Surprising and Surefire Ways To Chill-Out


I have a friend who swears that plucking her eyebrows is an instant relaxer. The concentration and precision it requires takes her mind off her worries and the end result puts her in the chill-out zone.

In honor of National Relaxation Day, my friend’s unusual technique inspired me to put out an APB to other friends. “Do you have any weird or unconventional ways of relaxing?” I wasn’t interested in the usual suspects: Gently swaying in a hammock under a palm tree on a beach, lying in savasana at the end of a yoga class, or “wine-ding” down with a cool glass of Pinot Grigio.

Well, it turns out that my friends all know how to relax, but they use not-so strange methods. Now, it’s your turn. Help us celebrate National Relaxation Day (August 15th) by posting on our FB page the oddest thing you’ve done to relax. (Plus, check out the video above for 5 surprising ways to relax!)

For others of us who still dream of swaying in a hammock on a beach, check out these tried-and-true ways to leave it all behind.

How To Get In The Chill Zone?

Science says yoga, mindfulness meditation, and deep breathing are proven paths to full relaxation. These activities trigger the “relaxation response,” the mechanism in your body that activates the parasympathetic nervous system and lowers heart rate and blood pressure, disarms stress hormones, spikes concentration, and pumps more oxygen to muscles.

But maybe you find yoga boring. Or you feel self-conscious or pretentious meditating. Not to worry, say the experts. Anything that calms your mind, focuses your concentration, and keeps you fully in the moment will put you in the healthy “chill” zone.

i- Listen to Soothing Sounds

Studies have shown that sound therapy can ease anxiety in patients with serious illness. No surprise then that it works for healthy people, too. “I get gonged at the Conduit Center, an amazing place for sound meditation. They create an ethereal, restful space with a concert of gongs and singing bowls that totally transports me to deep relaxation,” says Jessica N., of Chester, Connecticut.

The gentle sound of waves or rippling water is often used in relaxation therapy, which is probably why the real deal works for Mary Alice M., of Sand Lake, Wisconsin. “I tried yoga for the first time the other day, and although I’m sure there’s a learning/limbering curve, I’ll take kayaking most any day over that!!” 

ii- Recharge Your Soul with Nature

Urban environments are no match for natural ones when it comes to restoring wellness and improving concentration. Nature wins every time. Even yard work beats office work for Amy S., of Westport, CT. “I cut limbs, prune, weed, and haul dirt to relax from a hard week in the office,” she says. Nature is what unwinds Nona H. of Seattle, Washington. She and her husband take off in their R.V. to the beach or mountains as often as possible. “Smelling, hearing, and seeing nature recharges our souls.”

iii- Cruise On an Open Road

Bumper-to-bumper traffic is never blissful, but for some, cruising an empty strip of highway leads to nirvana. “Being alone in a car is strangely relaxing,” admits Ann L., of Long Island, NY. For Abby E. of New York City, the open skies help her chill out. “You know where I relax usually? On a plane! I bring all my old magazines and just kick back. Or I sleep.”

iv- Create a Healthy Living Space

Flexing creative muscles de-stresses Elizabeth C. of New York City. “Rearranging furniture (being creative with space) can be relaxing, especially living in a tiny apartment.”

v- Indulge in “Alone Time”

Some of us dread being alone while others crave it. “Having the house to myself lets me work on things without interruption. Or I read, drift, listen to recordings. Sometimes I drift too far and have to reel myself back in. But it’s always relaxing,” says Kerstin H., of Somerset, New Jersey.

vi- Chill With Your Pet

Dozens of studies back up the notion that pets help their owners relax. Laura D. of San Francisco knows from personal experience. “My cat Murphy used to get on my chest, knead me, and purr like crazy and it was very relaxing!”

vii- Get a Hobby

Instead of binge-watching television (by the way, experts say TV overstimulates the brain), spend time on your hobbies. That works for Anne W. of San Francisco. “I search thrift shops for espresso machines and interesting plates.” Ditto for Tina L. of Tempe, Arizona, who says bustin’ out some samba or Afrobrazilian moves puts her in chill mode. For Abby E., it’s playing the cello. “It calms me down and I do feel good that I am marginally improving.”

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