It’s 8:00 am. You overslept. Get up, stagger into kitchen, start a pot of coffee, take a quick shower, shave, find an outfit that’s clean, get dressed, gulp down coffee, grab keys, drive to work, meet deadlines, attend meetings, eat lunch at your desk, meet more deadlines, leave work, make important calls on your way home, remember you scheduled dinner with your sister who’s been dying to see you but you haven’t had the time, turn around go to restaurant sit down leave 2 hours later drive home park in garage go inside say hello to roommate/husband/wife/pets set alarm brush teeth put on pajamas turn on TV fall asleep on couch… and repeat this for five days in a row.
Sound a little too familiar? You’re not alone. We live in a culture that values productivity over happiness. Given this way of life, it’s no wonder that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – because the leading cause of heart disease is stress.
With so many responsibilities, we don’t give ourselves permission to take time out for ourselves. We urge our stressed out friends to “take a day off”, we tell our harried parents to “relax”, but we seldom take our own advice.
Tomorrow, try something a little different.
After dinner, tell those who live with you that you will be unavailable (“only call for me if something is on fire!!”) for 45 minutes. Take your phone off the hook, and turn your cell phone off. Bring some candles, your favorite CD, and a radio into your bathroom. Close the door. Fill your tub with warm water and, if you have them, some scented bath salts (Lavender is quite soothing, for instance). Hit “play”, disrobe, and lie down in your tub.
Close your eyes, and inhale slowly. As thoughts of work, social engagements, and deadlines fill your mind, acknowledge them. And then, gently let them go. Your obligations have no place here – only allow peaceful thoughts to stay.
20 minutes to an hour of relaxation in the tub, with a serving of bath salts , will leave you feeling refreshed and renewed. Your circulation will improve, your skin will be soft and supple, and you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep. If you take this time for yourself at least every other day, you’ll notice many important changes; you’ll look and feel younger, you’ll have more energy for your work, your hobbies, and for those you care about. The benefits don’t end there – your body will thank you too.