100 days to be happy: Catch up – My Top Ten ways to relax.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting my happy reasons recently… well, doing this sort of kick-started my writing and I’ve managed to write two and a half chapters so far! So I’m really rather happy…

Anyway.

I thought today I’d catchup a bit by doing a sort of summary post… in the form of a Top Ten List:

My Top Ten ways to relax.

1) Breathe.
On of the things that happens when you are stressed is that you take shallow breaths, so the best thing you can do to relax is to take some deep breaths. Try my Breathing Exercise from my earlier post on Breathing.

2) Close Your Eyes.
Shut your eyes and you shut out the world. Yes, your hearing intensifies, but by shutting your eyes you put your body into that “pre sleep” state and it automatically relaxes. Just don’t keep them shut for too long or you might doze off…

3)  Listen to the Wind.
Find a quiet place and listen to the wind and everything it carries with it. Try naming the things you can hear. Don’t think about anything else.

4) Read a Print book.
There’s one thing that Print books have that e-books don’t. It usually occurs with older print books; that wonderful relaxing smell that reminds you of trips to the library as a kid…

“Scientists say that “old book smell” is more than just mustiness; it contains hints of grass and vanilla.  That’s because all the compounds used to make the book release distinctive odors as they break down. For example, lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper, is closely related to vanillin. As it breaks down, the lignin grants old books that faint vanilla scent.”
– Taken from ILAB website.

 

5) Listen to Japanese Music.
There is something ethereal about Japanese Music. Maybe it comes from the unfamiliar instruments they use or the inspiration of their beautiful islands, I don’t know, but listening to it can be very  relaxing.

Here’s a taster:

 

6) Go for a Walk.
Gentle exercise can be strangely relaxing. In fact there’s a type of meditation that relies on walking. You just focus on what your body is doing and forget about anything else. Sadly this doesn’t work if you have children with you…

7) Play.
This is fairly simple actually. Just let go of all those stifling adult inhibitions and play. It doesn’t matter what. Have a tickle fight with your partner, throw water balloons at each other on a hot day, play tag, find a playground and go on the swings, build a sandcastle on the beach… enjoy yourself. Who cares what it looks like.

8) Sex.
This tends to be something that falls by the wayside when you have kids. You’re tired all the time, they keep interrupting those loving moments with your partner and you can’t catch a break… so when you do manage it, it can be incredibly relaxing!

9) Stretch out those muscles.
I’m not talking about a full blown yoga session or a session down the gym (although those will work too), I’m talking about standing up from your chair and stretching. Just soft gentle stretches to the ceiling and floor, maybe some leg lunges to lengthen the calf muscles and ease the upper leg a little.
For some strange reason stretching the body out also relaxes it!

10) Get a decent amount of sleep.
I’m not just talking at night, although that helps. If you’ve been doing a lot of intense mental or physical work, or you’ve not had a good night’s sleep then having a nap can be incredibly refreshing.

Bonus Item:

You may notice that if you do #1,#2 & #5 all together,  you’ll probably end up doing #10 naturally. Do not fight this – if your body needs it, then it’s best to listen to it!

100 Days to be Happy: Escapism

My house is stuffed full of Escapism. Everything from books through DVD’s to console games.

fantasy-escapism

Just so we’re clear, here’s a definition from the Collins English Dictionary:

noun 1. An inclination to or habit of retreating from

unpleasant or unacceptable reality, as through
diversion or fantasy

This can be a good thing.
Why? Well, The Dragon’s Tower (my name for our house)  is too crowded for the number of people in it.
If you can’t physically escape people, mentally escaping is perfect:
I dive into one of my favourite books; NOS gets lost in the Pokemon worlds in several different ways; TOH becomes Batman, a Skylander or an Artist; PT embraces her inner fashion diva and creates outfits for her dolls. PW is too young yet to need to escape…
Recently, tempers and tension have been running high here.NOS is Aspergers and he’s having problems at school with the amount of noise and stuff going on around him. He’s been holding in his temper perfectly, doing his work and generally being a good student, even if he’s reading in class a little too much!

All of those stimuli have irritated and niggled at him every day. Peace is difficult to come by at School and tricky at home  – his sister insists on talking to him, when he’d prefer to have some down time.

Saturday, he almost blew up.  Unable to take his sister’s irritating singing, our requests to dry up the washing up and the lack of silence in the house generally, he came and talked to me.I could see how tense he was. No one should be so het up that your muscles strain against your bones. I talked him down. I let him tell me what the problem was and then gave him a solution to put into place the next time he felt it building up.  I taught him a meditation routine – breathing exercise and music, and explained how to use it in different situations.

He was fine after that, but then TOH blew up… figuratively speaking.

*sighs*

The Dragon’s Tower was thick with tension so strong that you could have used it to build a wall. It didn’t help my temper either. I blew up at him back. He escaped by taking his sketchbook down to the beach; I headed for our bedroom and shut the door.

Escape was essential at that point in time, and thus, I celebrate the fact that we have somewhere to escape to mentally most of the time. Without it, occasions like the weekend would crop up nine times out of ten.

When was the last time you escaped and where did you go? Physically or mentally?

100 Days to be Happy: Knitting

Knitting Crazy…

Well… okay maybe I’m not this crazy about knitting… but I do love it.

I don’t do it a lot – I tend to work on one project at a time, ever since I had nine different craft projects going on and didn’t finish any of them when I was meant to.

I’m working on a third jumper for Grandmother-in-law at the moment. I’m using a lovely cream dk yarn with green-brown flecks on cable needles and following a top down pattern from one of my favourite books. It’s going fairly well, despite the constant interruptions from PW (she likes to play with the yarn, very much like a kitten…) and I’m anticipating finishing it by September.

The reason I like knitting is that it relaxes me. When I have a lot of one stitch without too many shaping stitches or any cables to deal with, I can let my hands do the work and let my mind wander. It’s very meditative.

I’ve come up with a few story twists that way.

It also gives me something to do with my hands that doesn’t involve food – I put on a lot of weight when I’m baking a lot… *looks guilty*

All of this adds up to me feeling more relaxed, so when the kids start acting up (which is a lot) or I’m feeling anxious & upset about something, knitting soothes me and allows me to deal with it calmly.

I can’t do long periods of knitting though. I have Carpel Tunnel and the repetitive motion of knitting makes my hands ache and go numb if I do it for too long, so I tend to alternate between knitting and writing.

So that’s Day #5… Knitting. If you’ll excuse me, I’d rather like to get another couple of rows done on the yoke shaping…