Last week I did something I’ve never done before–something I don’t think I ever would have even considered, had my husband not suggested and encouraged it.
I went on a personal retreat.
For four whole days, I did nothing but read books, go for long walks and hikes, do yoga, take long baths and lay by the pool. I completely unplugged from work and literally retreated from the world.
It was nothing short of incredible, and it was a powerful reminder to me–someone who normally thrives on being busy–that sometimes rest is the most productive thing we can do.
And let’s face it–clutter and chaos are the opposite of restfulness. Not only do our homes become chaotic, but our schedules also get full of things we need to do, deal with, and take care of. Life can feel like an endless parade of carpooling, pickups and drop-offs for lessons and activities, and running errands all over the city, not to mention keeping up with all the obligations at work or school or church.
It’s no wonder we need a break once in a while!
While these days, many of us use tech to tune out, the reality is that screen time will never leave us feeling recharged and refreshed. Instead, it just makes us feel constantly connected and overloaded with information.
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Instead of going to Facebook or Pinterest, or playing a game of Candy Crush on your phone, why not try to find more restful ways to really relax? Taking a break from tech gives us a chance to recharge our own batteries and helps us feel more mindful and aware of our surroundings. This mindfulness leads to a sense of control and empowerment. Suddenly, you feel like you can “do the things!” when before you might have just felt like checking out.
Believe it or not, our mental “getaway” doesn’t need to be an elaborate vacation or expense escape. Here are fourteen simple ways to recharge your internal batteries—without breaking the bank.
1. Go for a Walk
Probably the simplest and most cost-free solution to relaxation is to slip on your shoes and go for a walk. Just get out there. Walk in rain, walk in the snow or walk in the sun. While walking with your kids or spouse can be lovely, sometimes it’s nice to just go for a walk by yourself (or take your dog).
When you go for a walk, it’s not about speed-walking, listening to loud music, or even trying to lose weight (although all of those things can be part of it too, if that’s what truly relaxes you). Instead, it’s about mindfulness, listening to the sounds around us, and enjoying the sites of the journey. Breathe in the fresh air and really notice what’s going on in your environment. Even a ten or fifteen minute walk can give you the boost you need.
2. Enjoy a Manicure or Pedicure
Of course we all love going to the salon and getting a mani/pedi, especially during the summer months. It can be such a boost to feel the salt scrub and to sit in the massage chair while someone else pampers you.
Even if you can’t afford the salon, you can still easily give yourself a little DIY mani/pedi boost at home. Pick a happy color that makes you feel energized and take some time to really give it your attention.
Soak your hands and feet in warm water, and use a stick to push your cuticles back. Use a scented lotion or coconut oil and work it into your hands and feet. Trim your nails and file them into shape. Then, use the polish to add a little shine and color. You can pamper yourself for literally pennies, and if you take the time to really concentrate on what you’re doing and make it special, it can feel just as great as a day at the salon.
3. Give Yourself Some “Spa Time”
Speaking of pampering yourself, have your ever treated yourself to a home spa treatment? Years ago I worked in a spa—and I loved it! It was so fun to see our clients come in all excited, then watch them get pampered and enjoy doing something nice for themselves. People are rarely sad at the salon. It’s a great way to boost your mood and brighten your day.
You can create that spa day feeling at home! Do something extra special for yourself—use an exfoliating salt scrub, and put on a fluffy robe. Light scented candles or use a diffuser and essential oils. Keep the lights turned down low, and use a mask or special skin treatment. Whiten your teeth with a little baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Give your hair a deep condition. I guarantee you will feel lifted!
4. Take a 20-Minute Nap
I’m not a huge napper, but the benefits of taking a nap during the day can boost concentration and improve your mood, especially if you’re a person who loves naps (or someone who just needs to get a better night’s sleep).
Take twenty minutes to cozy up somewhere comfortable and warm. Rather than just trying to catch some winks in a chair or on the couch, try to make your nap something really special. Turn the lights low, wrap up in a soft blanket, and even get a pillow out.
The idea is to make a nap seem like a special luxury and reward, rather than something you feel guilty for “sneaking in.” When you’re using a nap to recharge your batteries, make it a treat.
5. Get a Little Exercise
If you’re someone who enjoys exercise, get your endorphins going to keep you feeling charged up and ready to take on the world. Exercise keeps your heart healthy and can help boost your mood and keep your emotions in check. If you struggle from anxiety or depression, exercise is a natural solution.
