Whenever I hear the song, “I Know a Place, I’ll Take You There,” by the marvelous Mavis Staples and her Sisters, I think of the Pacific Northwest. In my mind it is summertime with ferns and lush greenery along the trail that calms the heat. Breathtaking beauty in North Cascades National Park, referred to as America’s Alps. A surprise waterfall lies deep inside—the only tropical forest in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you close your eyes, you probably can think of a beautiful place that does the same for you. Then you can move forward to imagine positive experiences in your life that brought you joy and the people you hold in your heart. Carry the warmth of those experiences with you to ease your current stress.
When my imagination leads me to the Pacific Northwest, I relax. While you struggle to balance work at home, or no work, family time, at-home school time, and personal time, find a few restful seconds to calm your mind. Give yourself a break from negative thoughts, particularly before bedtime, so you can ease into a peaceful sleep.
Simple Relaxation—Apply Heat and Mix it Up
Turns out hot chocolate does not just hit the spot—it too soothes as it goes down (as long as it doesn’t impact your sleep). Same for coffee and tea. And more people are taking more showers now because steam can help reduce anxiety, but that might not be the reason people give for more time in the shower.
After the heat has taken the edge off, pull out the colored pencils or watercolors from the closet and colorize your imagination on velum or even copy paper. Do not second guess or judge your work. This art’s for you. Tame your inner critic.
Take your indoor plants outside in the spring sunshine or select a flowering plant to come in with you. Sit outside to pull in Vitamin D. Researchers have found that Covid-19 does not survive on the surface of tables and chairs outside in sunshine, so enjoy soaking this up. It’s understood to help improve our immunity function, too. (with sunscreen, of course!)
You can sing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” or the show tune of your choice. While you are in a musical mood, make your own musical instruments (if children or grandchildren are within range, they will enjoy doing this). Pots and pans and spoons are simple and work with most any tempo. If that is too loud for you, find jars or oats containers with lids. Fill them with any dried beans or dried rice from the cupboard. You have your own maracas and serve Tex-Mex.
Gain focus to organize your thoughts through meditation. Just ten minutes in the morning can get you started and refreshed for the day. If this is new to you, an app can help: Calm has been downloaded millions of times. It isn’t free after the initial period, but there are several more meditation apps to choose from, including Headspace, and 10% Happier. Then if you decide to attack clutter to further organize your life, or go deeper into your closet, halt and check in with Gretchen Rubin’s newly published Outer Order, Inner Calm.
Be Kind to Yourself
Whatever you decide to do or don’t do, practice self-compassion. Give yourself a break when you or others seem not to live up to your standards. Provide do-overs graciously. Then count three of your blessings each morning. Write them down. Pretty much guaranteed to raise your spirits.
If none of this appeals to you, pull straws to decide where you will go when you a) are free to; b) have the inclination; and c) have saved the money to visit. Course you could just pick from museums close to you. Just plan an event to occupy your imagination—give anxiety less room to play!
My neighbor, Mary Butler, a former school counselor who now advises people on health and calming techniques, assisted me with this blog.
”50 Ways to Stay SANE,” by Guy Dauncey, yesmagazine.org
Journey to the Future a Better World is Possible, Guy Dauncey
“Seven Ways of Self-Care,” Lura McArdle, February 12, 2020
“19 Secret Signs of Loneliness,” Madeline R. Van, reviewed by Justin Laube, MD June 12, 2018