Unwinding in Unconventional Ways
“Less is more”— a philosophy I hearken back to in my professional and personal life. That three-word phrase captures the essence of restraint in design and in everyday living. It’s easy to work around the clock as there’s no off-limit times for tweeting, texting, posting, liking and following. From laptops to tablets to smartphones, it’s getting harder and harder to find time to unplug; that’s why I choose to actively schedule my offline time.
Taking Sundays off was my first step towards achieving balance. Having an entire day each week in which I don’t engage in any work-related emails or phone calls is a great refresher mentally and physically. Adhering to a hard start and stop time for my workday has been helpful as well: nothing business related before 8AM or after 8PM. Instead of the cliché casual Friday, during the summer, I honor shorter Fridays with an abbreviated day at the office. If the weather is nice, I’ll lay out by the pool with a magazine or go for a walk in the park. If it’s rainy, I might catch a movie or visit a museum or gallery.
Around this time of year, I enjoy weekend yoga retreats. The last one I attended took place a little over an hour’s drive from my home. The scenic easy ride prepared my mind for what was to come. As I drove toward the mountains, appreciating the fall foliage and listening to the soothing sounds of Ottmar Liebert, I felt the weight of the city slowly taking its leave. When I arrived, I was greeted with a warm cup of chamomile tea and taken to my restful cabin that was void of a television set. I looked forward to the long, cool nights with windows open, enjoying the fresh air and the relaxing sounds of nature as I fell deeply asleep. Strolls through the garden, hikes in the woods, daily morning yoga, afternoon meditations and nightly hot-tub soaks filled my time with activities that helped to recharge my soul. I planned not to use my cell phone while there, but, I did snap a few photos of the nature and beauty that surrounded me and took a relaxing yoga selfie or two.
A few of my favorite ways to unplug without leaving home include baking or trying a new recipe, watching back-to-back episodes of Downton Abbey or sketching and painting. There’s no rule that relaxation must be a solo sport. My husband and I schedule wind-down sessions a few times a year when we visit a cabin in the woods for a night or two in the country. During the day we’ll sip iced tea on the porch swing and shoot skeet; gun smoke is a form of aromatherapy in the country. At night, we’ll grill out and enjoy wine under the stars or in front of a bustling fire. Sure, we could grill at home and drink wine at any time, but there in that peaceful setting the food tastes better, the wine is more velvety and the laughter is sweeter. We’re big nature lovers and getting outdoors really helps to recharge and ground us. If we don’t have the time for an overnight getaway, we’ll pack a lunch and a few cold drinks and hike up a mountain. When we get to a nice shady spot, we’ll pitch a tent, rig a hammock, take turns reading poetry and feeding each other grapes.
When I’m at the office and in an urgent need of some “me-time,” I’ll turn off the lights at my desk, roll out my yoga mat and get in the most relaxing pose ever, Shavasana, with my eyes closed and with an herbal eye-pillow atop a tissue (to protect my eye makeup). I’ll lay there quietly for 10 or 15 minutes, whatever I can spare. I’ve learned the hard way to set an alarm so that I don’t fall asleep. Depending on how my day is going, I might even listen to a session of my guided meditation app.
Every now and again, I like to elevate my relaxation experience by donning a Dave Clark headset and taking the co-pilot seat as my husband flies us leisurely over and around the city. Getting on a small plane, with no baggage in hand, no security lines to wade through and no schedule to keep is incredibly liberating. From way up there, I look down on the bustle and the beauty of the city and appreciate my time away from it all the more. Cloud surfing— the way it was intended.