You don’t have to belong to an expensive gym or health club. Simply put in a DVD or look for exercise videos on YouTube. If you’re committed to going tech-free, lace up your sneakers and go for a walk or run. If all else fails, turn on some music and dance around your living room. It’s about getting your heart pumping and your mood-boosting endorphins going. You’ll feel the energy.
Adult coloring books are all the rage these days. Using pencils or crayons to fill in repeating designs can be just as soothing and relaxing for adults as it is for kids.
You don’t need to buy an expensive book to participate in the coloring trend. There are tons of drawings you can print off online, or go ahead and sneak a page from your kids’ coloring book. You can even try looking through your own bookshelf. Many books feature simple line-drawn illustrations.
Taking colored pencils to a piece of paper and illustrating color variations from light to dark, or creating a simple drawing of trees or flowers can make you feel calm and refreshed.
7. Read a Book
While I love my Kindle as much as the next gal, try to take a break from technology and try opening a good old-fashioned book. Pick something light and relaxing to read, like a biography or fiction.
If you aren’t a big reader, skim through a magazine or page through a cookbook for fun ideas. (No frantic searching for a dinner recipe to stress about tonight!)
8. Work in Your Garden
Whether you have a true green thumb or just a brownish-green one, everyone can enjoy getting outdoors and getting our hands a little dirty! Try planting some veggies or lettuce in a planter or pot. If you have existing flowerbeds, weed and rake the dirt surrounding the plants.
When you’re working in your garden, be mindful of the world around you. Notice the smells and feelings you experience in the dirt and grass. Feel the breeze and the sun as it hits the back of your neck. Let the process become a sensory experience to ensure it’s much more relaxing than just “weeding the garden.”
9. Bake Bread
I LOVE LOVE LOVE homemade bread. A good crusty loaf, a soft loaf, beer bread—there’s really nothing better than delicious, fresh bread. Try making a loaf of easy yeast bread or rolls. The very act of kneading the dough, letting it rise, and creating something your whole family can enjoy is very therapeutic.
If yeast bread isn’t your favorite, try making a quick bread like banana, zucchini, pumpkin or carrot. Even if you’d rather not have it in the house, it makes for a great gift for neighbors, and you’ll double the recharge effect by doing something nice for someone else.
10. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are a big part of my life and my family. They’re amazingly useful when it comes to staying healthy. They smell amazing and they can be used in so many applications—from healthy cleaning solutions to diffusion for all sorts of benefits.
Try using lavender to relax, peppermint to energize, or orange to awaken and refresh. You can use the oils topically, so try putting a few drops on a cotton ball or tissue to give you a little boost during the day.
11. Call a Friend
Very few things in the world can recharge our batteries like a conversation with a good friend. Don’t make it a complaint session or even a chance to “vent.” Instead, try reframing your approach to the conversation and make it about uplifting the both of you and truly connecting.
Listen to your friend and talk about the things important to both of you. Make plans for the future and exchange funny or inspirational stories. Sometimes a quick call is all you need to reset your mood and feel renewed.
At the times in my life when I’ve most struggled, I’ve found that writing things out can be immensely helpful, and yes—even energizing. Some of us might not be traditional “journalers,” but jotting down your thoughts, lists, plans and memories in a notebook can help get it off your plate and out of your brain.
If you find you need a chance to reset and recharge your batteries, explore your “whys” in your writing. What’s making you feel drained and what can you do to make yourself feel better? Write it out and you might be surprised at the results.
13. Take a Bath or Shower
It’s amazing what a nice bath or shower can do to reset your levels and get you going. If you really need a recharge, use a soothing shower gel and the “nice” conditioner and shampoo—and go all out. If you like, put on some music or nature sounds to make your shower an experience.
If you prefer a bath, light candles and break out the Epsom salts and bubble bath, of course. Try something with an invigorating citrus scent to wake you up and give you a boost of energy.
There’s no better way to recharge your batteries than to think of a way to give to those around you. It doesn’t need to be a grand donation to charity and you don’t need to build an entire Habitat for Humanity house (though both are great ideas). For an easy mood lifter, try simply doing something nice for someone close to you or committing a random act of kindness.
Pay for the next guy in line at Starbucks. Drop off cookies or that zucchini bread to a neighbor. Fix a favorite meal for your kids or spouse. The idea is to do it with intention, awareness and joy.
Recharging your batteries doesn’t need to be an expensive process, and it shouldn’t require you to do something time consuming and out of the ordinary. Pick a simple activity that makes you feel good, and put away your cell phone and technology so you can really enjoy and savor the moment!