How to really relax
The other night, I meant to chill on the couch with a book. First, though, I decided to neaten up the family room. On a roll, I then tackled a pile of mail on the kitchen counter. When I went to grab a paper clip, I noticed our junk drawer was a disaster, so I organized that. An hour and a half later, I felt content to see everything in its place…and too zonked to read.
I relax just fine when I’m away on vacation, but in daily life, my to-dos come first. “In our work-driven culture, we perceive relaxation as nonproductive—it often becomes a reward for getting stuff done,” says Kathleen Hall, PhD, founder and CEO of the Stress Institute in Atlanta and the Mindful Living Network. Trouble is, the tasks are never-ending (hashtag Sisyphus). Add in a jam-packed schedule and it’s no wonder leisure time morphs into chore time.
Yet kicking back is hardly an unproductive activity; experts say that it keeps us healthy and happy. And research shows that regular de-stressing can help ward off heart disease and obesity, act as a buffer against depression, and even boost immunity against colds. Plus, when you’re calm, you perform tasks smarter and more efficiently, leaving you with time to—wait for it—relax. Check out these strategies and inspiration for R in R: relaxing in reality.