Rest and Recovery throughout Your Day
Rest and recovery are vital parts of your health and wellness plan. You need time to relax. In fact, stress research indicates that success in managing stress isn’t based on our ability to endure, but rather our deliberate efforts to recover . There are two kinds of recovery: internal recovery and external recovery. External recovery includes the big things we do to get away from stress: meeting friends for a drink, getting a massage at the spa, going away for a long weekend, etc. Those external recovery strategies are great, but we also need daily doses of internal recovery, which are brief breaks, whether scheduled or unscheduled, in the midst of the day-to-day stress. Internal recovery can include physical strategies (like a brief mid-day walk), as well as emotional and psychological strategies (such as talking to a friend or taking a few minutes to read a book or just breathe quietly).
Today, I’d like to suggest a few simple strategies you can try as brief recovery strategies. You can try them when you need a few moments to recover from the day-to-day stressors of working life.
For a quick and relaxing snack, grab a tangerine. Turn off your technology and find a quiet space. Instead of rushing to eat your snack, take five minutes. Slowly and deliberately peel the tangerine. Historically, religious traditions have used spirals to induce calm, reflection, and relaxation. Think about rosary beads, mandalas, and circular labyrinths for walks. The roundness creates a pattern, facilitates calm, and supports relaxation. As you peel, instead of ripping off pieces, try to peel in a slow, deliberate spiral. Breathe slowly and calmly as you peel. Inhale the scent because citrus scents have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety .
When you are feeling rundown or worn-out, you may want to bundle up with a scarf around your neck, a blanket around your shoulders, and a warm mug of coffee, cocoa, or tea in your hands. The benefits are both physical and emotional: We subconsciously connect physical warmth with emotional warmth. A part of the brain called the insula activates in response to both physical and emotional warmth. Whether we get warm and comfy in the summer sun on the beach or from the kind touch or text of a loved one, the same part of the brain activates [3, 4].
A mind jar  is a fun, simple way to focus and quiet your mind. It’s a visual way to picture stress in the mind, and you can make one as a simple DIY craft. You can read about a great version of the mind jar in the children’s book, Moody Cow Meditates .
The clear water in the mind jar represents your mind at rest. This is the clear, calm state of your mind when you are centered, balanced, fully mindful, fully present, fully in control of who you are, where you are, and how you’re feeling. The various colors of sparkles and glitter that you put in represent your different thoughts and emotions: angry thoughts, fearful thoughts, and kind, happy thoughts. When the jar is closed and you shake and turn it upside down a few times, the water and sparkles form a tumultuous rush, like a hurricane. This is your mind as you’re rushing around in chaos to get the last chores done and get through traffic and deal with the commute. The sparkling jar reflects the blurring swirl of your busy, upset, whirling mind.
In a mind jar meditation, you swirl the jar and then put it down. Breathe in and out. Focus your gaze on the jar. Watch the sparkles begin to settle down to the bottom. Notice how as you stop shaking them, they begin to calm down. Notice how your mind, when you stop shaking it, can calm down too.
Pick Your Relaxation
You need relaxation and self-care on a daily basis. It can be simple: taking time to enjoy a ten-minute cup of hot herbal tea. A warm shower or bath before bed with a few essential oils. Fifteen minutes with a good book or some music you love. As with exercise, the best relaxation strategy is the one you will consistently do, and the best time for relaxation is the time you will consistently do it. Consistency matters. Remember to take good care of yourself.
Tomorrow, we’ll focus on the role of the last hour of your day in setting you up for a healthier, happier, more productive life.
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