Most people I know are always “on.” Things to do, places to go! Sometimes we need to slow down. Whether you’re just getting in from work/school or recovering after a rough day, having a wind-down ritual is a nice way to switch your brain into relaxation mode. Since I’m dealing with the stress of visa business, this seems like the best time to share on this topic. After lots of trial and error, I’ve found what works best for me:
Drop my keys in the bowl by the door, hang up my jacket and bag, remove my shoes, change into lounge clothes, wash my face, and pour a glass of water to sip (or chug, depending on my needs at that moment). Sometimes I opt for a snack or more flavorful drink, but water is always a constant. This is all within 60 seconds of closing my front door. At this point, my body registers that it’s time to chill. I open the windows (or adjust the thermostat when in the U.S.), top up the water and essential oil in my diffuser or light a scented candle to get a nice aroma circulating, turn on some music, and finally sit down. Big sigh. Now I can really open the eyes of my eyes for the first time (regards to E. E. Cummings) and do whatever comes next. Whether I gaze peacefully at something beautiful or engage in pleasant conversation over a cup of tea with someone dear to me, I have pumped the brakes on life in the fast lane and can now cruise.
What appeals most to YOUR senses?
- Scent: autumn apples, blueberry, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon & clove, citrus fruits, cognac, frankincense & myrrh, freshly mowed grass, honeysuckle, lavender, oregano & garlic, peppermint, pine, rosemary & mixed herbs, roses, vanilla & tonka bean, ylang-ylang, or a nice wood fire. Use fresh items, scented candles, essential oils in a diffuser, or wax melts. **My favorite smells change with the time of year. For example, I like light floral scents in the spring, but I yearn for warm sweets and spices in autumn and winter. I share scents to toy with at the beginning of every month to help remind me of different options.
- Sight: a candle, a vase of flowers, a waterscape, any quiet scene in nature, a roaring fireplace, pictures of the wonders of the world, pets or baby animals, a photo album that sparks sweet feelings of nostalgia, or the perfect novel. **The goal here is not to zone out but rather to become fully immersed in simple beauty.
- Sound: the sounds of the beach, a crackling fire, a gentle thunderstorm, a rushing river, the songs of summer insects, wind over a meadow of grazing sheep, soft instrumental pieces, relaxing tones, or something ethereal like the music of Enya. **I have an aural fixation, which is why I offer music and ambient soundscapes every week. I live to hear beautiful sounds.
- Flavor: fresh fruit or berries, dark chocolate, buttered toast, a grilled cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup, a few slices of tomato with some fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, a nice cup of tea, coffee, ice cold milk, juice, or even a simple glass of water. **There is little that cannot be improved by a hot drink and warm company.
- Feeling: the perfect temperature, comfortable lounge clothes or PJs, a deep and supportive seat, a snuggly blanket, slippers or thick socks, a pet or loved one to cuddle, a weighted blanket, or something small to fiddle with (stress ball, slime, an ink pen). **I liked to keep my home in the U.S. at subzero temperatures, so I always had extra throws and blankets on hand for guests. In the UK, I’m still finding my perfect temperature.
These are just a few suggestions. Try to engage all of your senses when creating a ritual or routine; it makes the experience all the more immersive.
Here are this week’s suggestions for fun and enriching activities:
- Relaxing Music: “A Day Without Rain” by Enya. You can listen to it here or find the album on Amazon or streaming.
- Soothing Sounds: “Waterfall Sounds” by The Guild of Ambience. Here is a link to one of their most soothing videos.
- Puzzle: Sudoku. You can find the game here along with everything you need to know about how to play.
- Movie: Ever After (1998). You can find it on Amazon or on a streaming service.
- Creative Prompt (write, draw, paint, sculpt, photograph, or collage something based on this subject): royalty
- Mythology Lesson: Cronus. Read about him here, and do a little further research if the mood takes you!
- Short Reading: “The Goose-Girl.” You can read it here, or you can listen to it on YouTube.
Try one per day or everything every day, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying a more vibrant daily round.
How do you wind down from a stressful or busy day?