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Sunday Seven #377

Everybody has a list of ways they think will relax you, and these days, most of us will try nearly anything to de-stress once in a while.

But what really does it for you? What activities, mental or physical, actually relax you?

I found a list of 50 Ways to De-Stress in College, for those of us who wonder what they’re teaching our kids these days. Some of the typical answers are there: things like “going for a run.” Exercise does not relax me. Don’t get me wrong: I know it’s good for you, but doing it doesn’t make me relaxed, and completing exercise only leaves me tired.

In my book, there’s a big difference between being relaxed and tired. Can I get an “Amen”?

But I was able to find seven things to do to relax me when I need to de-stress, so here’s my list.

7 Ways I Relax

1. Spend Time with the Dog
I believe what the research says about pets lowering our blood pressure and helping us live longer. There’s something about a dog (or a cat, if you’re a cat person) who has bonded with you and always looks at you with love in its eyes and without judgment or resentment. No matter how long you’ve been at the office, or out running errands without them, they’re always happy to see you. And snuggling up with a good pet, for me, is like an instant tranquilizer.

2. Watch Classic TV
Note the word classic. There are episodes of programs like The Andy Griffith Show, M*A*S*H, All in the Family and The Twilight Zone that I could literally recite by rote. But those shows were so well done back then, and the comedy and drama just worked so well, that watching them can relax me.

3. Breathing Deeply
I don’t do this one all that often, but I have learned that deep breathing will relax you. I often will do that when I’m at the doctor’s office in the waiting room. I’m convinced that it helps my blood pressure, which is usually normal or slightly below normal, anyway.

4. Praying
If you’re thinking of calling me out on this one, especially complaining about why a Christian wouldn’t list praying as the number one way, it’s because I’m being honest. Prayer is not the first thing I think of when I realize I need to relax. Yes, the Christian in me realizes that this is a problem. But I feel it would be even worse if I posted it first as if to imply that it’s the first thing I think of every minute; I grew up in a church where things were done more for show, even when the act itself was genuine. Praying does work for me, but I have this little guilt thing at times that amounts to feeling that with the entire universe on God’s plate, do I really need to “bother” him just because I’m having a rough moment? Yes, I know that contradicts the character of a loving God who wants relationship with us. But put me down in the “Still Growing” column on this one.

5. Time with Friends
As you’ve no doubt figured out about me, I’m a homebody. Most of my friends are married and have kids. Most of the rest of them have a tremendous circle of friends that already take up most of their time. Put my homebody nature and my friends’ packed schedule together, and you see why time with friends isn’t on the top of the list. But time with friends can also mean chats on the phone or chats on Facebook. This works well, too.

6. Have a Cup of Coffee
Yes, I’m serious. Coffee doesn’t give me the buzz it gives other people. There are times when I wish it would. But a nice cup of coffee, preferably flavored with something along the lines of caramel or hazelnut, makes me comfortable and grounds me.

7. Blog

Yes, even this crazy thing relaxes me, whether I’m writing the next post to schedule or writing something that won’t run for months.

So here’s your chance. To play along, list your answers in a comment with this post, or post them on your own blog and comment here with the link to your post. That way more people get to see your blog!
What 7 things are you most likely to do when you need to relax?

Sunday Seven #377
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