Busy lifestyles are the norm and most Americans find that they are rushing from the moment that the alarm wakes them out of a sound sleep until they can lay their head down on their pillow at night. Between waking and retiring, endless hours are filled with responsibilities, activities, events, and social commitments. It’s no wonder that many Americans suffer from high blood pressure, ulcers, and other ailments, no wonder that being overweight is an American epidemic because most people eat on the run and consume too much “fast food” while on the go.
It is possible to relax, however, and these ten simple steps can help slow the pace.
1. Leave the phone at home. Cell phones have become indispensable but they also tie us all to work, to home, and to responsibility. Enjoy an evening without the cell phone, go out to eat without the phone, or turn off the ringer.
2. Let the answering machine field calls. At home, let the answering machine pick up calls so that you can have more me-time or family time. If someone important calls, you have the option to pick up the call but otherwise, let the messages record and deal with it all later.
3. Eat dinner as a family. That’s right, have an Ozzie and Harriett moment and eat with the family gathered around the table when it’s not a holiday. Whether it’s a real sit down dinner or just sandwiches (or even take out), gathering together to enjoy a meal in leisure is relaxing. It offers a chance to unwind, to discuss the day’s events and eat without being in a rush.
4. Forget about network television; plug a favorite movie into the machine and enjoy watching something you truly enjoy commercial free. You’ll be amazed at how much more relaxing it is to enjoy a movie without commercial interruption.
5. Make a date with your spouse. Send the kids to the grandparents or to a sleep over or hire a babysitter but make regular dates with your spouse a priority for a chance to unwind and to spend carefree quality time with each other.
6. Make family time too. Have a family game night or night out or hike or walk in the park that isn’t limited to time constraints. Visit the library as a family, go to a local play or just take an old-fashioned Sunday afternoon drive.
7. Laugh. Whether it’s laughing at a comedy movie, listening to a favorite comic, reading funny books (comics) or telling jokes with friends, laughter can lighten the stress load and make you feel both younger and better.
8. Pack a bag and go away even if it’s just for a night or weekend or not all that far from home a getaway trip can help lessen stress. Opt for a hotel with an indoor pool or other amenities you crave then enjoy.
9. Reconnect with old friends and family. Remember that cousin who was your best friend growing up? Get together or at least make regular phone calls to a favorite relative or friend. Reconnecting can lessen stress and help us to unwind as we touch base with our past.
10. Find a new hobby or activity. Become a golf addict, play pool, take horse back riding lessons, a creative writing course, or volunteer to work with youth. Collect antique beer steins or postcards. Find something away from work, away from the normal stress to focus on and enjoy.
These simple steps used together or apart can help lighten the load of stress that most of us carry around. By letting go and enjoying life, we can relax tight muscles, forget about the office or job concerns, and enjoy with the passions of carefree youth.