5 Ways to Relax

My favorite thing to do whenever I have a quiet night at home is to create a mini-spa experience for myself. Whether it's because I've had a busy week at work or I just find myself craving a few lazy hours to myself, nothing helps me to relax more than to make some conscious efforts for self-care and stress relief.

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Here are my top five things I like to do whenever I want to take some time to relax. Whether I only take time to do one of these things or a combination, I always walk away feeling cozy and refreshed!

1 | Take a Bath I absolutely love a good warm bath, and my favorite thing about our new house is the gorgeous freestanding bathtub in our master bathroom. At least once a week, I set aside about 40 minutes to take a soak in the tub. When I do so, I typically drop in a few cap-fulls of this bubble bath I picked up from Target. 

2 | Pick Your Scent I am a strong believer in using nighttime routines to help improve your sleep schedule. Part of my routine is to apply the same lavender-scented hand lotion from L'Occitane every night. I picked lavender specifically because it's a scent that helps you relax, but now that I use it on a nightly basis, I associate the smell with bedtime. Anyway I can incorporate lavender into my nighttime routine helps me to feel relaxed.

3 | Bedside Yoga In college, I fulfilled my fitness credit by taking a nighttime yoga class. Although I don't take yoga classes regularly today (Laura is the yogi around here!), the things I learned from that class have still stuck with me today. After I started working full-time in an office setting, I noticed a significant difference in how my body feels at the end of the day. I can usually feel some knots in my shoulders and at least once a day, my back audibly cracks when I stand up. Eek! When I'm feeling stiff, nothing helps more than a few quick stretches. My favorite is to do a series of cat and cows before bed and will occasionally throw in some hip openers. Ryan looks at me like I'm insane, but that's half the fun.

4 | Turn Your Brain Off How you like to do this is probably a little different for everyone, but when I'm in relaxation mode, I love to pick up something that will help my brain shutdown. Often times I can do this by reading a book for 15-20 minutes (currently reading this), but sometimes I like to switch it up. I recently bought an adult coloring book. I resisted them for the first year and a half they were popular, but now that I own one, I feel fully committed. The repetition can be so relaxing and it even helps fulfill my need for some aesthetic beauty. 

5 | Cut the Caffeine Nothing helps me feel more relaxed or refreshed than a good night's sleep, and to do this, it is vital for me to monitor my caffeine intake. Cutting out caffeine, or at least limiting it after a certain hour, totally changes my sleeping habits. Whenever I don't have any caffeine during the day, I fall asleep immediately at night and rarely wake up until my morning alarm. Toss in a Diet Coke or two and it can take me at least a half hour or longer. Aside from the occasional cocktail, I really only drink three types of beverages: water, coffee, and Diet Coke. Last year, I broke up with Starbucks during Lent, which essentially kept me from drinking coffee (I was totally guilty of spending too much money on coffee at the time). Today, I avoid Starbucks except for special treats and only make coffee when I'm truly tired in the morning, which is usually only once or twice a week. The year prior, I gave up Diet Coke. During college, I was easily drinking 3 sodas a day, which is just not healthy. Today, I make sure I limit to only one per day, if any at all. My cardinal rule is no soda after 6:00, because that is when I can notice its impact on my sleep the most. Plus, if you're making it easier to fall asleep at night, you'll be less likely to spring for a K-cup in the morning.