Flashback to pre-COVID and pre-anxiety attacks.
March and early April 2020.
The room reeked of the odeur de parfum, complements of Bath & Body Works. A tangy and sharp aroma of flowers and citrus. The only light visible in the room was coming from my small dimly lit candle and the crack between the door and the door frame, which let out a sliver of soft light.
There I was, lying in my usual spot on the futon. Both headphones in; wrapped under my heated blanket. Listening to whatever my mood called for.
Today it happened to be folk music.
I took this time to relax after thinking about school all day.
I let my mind wander and drift. But it stayed focused on one or two things in an attempt to flip and rotate each event so it could squeeze as much meaning and context out of each.
Other than the incessant chattering of my brain (which by this point, I’d gotten used to), it was peaceful. I was unwinding slowly, as goosebumps speckled my skin.
Absolute bliss. That’s exactly how I would describe it. My eyes started to close.
And then: “What are you doing?” I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes before I even opened them.
I looked up to see a face on the border of laughter. It was my brother. He’d opened the door and found me in a zen-like state and decided to interrupt me instead of, I DON’T KNOW, TAKING A HINT?
This should’ve come as no surprise. When he was home, there was no such thing as peace and quiet.
“I’m relaxing. This is my alone time,” I replied.
“Don’t you have alone time all day?”
I laughed at this, because it was clear he’d made a pretty solid point. I did have time alone all day when my family wasn’t here. My family always joked with me that I never came out of the office. It’s certainly, and unfortunately, not a totally untrue statement (but for the record, now I come out of my den much more than I used to).
Case and point: I can’t guarantee that you won’t get interrupted by one of your family members when you’re relaxing, but what I can give you are a few tips that may help you to create this type of atmosphere in the hopes that (maybe?) you’ll have a decent 15 minutes to spend by yourself.
Or is that wishful thinking?
I hope not, for your sake.
Tip 1: De-clutter Your Space
I cannot stress this enough. When you de-clutter your room or space, it can help dissipate feelings of stress. It can also help you clear your mind and relax.
Getting rid of things or at least stowing them away in the proper location or space can feel refreshing and cleansing, and you don’t have to take thirty minutes to do it either.
In fact, I’ve found it helpful to think about how long it would take me to put something away. If it takes me only two minutes or less – I might as well put it away then instead of waiting until later to watch the piles grow large.
Though, let’s make something clear here: I don’t always abide by this rule (come on, did you really think I could take my own suggestion?), which is why sometimes my room or office space ends up looking like a bunch or organized piles of items that have no home.
A literal work in progress, that’s what I like to call it.
Tip 2: Bring Houseplants into Your Space
Studies have shown that houseplants can reduce stress. They can purify the air and soak up all the toxins that you may not even realize you’re breathing in. Plus, taking care of plants indoors can almost feel like your gardening outside. Except you’re not outside, you’re indoors. I think you get my point though.
But, it just feels nice to take care of something besides yourself (ya dig?)
Tip 3: Light a Candle or Use an Aromatherapy Diffuser
Alright, the first part of this tip may be slightly controversial for some, because lightning or burning of anything is not good for the environment. I know this.
But, I have to say, a lit candle does something to me. It just makes me feel super relaxed and calm.
However, if you don’t like this idea then you can always turn toward an aromatherapy diffuser, which has also been noted to have the same effect for those struggling with anxiety or stress.
It has been said that each scent can help you in different ways:
- Lavender – relaxes you and can help prepare you for sleep
- Lemon – helps to improve your mood
- Orange – reduces your stress levels
- Peppermint – which helps keep your mind focused
These are just a few examples.
Tip 4: Opt for Soft Yellow Light
Lighting is key.
As we all know, blue light can mess with our circadian rhythm – which doesn’t help us if we’re looking to relax in the evening. That’s why it’s important to implement a soft yellow light if you’re looking to calm down.
I also even find that dimming the lights just a tad, or turning them off completely and relying on candlelight does the trick (refer to tip 3).
Tip 5: Color is Everything
Soft hues that correlate to what we see in nature will be more likely to help you unwind in comparison to a bold red. So make sure you choose a space that resembles the colors of nature.
If you don’t have a space that offers these colors, that’s not a big deal. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy paint and repaint your walls just to achieve relaxation.
Instead, refer to Tip 2 and try to bring some houseplants into your space.
Also, I’m a huge fan of recycling items. Get creative. See if you can take something old and make it into a piece of decor that you can put in your new relaxing space.
It’s always a good time to step away and take a break. Making sure your space gives you the opportunity to relax is extremely important.
For resources on how to create a relaxing space check out these pages: