4 Creative Relaxation Methods to Try the Next Time You Feel Stressed

woman sitting outside with sun behind her, cooling down from exercising

Now that life has started (in some ways) getting back to normal after a year and a half of pandemic restrictions, my social calendar and work responsibilities have picked up dramatically. My fundraising job went from a flexible-remote environment to a fully in-person experience. 

Transitioning back into a routine has been great, but I miss being able to WFH in sweats! And while I love seeing my friends and family more often, I feel myself starting to burn out after a marathon of weddings, retirement parties, birthday gatherings, etc. 

RELATED: After a Year of Isolation, You Might Feel Overwhelmed by People IRL. Here’s How to Handle It.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to resume some semblance of normalcy, but I think my body got used to the relaxation and limitless “me time” of quarantine. If I’ve learned anything over the last year and a half, it’s to take care of myself and prioritize rest. 

Here are four ways I’m checking in with myself this summer. If you’re in a similar boat, give one a try! 

Taking luxurious showers 

Baths are the poster child of relaxation, but I personally prefer showers and think they can be just as lovely. Quality over quantity is key — a shower doesn’t need to last long to be relaxing. 

My shower ritual of body scrubs and sweet-smelling soaps started back in high school, and ever since, I’ve used showers as an opportunity to escape the world and focus on myself. There’s something about the steam and suds that clear my mind! Hang some eucalyptus from your shower head, light some candles, buy (or make) a sugar scrub, and give yourself the spa treatment. 

Spending time outdoors alone 

When I lived in the suburbs, I loved going for long drives down scenic roads to de-stress and chill out. Nature walks were also super helpful — even a short loop around a neighborhood trail could center me on a hectic day. 

Now that I live in a city, I like going for sunset strolls along the riverfront or parking myself on a bench in Central Park. Books are recommended but optional — sometimes all I need are dark sunglasses and my headphones to chill out and people watch. 

Going to Mass 

I’m not as consistent with going to Mass as I should be, but no matter how long it’s been, the routines and familiarity of Mass always ground me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s only an hour of my time, but it can change the trajectory of my entire day. Focusing on the readings and music help reorder my mind and heart when life gets chaotic. I enter stressed and leave with clarity. 

RELATED: Giving Yourself Grace: The Importance of Emotional Self-Care

Living in New York City, I frequently pass by churches during my travels. Whenever I can, I try to step inside to marvel at the beauty and have a quick moment of quiet in a busy city. The sights, smells, and reverence inside instantly relax me. 

Moving my body without the pressure of “working out” 

Whenever I’m stressed or anxious but not in the mood (or don’t have enough time) for a full workout, I’ve found simply moving my body helps. I pull out a yoga mat and do some poses or stretches, even if they don’t “flow” or make sense. Sometimes it’s nice to just listen to my body and do what feels right — if that means random jumping jacks in the middle of stretching, so be it! Letting off steam and getting a hit of endorphins helps clear my mind and boost my mood.

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