[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Sometime around 3 or 4 o’clock on Sundays, the dread creeps in. I love what I do in the Real World, but I almost always wish I could extend the weekend. By a weekend or two. This evening, however, I feel primed and ready to take on a new week, the first full one of the year. Why? Welp, our condo is spotless after Nick and I rolled up our proverbial sleeves and did some serious cleaning, took two trips to the storage unit, and packed up three full bags of clothes and shoes to donate.
With nary a dust bunny in sight, I was able to totally relax. Dude. Some of my favorite relaxation rituals are (nearly) free, take but as little or as much time as I’d like, and can be done almost anywhere. I find completing one or two of these rituals puts me in a (slightly) less harried state as the weekend winds down.
In some particular order, I’m sure, my relaxation rituals:
1. Light a candle. Preferably one that smells so good you forget your name. And whenever possible, place that candle next to a vase of simply arranged pink and purple roses.
Tina hosted a bloggers’ Secret Santa, and I was lucky enough to receive this Tahitian vanilla candle (along with some fabulous other goodies) from Jennifer at a Knack for Nutrition. The scent is perfect for warming up a snowy day in Boston. Thanks, Jennifer and Tina!
2. Go for a walk. Or a run. Or a Sunday drive.
Move slowly. Notice the beauty around you (and yes, that is an exposed nipple… and no, that’s not really what I was referring to…). This practice often reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, not the least of which is living in this incredible city and having a place within its bounds to call home.
During our long training runs each weekend, I’ve seen– like, really noticed– more than I have in years of living in and around Boston. I’ve spent a lot of time on the roads alone (there really isn’t anyone running at my pace, that is to say, there are no snails or tortoises on our team), but I have come to value and enjoy that solitude. Walking, running or strolling with friends (or furballs) is good, too, though.
3. Speaking of furballs, playing with my dog always takes my blood pressure down a notch on a Sunday evening.
It’s a fact: Pets help reduce stress. Plus, they give you a valid excuse to lurk at the dog park, make excessive purchases from the Martha Stewart Pets line at Pet Smart, and walk around with an extra roll of poop bags in your purse. If you don’t have a furry friend of your own, I am renting out Clark by the half hour. Price: 1 bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Or, you could always volunteer at a local shelter. I’ve heard doing good deeds also helps you relax. Plus, you get to brag about being a humanitarian.
4. Plan ahead.
This year (all two days of it, so far), I am making a concerted effort to cut back on running around like a coo-coo clock each morning, looking for my keys, my sports bra, the lunch I never actually made, six Diet Cokes, and my lip gloss. Packing my bag(s) the night before might be old school (specifically, middle school), but it works.
If you’re worried you might forget your bright red squid thing, heck! Leave that by the door, too.
For me, planning ahead also means creating lists so long I make Tolstoy look like a man of few words. Writing out tomorrow’s To Do list the night before helps me to get focused as soon as I get to my desk in the morning, and ensures that I forgot about only 60% of what I intended to accomplish. My life is a very precise operation.
Another planning obsession? My FitBook. That little wonder helps me plan out both workouts and meals, and is a great tool for tracking goals and establishing incentives. I am hoping to get better at planning meals, and the wipe-off planner Jennifer sent will surely help with that. Do you think she read my mind?
5. And that brings us to my next, and possibly most sacred Sunday night ritual: Reading.
And I don’t mean reading celebrity gossip, or my own blog (though I do totally do that… and laugh both at and with myself. True Life: I am a complete loser). Sometimes I’ll pick up whichever of the six novels I am currently reading, but nearly every evening I thumb through the books and cards above.
- Sacred Space is sort of like a daily devotional written by the Irish Jesuits (the only person better than a Jesuit is an Irish Jesuit, I’m pretty sure). Each books includes weekly intentions– something to think and pray about, the daily Gospel, and reflection questions. It’s totally my jam.
- Keel’s Simple Diary is great for keeping a daily journal, when you don’t have the time or brain power, let alone actual life excitement, to sit down and bang out a full “Dear Diary” entry. Each page offers a few simple questions– some totally bizarre, some not– and the opportunity to record the high and low points of your day.
- Louise Hay’s Power Thought Cards first struck me as touchy feeley mumbo jumbo, and they sort of are, and that’s pretty much totally okay. Because I think that’s how they were intended to be. Each of the 64 cards offers a thought, mantra or meditation. More often than not, the card I draw leaves me feeling uplifted and empowered. And then I have dreams about Harry Potter’s owl delivering mail to one of the trippy, quirky painted figures on the cards. Maybe I should start reading these in the morning instead. Just a thought.
- Macrina Wiederkehr’s Seven Sacred Pauses draws on the Benedictine tradition of honoring “the hours.” This little book features prayers from people of all faiths, to be considered at seven different points during the day: the night watch, the awakening hour, the blessing hour, the hour of illumination, the wisdom hour, the twilight hour, and the great silence. So far, I’ve only barely mastered the twilight hour. And it has nothing to do with vampire novels, by the way. Here’s one of my favorite passages:
A soul flare is what happens when someone shines [his or her] light no matter what it is. In a song, a smile, or a well-made soup; they send out a flare of light that inspires others to shine their own. Soul flares make this world better. –Annie O’Shaughnessy
Most of my soul flares end up as burnt out Christmas bulbs. You know, the ones that ruin the whole tree? Welp, better to keep trying than give up, I suppose. ;)
6. And last, but certainly not least, to relax on a Sunday evening, I pour myself a cup of tea.
From my new turquoise tea kettle to this ol’ tea cup I found on Etsy, few things can top this quiet moment. Sometimes even a cup of hot water does it, like when I am feeling especially
lazy minimalistic. It’s all about the ritual, dudes and dudettes.
Also On Tap for Today:
- Check out some of these great Secret Santa packages from other participants
- For your own tea ritual: New Year’s Nourishing Herbal Tea
- Plan your walk, run or stroll
How do you get your game face on for the week? What are your favorite rituals?