How To Really Relax - Without Going to a Spa

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  • By Robin Westen

    In my dreams, I’m spending a week unwinding at a five-star spa. In reality, I’m lucky if I find the time to pamper myself with hand cream. But according to experts, we don’t need to fork out the big bucks or schedule in long retreat time to reap the beauty benefits of deep relaxation and rejuvenation. (And let’s not forget the health benefits of lowered stress levels and increased levels of feel-good hormones.) There are simple ways to do it:
  • Make Time First things first, you’ve got to plan a self-soothing home retreat. The best way to do it? Put it on your calendar in ink. But that’s where the planning stops. When the day arrives, there are no chores or responsibilities allowed. If you wake up and feel like catching a few more zzz’s, then stay in bed. If you feel like taking in a matinee, reading a novel, lounging on the couch, hugging your pets, or watching every episode of House, that’s your choice!
  • Do-It-Yourself Massage Can't afford your dream massage? Put two tennis balls in a tube sock, and while still in bed, place it under your lower back. Position the balls on each side of your spine. Next, with a slow, continuous movement, roll your body back and forth. As the tennis balls knead your muscles, you’ll get a deep tissue massage.
  • Mindfully Meditate What? No time to sit on a cushion and chant “Ommm” for fifteen minutes? No problem. You can practice moment-to moment awareness to quiet your mind and relax your body no matter what you’re doing – showering, scrubbing potatoes, or just waiting for traffic to move. All you need do is to remind yourself to really tune into what you’re experiencing – the sounds, smells, textures.
  • Keep Your Chin Up Gently massage the muscles along your jaw line, under your ears, in a circular motion. This will relax the jaw, where people often hold tension.
  • Do Good Deeds According to studies, any act of kindness towards will bump up your feel-good endorphins. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Let someone ahead of you on line, hold an elevator door, pass along free tickets or coupons, or give your neighbor a ride.
  • Have a Small Snooze Take one in the mid-afternoon, but be careful not to overdo it. Limit your nap to 20 or 30 minutes. If you over-snooze you could end up losing precious night sleep.
  • Hug Yourself Bend your knees, bring them to your chest and hug them close to your body with your arms. Hold the pose for 20 to 50 seconds, then release and repeat. This stretch relaxes all the muscles in your body.

    About the Author

    Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-written with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."