A Recipe for Relaxation

by Barbara Jandu, AMFT

In my kitchen, I have a page torn from a magazine years ago that talks about the best way to create an excellent salad. The author recommended adding to your favourite greens the following: some type of fruit, some type of nut, and some type of cheese. It’s a recipe for salad success I’ve used time and time again.

In her book Burnout, author Emily Nagoski recommends several ways to complete the stress cycle so that a body doesn’t end up frazzled and frustrated. Laughing, crying, or doing things that are creative can all lend themselves toward closing the cycle of stress.

Between these two ideas (completing the stress cycle and creating the perfect salad), it got me thinking: What if we could create a recipe for a self-care plan that was sustainable for the long-haul? Perhaps it would look something like this:

  1. Start with Spirituality:

Whether it’s a morning prayer or an evening reading plan, find a daily practice that connects you with God and allows you to touch base with what’s important to you. And of course, I can’t recommend mindfulness meditation enough! See my blog entitled Mindful Matters for more details.

  • Embrace What’s Energizing:

What’s most rejuvenating to you? What brings you joy? Is it a particular hobby or volunteer project? Perhaps it’s spending time with certain people or in a particular place.

  • Add Activity:

This could be anything from walking to windsurfing, from running to rowing, from yoga to yodeling (okay, maybe not yodeling, but you get the idea).  Move your body!

  • Cap It Off with Creativity:

You may enjoy cooking or crafts, poetry or painting, making music or merely puttering in your garage with a handy DIY project. Whatever you choose, allow yourself some space to enjoy the process. When you become fully immersed in a creative activity, it allows your mind to get into a state of ‘flow’. Some refer to this as being ‘in the zone’ or ‘in the pocket’ – it’s a space where you lose track of time, focused exclusively on the pleasurable task at hand, and it’s really healthy for your brain and body.

Putting It All Together

Try to choose something from each category every week that doesn’t feel like a chore and is affordable enough to be sustainable. Of course, feel free to add in special treats every now and then (like a massage or a trip) to keep things interesting. But remember, the goal is consistent rest and rejuvenation.

If it’s too expensive or too complicated, we’re less likely to continue a self-care practice. But if we can find affordable ways to ‘refill our own teapot’, then we can create a self-care plan that will go the distance.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

~Matthew 11:28

Photo credit: Becca Tapert on Unsplash

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