A Panera Bread® bakery-cafe may sometimes feel like the perfect oasis in a hectic world, but chances are, you can’t get to one every time you feel the need for some relaxation. So make your own oasis. “Quiet time is restorative, both physically and mentally,” says Cindy Edwards, a professor of psychology at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. “We are ultimately more productive when we’ve had time to clear the deck mentally and start refreshed.”2011-03-01
Looking for your own everyday oasis? Here are some ideas.
Have a cup of tea. Put your computer on sleep mode for 10 minutes and silence your phone. Then spend this time enjoying your favorite tea without distraction. Research shows that drinking tea has a calming effect, lowering your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Be a bookworm. Spend 15 guilt-free minutes reading a novel just for fun. Not into the best-seller list? Magazines do the trick, too.
Play with man’s best friend. If you don’t have a dog, borrow a friend’s and go for a walk. Scientists are discovering remarkable health benefits from simply petting a dog. For example, studies have found that in the presence of a pet dog, people show lower levels of stress.
Take up a craft. Knitting, crocheting, sewing, and quilting are hobbies worth exploring. “People who do needlework reap enormous benefits,” explains Susan Delphine Delaney, MD, a psychiatrist and author of Rx for Quilters: Stitcher-Friendly Advice for Every Body. “The simple repetitive tasks bring a wave of relaxation that moves through the whole body - heart rate and blood pressure drops.”
Dig in the dirt. Studies show that gardening is a soothing, calming activity that actually makes you happier. It’s all thanks to a microbe in the dirt that increases your levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Spend a few minutes weeding or planting, or start an indoor potted “garden” in your office or home.
Go outside. Find an oasis in your local park during a daily “green hour,” when you can take a leisurely walk, observe nature, and let your mind wander. Outdoor time reduces your levels of stress, sharpens concentration, and promotes creative problem solving. Don’t have enough time for this? Studies also show that the simple act of looking out of a window can give you a calming, energizing reprieve.
Suds up. Turn your bathroom into a retreat while you soak in some scented water or sing in the shower. “I’m more efficient and creative after a bath - coming up with solutions to problems or dreaming up new ideas,” says Jacquelyn Ramsey, a small business owner in New Jersey.
Visit a museum. Immerse yourself in a display of paintings. Even small towns often have a museum or a gallery - if there’s a college nearby, check out the art exhibits on campus. Studies show museum-goers report greater peace, tranquility, and relaxation after even a short visit.