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One Healthy Change: Relax

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Relaxing at the end of the road

Whenever I’m on a true vacation—whether it’s visiting my mom, taking a long cruise or enjoying the natural setting at a wildlife lodge—I find myself wanting to sleep a lot, especially when there is little connectivity to the internet. Do I have some type of sleeping sickness? No. Without constant interaction and distractions, my body is allowing itself to relax and, for me, that means catching up on lost sleep.

I bet you can guess what’s coming next. You’re right. With holiday stress right around the corner, learning to relax is the perfect December topic for our One Healthy Change a Month series.

Did you notice that I wrote “learning” to relax. Shouldn’t we instinctively know how to do that? You would think so. But my experience says otherwise. As I multi-task more and more, I relax less and less. I don’t know about you but I’m having a hard time turning my mind off at night when it’s time to sleep. And that’s not healthy.

According to Lifehacker, relaxation is the key to productivitywhich is good to know for those of us wanting to accomplish more during the day. But what about our health? An article in Time reminds us that relaxing is good for our genes. Who knew? And Mayo Clinic published a list of how our body benefits when we relax that includes lowering blood pressure and reducing muscle tension and chronic pain.

That same Mayo Clinic article lists meditation as a key way to relax. Ugh. I’ve tried. Dear mediation, “I’m just not into you.” Health writer Sheryl Kraft has the same issues with meditation. In her article I Can’t Meditate Buy I Can Still Relax, she advocates turning off the sound/ringer to your computer or cell phone, getting outside, driving in silence and exercising as meditation.

How I relax:

  • Take a nap. Can’t go to sleep? Set your cell phone timer for 20 minutes, close your eyes and rest.
  • Soak in a bubble bath. Hey, if you’re a boomer guy who enjoys them, we won’t tell.
  • Sit in a whirlpool or sauna.
  • Participate in a hobby that you find relaxing. Playing piano works for me.
  • Read a book.

What does this have to do with travel? You can use all of these techniques on the road and they just might alleviate stress from a trip that hasn’t gone quite right.

So here’s your homework: Pick a relaxation technique that works for you and schedule 30 minutes to practice it on a daily basis. Be sure to let me know how you do.

It’s not too late to join our challenge. Click One Healthy Change a Month to read more.

How do you relax? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email with your comments or questions.

And one more question: the One Healthy Change a Month series was intended to run from January through December of 2013. Should I keep it going? Is it helping you make healthy changes in your life?

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