Why it’s okay to lay low sometimes
During these days of social distancing and isolation, we hope you’ll also take the time to actually just lay low at home for a while. Rather than always having a “must keep learning” mindset, we think there’s benefit in allowing ourselves time to relax.
Yes, it’s good to learn new things and get creative – for our brain, productivity and motivation. Inspiration is all around us and with the internet and social media, we have constant opportunities to try new things and watch as others do too.
However, these days also provide the perfect chance for us to make time to slow down. Whether we're working from home or still heading out to work, we all have one thing in common when the work day is done: we have to socially isolate ourselves from others to try to beat this thing together.
So, while this is a great chance to learn guitar like we’ve always wanted to or make the perfect sourdough bread starter, it’s important to remember that in addition to learning, it’s perfectly alright to book a few hours (or days) off to let loose and lay low at home.
Allow yourself to:
• Sleep in
• Wear PJs all day
• Ignore the dishes
• Eat what you want
• Book a few hours off
• Read books just for fun rather than to learn
• Unplug the technology or watch movies all day
• Take a long bath rather than declutter your closet
• Dance around the kitchen rather than trying to meal plan for the week
Why? Because sometimes it’s okay to simply lay low – and it’s actually good for our health (in doses). Here are a few reasons why it’s good to take it easy while we’re social distancing.
There are proven health benefits to relaxation
• Relaxing protects your heart – because stress has been proven to be bad for it
• Relaxing lowers your risk of catching a cold – chronic stress can double the risk of catching a cold!
• Relaxing boosts your memory – studies have shown that stress increases the amount of certain proteins in the brain that have been linked to memory loss
• Relaxing helps you make better decisions – when you’re under stress, you may not be thinking as clearly
How do you relax? It’s different for everyone. If you find you’re have trouble relaxing, let’s take a look at ways to enhance relaxation at home. It’ll make you feel better, we promise.
5 simple ways to relax in your apartment
So how can we reduce stress and enhance relaxation while we’re at home? Harvard Medical School reports that these simple relaxation techniques will lower stress levels:
1. Breath focus – take long, slow, deep breaths. As you breathe, gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations.
2. Body scan – after a few minutes of deep breathing, focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally release any physical tension you feel there.
3. Guided imagery – close your eyes, imagine soothing scenes, places or experiences in your mind, and focus on them to relax. Set a timer for 2 minutes to start if you’re having a hard time getting into it, and then increase the time as you practice this more. And it does take practice.
4. Mindfulness meditation – this means finding a comfortable spot in your apartment, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your attention to the present moment without allowing yourself to think about present, past or future issues.
5. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong – these physical activities combine breathing techniques and flowing movements, enhancing mental focus, flexibility and balance.
These relaxation techniques are more than doable in an apartment setting. Try them out on your balcony, in your living room or bedroom.
Another thing that lowers stress and enhances relaxation? Laughter! There’s no denying that we can actually feel lighter after a good belly laugh. Let’s dive into the health benefits of laughter and how you can achieve that deep, belly laugh while you’re at home – even when you’re on your own.
The benefits of laughter
TIME Magazine did a study on whether or not laughter actually has real health benefits. They teamed up with Dr. Lee Berk, who has studied the aftershocks of a good laugh for over three decades! Here’s what they found:
• Laughter can compare to proper diet and exercise when it comes to staying healthy and disease-free
• It shuts down the release of stress hormones like cortisol, triggering the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which has all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits
• Laughter has been linked to health benefits from lower levels of inflammation to improved blood flow
There are so many ways that laughter if good for us! Here are some other benefits.
Dr. Lee Berk’s research also found that you’re 30 times more likely to laugh around others than when you’re by yourself. So how do we promote laughter when we’re quarantined at home, alone?
How to have a good laugh, even while social distancing
Many of us are alone at home, trying to stay healthy and follow the rules of social distancing. But if it is true that it’s 30 times harder to have a laugh when we’re alone, how can we increase the chuckles coming to help us relax, improve our moods and reduce stress?
Here are some ways to have a good laugh:
• Connect with others virtually – play online games, watch a comedy together, have a no-smiling contest (this usually results in laughter) or just catch up, tell jokes and let loose.
o Here are some great ways to stay connected while staying home.
• Check out this list of the funniest shows of all time, sorted by popularity.
• Open TikTok – seriously, don’t knock it ‘til you try it (we’ve had some serious belly laughs on this app).
• Dance like nobody’s watching – because really, nobody is watching. This is another great way to release stress hormones, and if you get really goofy, you may just end up having a laugh or two.
o Another tip? Try to copy a dance from a movie. The harder it is, the better.
• Sing out loud – especially to songs that are out of your vocal range. High notes, low notes, crazy riffs and runs like Christina Aguilera would do, try it in front of a mirror! It’s fun to laugh at ourselves.
• Read a funny book – a great technology-free way to have a laugh. Check out this list of 50 of the funniest books ever written.
• Watch the best stand-up comedy specials on Netflix – this list compiled by Rotten Tomatoes will have you in stitches.
Take the time for you
Most importantly, whether you’re mindfully relaxing, laying low, or having a good laugh – do it for you.
Remember, if learning new things is something that makes you happy, go for it! At the same time, it’s good for your health to set aside a few hours once in a while to stop for a bit.
All of this to say, take the time to do nothing. Learn more about you for a change. Sit back, relax, and breathe deep. Because we’re all in this together.
How are you letting loose and relaxing? Let us know!