Living in the city isn’t easy for many. At least not those who crave some quiet solitude.

We often yearn for some “downtime” spent at a familiar cottage, or even desperately feel a burning connection to a photograph or painting of a place that elicits the promise of an immediate sense of calm.

Yet that very craving we feel can be refocused and turned into something positive, versus a tight, uncomfortable frustration.

The next time you feel the need to be somewhere else, you just need to channel it.

Close your eyes and see the immediate area around you. See familiar details, or create objects that you personally connect to as relaxing.

Now here’s where the magic happens..

freesia-612dbfRecall a time you were in a similar space.. Remember what it sounded like, the temperature of a soft breeze against your exposed skin, the scents and smells that breeze carried..

Recreating these details (especially the senses other than sight) has been proven to elicit a strong memory, making it easier to return there in our minds.

Now that your brain has recreated a memory where you are in a space of calm and tranquility, drink it in. Breathe deeply, and picture that breath as filling you up with peace.. Hold it, and enjoy this feeling, let it spread through your whole body, all the way to your fingertips.. Imagine it replacing all the stress and frustration. Now, as you forcefully breathe out, imagine all those unwanted feelings leave with the stale air.

The more you repeat this habit, the better you’ll become at it. Also, next time you are somewhere where you truly feel relaxed, be really aware of how all your senses are being stimulated.  Being mindful in these situations not only wrings the most out of it in the moment, but makes it easier to recall and reap its benefits in the future


Active relaxation

in a few weeks, I’ll be moving out of the city. I need to breathe, I need to relax… Over the last couple months, upon actively taking stock of my general well-being, I usually find considerable tightness in my shoulders, neck, and face. Consciously releasing this energy can be achieved in a few ways, depending on how much time and space is available

1) Actively relaxing each body part.

This might sound obvious, but I find that I often have to tell myself to relax each part two or three times before it’s completely loose. This is the result of unconsciously setting our base level much higher than it should be. It’s surprising just how much stress we can carry around on a daily basis, completely unaware


2) Take deep breaths

Start inhaling into the belly, and once it fills up, keep inhaling, lifting and expanding the diaphragm. Hold it for a fraction of a second, letting it absorb the negative energy in your chest and shoulders. As you release it, measure it out evenly and consciously, feeling the stress leave your body. Color visualization further enhances the beneficial effects of this exercise: imagine your breath in as a cooling blue color, and the breath out as a warm red.

3) Stretching

This one takes a bit more time and space, and be very diligent that you do not rush! If you don’t have time for a full stretch, try massaging your face, especially your upper brows and eyes. This quickly produces a rush of relaxation. IF you do have fifteen minutes and a space where you feel comfortable, go through each body part mentally as in activity 1, and identify your problem areas. No need to do any formal movements.. just experiment moving then slowly and purposefully: once you feel a stretch, hold it there for up the 20 seconds. If it feels like it could use longer, either increase the stretch and/or hold it for an extra 10-15 seconds.

As you’ve read through these simple activities, I trust you’ve noticed a similar thread among them. Take your time. It’s your life, your schedule. It’s so easy to move from one responsibility to another without looking after our own well-being. Trying to just be actively aware of our needs and energy will create a daily habit to check in with ourselves, giving us each the impetus to take the time to relax