Did you know that August 15 is National Relaxation Day? I didn’t until a few weeks ago, but you better believe that I’m going to take full advantage of this very important national holiday to indulge in some much-needed unwinding.
Instead of doing the same old “breathe deeply and take a nature walk” relaxation session that I usually do, I wanted to switch it up with something fresh but equally soothing.
In my quest to find something unique and interesting to do, I found several things I want to try! So, today I’m rounding up five of my favorite relaxation ideas to share with you.
1. Book Swap With a Friend
There’s something immediately comforting about holding a physical book in your hands to read. I love the ease and convenience of carrying an entire library on my phone and Kindle. Still, digital books will never completely replace the relaxing comfort of smelling the bookbinding glue and feeling the pages turn.
It doesn’t matter how long your list of books to read is or how big your digital pile of unread novels has grown. For this activity, you need an actual book. If you don’t want to browse your local used bookstore (which is its own form of zen for me, but I know it’s overwhelming to some people!), simply ask a fellow book-loving friend if you can borrow one of their favorites.
Not only will this give you an excuse to connect with someone you love, but you’ll get the opportunity to curl up with a book that’s brand new to you. Plus, you’ll get to chat with your friend about the book when you’re finished!
2. Volunteer to Play With Shelter Animals
Animal shelters almost always need volunteers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be stuck cleaning up poop!
Most shelters need volunteers to play with the animals, which is super fun and relaxing for animal lovers. The dogs need walking, playtime, and socialization, and the cats need playtime and laps to curl up in. Some shelters let volunteers participate in training, too, so check out your local humane society to see if you can unwind while making a difference in the lives of animals waiting for their forever homes.
3. Experience Something New to You
Having new experiences can actually boost your overall mood, and this means feeling happier and more relaxed.
You don’t have to go on a grand adventure or spend a lot of money, either. Try activities like visiting a new park, checking out a museum exhibit you’ve never seen, taking a walk on a street or trail you’ve never explored, or participating in a free community event. Any of these things will trigger the same cascade of positive effects on your mood and outlook on life.
4. Dive Deep into Comforting Nostalgia
Sometimes, we just need to switch off our busy brains and zone out with familiar things. When I’m at peak stress levels, I often find myself seeking out books that I’ve loved since childhood, cute and mindless cartoons like Little Bear or Winnie the Pooh, and snacks that I used to love as a kid.
While this can certainly turn into an unhealthy coping mechanism if you do it all the time, it’s totally okay to consciously decide that you’re going to dedicate a whole afternoon (or evening … or day) to relax in the comfort of nostalgia. So, put on your comfiest clothes, prepare your snacks, and queue up everything that brought joy to your younger self!
5. Participate in a Sound Bath
This has always been on my bucket list, so maybe this will finally be the year that I check it off. Sound baths are supposed to be totally immersive and wildly relaxing. Based on the videos I’ve watched, the descriptions aren’t exaggerated!
The experience is typically referred to as a meditation, but it’s not a traditional “breathe deeply and be mindful” meditation. The entire experience allows your brain and body to relax in a wash of soothing sound waves. Some sound baths give you the option to participate in guided chants, but these are optional.
During the most immersive sound baths, you lie in a relaxed position (props and blankets are provided to facilitate this) and experience calming sounds from instruments like gongs, chimes, and Tibetan singing bowls. (If you’re unfamiliar, this is what Tibetan singing bowls sound like.)
Just listening to sound baths on YouTube is soothing, so experiencing one in person would likely just make me a puddle of relaxation!
What will you do to celebrate National Relaxation Day? Leave your most relaxing ideas in the comments!