw a ball in the yard with your dog. Animals really know how to live for the moment, so allow them to show you how to relax and enjoy life.
12. Enjoy Simple Luxuries
Make it a point to enjoy a simple luxury once per day. A friend of mine kept an expensive box of chocolates in her desk drawer. Around 3:00 p.m. every day, she would close her office door for five minutes and savor a single piece of chocolate with a cup of tea.
You could enjoy a hot shower with your favorite body scrub, a leisurely bath, a great cup of coffee, a television show, or a good book. The trick is choosing something you really love and taking a few moments to fully savor it.
Learning to slow down and enjoy life will help you reduce stress and tension in your work, relationships and mental life. This can increase physical health and help you get more satisfaction out of every day.
If you had an hour to savor today, where would you go and what would you enjoy?