As Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” That’s easier said than done sometimes. Here’s how to relax and enjoy life – one day at a time.
You shouldn’t have to wait for a vacation to relax. Find the peaceful rhythm in your everyday and discover how to relax and enjoy life.
One secret of how to relax and be happy is your perspective. If you want to be more of a glass-half-full person, start by cultivating an attitude of gratitude. You can even make a gratitude list and jot down three things a day that you are grateful for.
Notice the little things that make your life more enjoyable–your morning cup of coffee, your fuzzy slippers, that awesome pair of shoes. Take a moment and be grateful for them.
Be thankful for the people in your life–your kids, your partner, your family, your friends.
Take note of the strength that has come from struggle. Nobody wants to go through trials or adversity, but we are nonetheless shaped by them. What you have been through has made you the person you are today, so be thankful for you. You can appreciate that you are now in a position to understand and even help someone else going through the same thing.
By becoming more grateful for what you have, you will see your everyday life as something to enjoy.
People who know how to relax and enjoy life fully enter into the present moment. This is a central part of mindfulness. When you focus on where you are right now, your anxiety over the future and past fade.
Mindfulness is active because it involves paying attention. Notice the warmth of the water as it passes over your skin in the shower, listen and name the sounds you hear outside, or take a deep breath from your steaming mug of coffee.
When you practice this type of observation, you will be able to notice your feelings and emotions, but–and this is the goal–not be ruled by your impulses. Everyone gets irritated, but when you are mindful, you can observe that in yourself and resist snapping at your kids or husband as a result.
You can practice mindfulness by meditating. One added benefit, meditation is a key to how to relax your mind.
Meditation turns off the white noise of your life, the constant buzz of “must-do-that” and “what-about-this.”
- Find a spot where you can relax at home. It should be quiet.
- Get comfortable. You can sit on the floor, on a couch, or chair. You can even lie down (hooray!).
- Choose your focus. You can choose to think about an inspiring quote or a Bible verse, or you can focus solely on your breath.
If you choose to meditate on words, divide the sentence into natural halves–one to say as you inhale, and one as you exhale. Repeat the words in your mind as you take deep, slow breaths. It could be as simple as “Breathing In, Breathing Out”.
When thoughts creep in that distract you, take note of them and then let them float away. Return to your breath.
If you choose to focus solely on the breath, your goal is to be fully present in the moment. Again, when your mind shifts to byways of thought (and that is natural), acknowledge those thought trails but dismiss them and return your focus to your breathing.
Notice the rise and fall of your chest, ribs, and abdomen, the feeling of the air as it passes through your nose and over your throat, and the difference in sound between your inhalation and exhalation.
Mediating five minutes a day can lower your anxiety, boost your mood, and–yes–relax you.
Yoga focuses the mind and strengthens the body; it’s another key to how to relax. In addition to increasing your body’s strength, flexibility, and balance, practicing yoga can decrease tension throughout your body, lower your stress hormones and boost your happiness hormones, improve the quality of your sleep, and build your self confidence.
Don’t dismiss yoga because you hate spandex or you are terribly inflexible. Yoga is not about being model-thin and twisting your body into a pretzel. Yoga is about finding your stretch and improving your strength. There are always modifications to positions so anyone can do them (Heck! Even people in nursing homes do yoga!). You need only comfortable clothes and a willingness to try.
Join our Facebook Group, The Happy Coffee Mom, where we post weekly Sunday Sunshine Yoga Practices to help calm you down and get you ready for the week ahead.
We all know that sleep is important. It is necessary for a healthy immune system, optimal brain function, and physical recovery. But did you know that getting adequate sleep is a secret to how to relax and enjoy life?
The quality of your nighttime sleep can control the quality of your day. A well-rested person is happier, more focused, more creative, and relaxed.
So don’t squeeze sleep out of your day. Make bedtime a priority. Have a sleep routine (this is called sleep hygiene, which to me sounds pretty gross, but there you go).
- Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. That type of stimulation makes it difficult for your brain to journey toward sleep.
- Drink tea. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages at night. If you think caffeine doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong. Caffeine is a stimulant that reduces the quality of your sleep–even if it doesn’t prevent you from falling asleep. So stick to tea, preferably unsweetened. Chamomile tea has been used for years as a natural sleep inducer.
- Keep your room dim. Lowered lights signal to your brain to produce melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. So in the evening, especially in that pivotal 30 minutes before bed, dim your lights.
- Meditate. Do you remember when I said you can meditate lying down? By focusing and breathing, you can lower your blood pressure and calm your mind in preparation for sleep.
Recognize and Release What You Cannot Control
Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, “This relax-and-enjoy-life thing sounds great, but it’s just not possible. There are stressors in my life that are outside my control.”
Exactly. They are outside your control.
Once you recognize that certain stressors are beyond your ability to manage or reduce, you can release them.
Is your worry, stress, or irritability moving the ball even a little? I think not. It is only lowering your quality of life.
So name all of those stressors that have set up camp in your brain. You can even make a list. Then divvy them up: these are within the realm of my control and these are not. For the ones outside your control–crumple up that list or even burn it.
You have to release what you cannot control, or the weight of the world will consume you. If something is outside your area of influence, let it go. Take breath–and let it go.
This is not a one-and-done activity, but an ongoing process. If you want to relax and enjoy life, you will daily have to recognize and release what is outside your control.
Putting It All Together
Think about what makes vacation so relaxing and enjoyable–you’re happy to be there, you’re fully present, you’re taking in what is all around you, you’re resting, and you are mentally distancing yourself from your at-home stressors. This is why you love vacation.
But you can have all that at home. By cultivating gratitude, being mindful, practicing meditation and yoga, prioritizing sleep, and releasing what is outside your control, you can find a peaceful rhythm in your everyday and–take a breath–relax and fully enjoy your life.