Tag Archives: relaxation

5 Minutes to Relaxation

I have a hard time relaxing. Even when I sleep, I stay tensed up in my neck and shoulders. How do I know that? Because I wake up with killer tension headaches. :C

I don’t think I’m the only one who suffers from chronic tension. In fact, I’d wager that many of us walk around with so much everyday tension that we’ve honestly forgotten it’s there. This tension is not only painful (mentally and physically), it eventually eats at our health. I’ve seen my father suffer the effects of long-term stress, with chest pains, swollen legs and feet, breathlessness, and painful joints; I don’t want to end up in constant pain like he has.

Why Traditional Methods of Relieving Stress Don’t Always Work

I don’t know about y’all, but I find traditional methods of stress relief to be BO-RING. Meditation is great; meditation works for some people. For me, it’s 10-15 minutes of letting my brain run absolutely amok–it will not shut up, and it requires something else to focus on besides my guilt and worries. Meditation, for me, causes more tension than it relieves because I am alone with my thoughts…and that’s not a good thing.

Writing things down sorta-kinda works for me, except for the fact that handwriting takes soooo veryyyy lonnnggg when I’m used to typing almost as fast as I can think. In this case, my frustration with the medium (pen and paper) stop me from relaxing, because I hate the slow pace of my handwriting. (I definitely don’t think I’m alone in that, LOL.) I wish I could write faster, but as my hand cramps very badly from long years of not using my handwriting, I end up scripting words at a snail’s pace, often making stupid and obvious spelling mistakes because my brain is light-years ahead of my pen. (One more frustration!)

The 5-Minute Methods that Work for Me

  • Focused, deep breathing.

    Yes, I know, this sounds weird. Why would deep breathing work for me and not meditation?

    I think it’s because deep breathing forces me to focus on a task (breathing in so deeply that my belly expands, and then letting it out through pursed lips). With something concrete and simple to focus on, my brain momentarily pushes away all the other junk that would normally be clouding my thoughts.

  • Tensing and relaxing muscles.

    I read this in an old-as-grass health book back in middle school, and I’ve used it to good effect since then. Basically, you lie in bed, and squinch all your muscles up as tightly as you can for at least 30 seconds. Then, starting with your feet and legs, relax all the muscles, moving up through your body until you’ve relaxed everything.

    This always leaves me feeling pleasantly warm and relaxed, as if I’d had a brief massage…and it makes you realize just how much tension you’ve already been carrying around!

  • Rural driving at dusk.

    For me, driving on an unhurried evening with a beautiful vista surrounding me (and very few cars around) is very, very relaxing. You would think driving would tense me up, but in fact, moving through the landscape at 35-45 mph, watching the shadows slowly lengthen and the colors slowly change toward night, is quite lovely. Now, I do need a rural setting for this–having to deal with sudden brake lights ahead of me and annoying tailgaters behind me isn’t relaxing at all–but if I can find me a nice, empty road to drive on, it works.

  • Eating pasta–any kind.

    Fettuccine alfredo? Oh yeah, I’m there. 3-minute mac’n’cheese heated up in the microwave, with a little garlic powder added to taste? Sure, bring it on!

    No matter the price point, pasta always relaxes me. Perhaps it’s the heaviness of the meal or the fact that it feels so good to eat something so non-diet…but it’s definitely “comfort food.” 😀

  • Turning a fan on and wrapping up in a blanket.

    Sounds counterintuitive, but for some reason, feeling a breeze on my face while being otherwise snuggled up is relaxing for me. It’s just cool enough that I can unwind, but I’m not tensed up and freezing my fat off.

  • Smelling lavender and/or vanilla scents.

    This has been scientifically studied and proven over the last century–these two fragrances are most calming and stress-relieving. I scoffed at this until I started cooking with vanilla extract one day and found myself in a much better mood, despite having to deal with some iffy burners and an almost-epic-fail or two on the stove. Since then, I have begun using vanilla and lavender around my home to subtly affect the air, and combined with a good movie, a warm blanket, and a full tummy, this sends me into relaxed sleep in no time.

    Vanilla and lavender both are pleasant scents and are easy to come by in body fragrance, home scents, and even in cleaning products, as the Essential Oil Use Chart for Cleaning will attest.

    Other links for learning more about these scents:
    Vanilla and Aromatherapy
    The Sensational Power of Scent
    Uncommon Scents Love Nose Best

How Do YOU Relax?

In the end, these ideas of mine are simply that–ideas, presented as options for you. If you find that these work for you like they have worked for me, then that’s wonderful. But if they don’t, you might just need a little more research into what might relax you most. It took me years to find these tricks…yours might be hiding and waiting to be discovered, too!

Boomshine

This relaxing and yet mentally stimulating game is based on chain reactions–you try to set down your beginning dot in a place where it will ripple out and catch the most dots in its ripples. It is deceptively easy at first, with its soft piano accompaniment and simple goals. Just wait ’til level 12. 😀

Basic Gameplay


Level 2: The goal is to get 2 dots. Your goal number of dots is always in the bottom left part of the screen; there are currently 10 floating around in this level, hence the words “from 10”. For each level, you click a spot on the screen; the mouse cursor in this shot is the clearish dot with the pale halo around it.

Once you click, a white dot will expand out from where you clicked for a few seconds, and any dot that comes close enough to touch the white dot will expand out as well, showing that it’s been activated.


Here, I clicked close enough to 2 dots to get my goal, and then a third knocked into the first two I got, making my total score “3 of 2”–basically, I got more than the requirement. This is normal.

When you have reached the goal for the level, the screen turns a paler shade of blue-green, and then closes out; thus, the reason for the screen color change in the screenshots.

The chain reaction continues until either the goal for the level is reached, or the last activated dot shrinks away into nothingness.

You have infinite tries at the game, but if you can do it in as few rounds as possible (minimum 12 rounds), you’ll have a better score at the end.

Strategy

Boomshine is a patience game more than anything. I’ve found it requires a sense of timing and observation–you observe where the dots on the screen are bouncing around, and try to time your click to when the most dots possible will be intersecting with the dot you are about to place.

Do not feel compelled to click within the first five seconds–there is no time penalty! You’ll actually waste more time if you keep clicking and not getting enough dots every time you try. Waiting for just the right time and place to put down your dot will help you achieve your goal faster, especially in the harder, later levels.

Have fun–this is a great “don’t worry, be happy” game, with great music and a fun, simple interface!

Play the Game: Boomshine