Well, the fall term started Wednesday, and I still can’t say I’m entirely ready to go back to school. The pace of the school year is much different than the pace of summer for everyone at the university; the process of buying books, for example, involves students, the university bookstore and professors. So while there is some small comfort in the fact that we’re all in this together—that I am not alone in my reluctance to go back to school—the fact remains that the semester is upon us all.
But part of me wants to immerse myself in learning, reading and writing. In many ways, school never stopped for me. For one, I took a summer class in June, which demanded almost all of my time; second, I was always reading, though little to no progress was made on any books when I vacationed in Myrtle Beach; and third, I started my own blog, which serves as a medium for improving my writing. So while I like to relax and enjoy the summer spirit of easy living, I realize that I enjoy the demands of the semester, too—to a moderate extent, of course.
But what happens when the semester becomes too much? What does one do to relax in the face of a looming, monumental pile of tasks and responsibilities in mid-November? Well, I learned some great ways to relax this summer, and I’d like to share them with everyone.
1) Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra—or what I experienced, anyway—is not hardcore and physically demanding. You won’t be asked to lick your elbow or do splits as you grab your toes; instead, focus is placed on deep relaxation and meditating. My instructor told me that 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra is equal to four hours of R.E.M. sleep.
2) Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an ubiquitous recommendation, but it does work very well. Deep breathing, especially when done in the Yoga Nidra style, has many health benefits, including relieved tension, clearer thinking and stronger lungs. Deep breathing can also be used anytime, so it can be used before responding to anger-provoking situations.
3) Casual Reading
I can assure you as an English major that there is a difference between casual, relaxed reading and attentive, analytical reading. Enjoy the novel at your bedside—it provides a great escape and is much more edifying than watching TV. You’ll also improve your vocabulary, which will allow you to engage in extemporaneous verbosity if you have a whimsical side. Who doesn’t love bloviating?
4) Listening to Music
Music can be as soothing as it can be energizing. Just hearing the names of some songs—Let it Be, Stairway to Heaven, All You Need is Love—can relax you and put you at ease. Listening to ocean waves with your eyes closed can almost be as relaxing as being at the beach itself. Sit back, relax and play the hit tracks!
Stargazing is just what it sounds like; grab a blanket, a good friend, snacks, and look at the stars! Admiring the beauty that overlooks us is humbling and intriguing. Contemplating the mysteries of the universe, creating your own constellations and appreciating the night’s aesthetic appeal makes stargazing a prime choice for relaxing.
Many other methods of relaxing exist, of course, but these are five strategies that I find super effective. I also use sports as an outlet, and I encourage my readers to do the same if they are so inclined; the mental and physical benefits are manifold. Now, if you excuse me, I have some reading to return to.