We all need some time for ourselves, for hobbies, for downtime, for relaxation. Sadly modern fast-paced lifestyles don’t always allow us to take the time for those activities. But we should always strive to set aside at least a little bit of spare time. Taking time for ourselves is essential to one’s wellbeing. And while sometimes it might seem like we’re just indulging ourselves and the inevitable rush of guilt comes in over not completing some other task, taking some downtime actually enables you to do the rest of the work better and faster. So it’s not actually taking our time, it’s giving back our time in a way. But of course only to a certain degree. As with most thing taking time for ourselves also requires finding some balance. And that’s the most difficult part.
How much time to take?
I am just going to write what nobody wants to read: depends on the person. Some people just need some alone time, some need socializing, others need different activities which may take very little or a lot of time. Which is why a very good solution would be to find a couple of these activities that help you and you enjoy, which can be done with as little time, effort and preparation as possible and which you can squeeze in on the fly.
Personally, I have a lot of these. From very time consuming to really quick and simple so I’ll try and share a couple of the former ones with you. Maybe they will inspire you or you will find they work for you as well.
1. Doing my nails
Just the other day my partner had a comment about the amount of time I invest in doing my manicures. You see, he saw that as a chore. I explained it was not an obligation but a relaxing activity that I enjoy.
I sit down, take my tools, choose a color, bring my laptop and make sure it is at a time when nobody will disturb me (aka when the little one is asleep). My go to show to watch while I do my nails is Greys Anatomy. I’ve been doing that for 14 years! I sometimes can’t believe it’s been so long since this show first aired. My manicure routine does not necessarily take 40 minutes to complete though. I have a number of steps but don’t always do all of them and I adapt the whole process to the amount of time I have to spare. If any left, I watch the remaining of the show while doing something else, it happens.
So here are all the steps: remove old polish, soak hands in hand cream, wait for it to get completely absorbed or wipe excess off with something that absorbs well, cut nails, file nails, paint nails with chosen color, apply top coat, wait for it to dry, remove excess polish if any, apply cuticle oil. Out of all these steps only removing old nail polish, applying a new color and waiting for it to dry are absolutely necessary. The rest I do as I see fit.
I’m not sure what exactly is about this process that relaxes me. Maybe it’s just the end result where even if all else fails at least my hands look nice and pampered. Since they are the first thing I see before myself I instantly feel more cared for and put together.
The process of watching a show I like is also important. I don’t have much time to watch TV so doing these two things in parallel is a great option. I may not be following 100% since I do have to actually look at my hands quite a lot obviously but I still see most of it and follow the story via dialog. Also, my chosen show is like a cathartic experience (thank you Shonda).
2. Working out
This one takes a little bit more time. Even if you pick a short workout you still have to take into account changing, warming up, taking a shower afterward and so on. But it’s definitely one of the best things you can take time out for. I’m sure I don’t have to list all the benefits of working out but let’s just say it is beneficial for the body and the soul and you will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment at the and as well as feel more relaxed. I gladly sacrifice the rest of the activities listed here to fit in a workout.
3. Spending time with my dog
Ahh, Monday. This is by far the most flexible activity. You can either go for an hour-long walk or pet it for a minute or anything in between. I already raved about the positive effects of having a dog by your side and petting your dog in 4 Benefits of bringing your dog to work but I’m sure other pets have similar benefits as well. I take advantage of this several times a day or whenever I (or she) need a pick me up. We recently celebrated our dog Monday’s fifth birthday and it was quite the family affair. She truly is a member of the family.
4. Playing the piano
This could also be a very flexible activity if I was better at it. Things being as they are I need to really sit down and take the time and concentrate if I want to really play something but things get better with exercise, right? Playing an instrument is very relaxing to most people and a great hobby to have. It activates parts of the brain we don’t usually use and provides a relief for the rest. You can also pick pieces of music that are in line with your current mood or needs and this too has an instant positive effect. It can either totally relax you or pick you up when you’re feeling down. I truly feel lucky I have the option of having this as a hobby and I’m stocking up on festive sheet music in preparation for the holidays!
5. Taking a warm bath (or hot shower)
You have to clean up at some point anyway, right? So technically this is a must have that doubles as me time. With a few tweaks, it can also truly feel like indulging. A long warm bath would obviously be the best, but if you don’t have this option either because lack of time or lack of a bath, a shower can also be made quite decadent. For a bath, I would suggest some salts or a bath bomb, while a shower can feel more special by using a shower oil instead of a regular gel or by adding essential oils for some aromatherapy in the vicinity. Candles can be a great add-on either way.
For example try:
I know I suggested a shower oil but do try the Moroccanoil milk. It is truly a gift for the senses and will not disappoint you. It’s creamy and silky and the texture is fantastic. So is your skin when you’re done. Do I even have to mention the signature Moroccanoil scent?
As far as bath products go, bath bombs are my indulgence. Unlike most cosmetic products where I tend to stick with my favourites, bath bombs are something I like to try out. But still, Lush’s Twilight is one I still come back to from time to time because it never fails to deliver that magical feeling.
Preferably while cozying up on the couch with a cup of tea and hot cocoa. While reading on the beach has its perks, there is just something about the colder months that make reading a good book that much more special. If you need some ideas for reading material, check my monthly reading lists, such as the October reading list or the November reading list posts. As the list grows longer I will be sure to add a reading category for easier access.
While we’re at it, here’s a couple of tea suggestions:
These are two totally different teas but both create that coziness I associate so much with reading a good book curled up on the couch. The first one is a calming night tea, meant to drink just before bedtime. The second is black tea based and will help you stay awake with that page-turner of yours.
What about you? What do you do to relax, to unwind?
Please, let me know in the comments!