While August 15th has been known for quite a few years now as "National Relaxation Day" in the U.S., no one is quite certain how or when this designation for this day originated. One possibility is that the original Woodstock Music Festival began on August 15th, 1969, and perhaps the day began as a grassroots commemoration of the spirit of that event. There is also the possibility that those in the spa industry originally concocted this day as a way to encourage people to visit their spas to relax during the slower summer months.
However this day originated, we're definitely in favor of observing it—not only on that day, but all through the year! There can be many ways to observe the spirit of National Relaxation Day—the only real requirement is that you find some way to take a break from the normal daily routine for at least a few minutes to do something you enjoy and find relaxing.
Below are a few fabulous ideas for ways to share the spirit of relaxation without spending much money!
Aromatic River Rock Foot Bath
Place a layer of river rock or other smooth, rounded stones in the bottom of a large bowl or basin. Cover the stones with warm water and a drop or two of your favorite relaxing essential oil. Place the basin on a towel in front of a comfortable chair. Sit in the chair, place your feet in the basin, and enjoy the feeling of the smooth stones as you rub your feet back and forth through the stones. To enhance the relaxation, turn on soothing music, watch a favorite movie you haven't seen for a while, read an enjoyable book, or set up another foot bath and chair for a friend and sit and enjoy each other's company.
The Great Massage Exchange
Buy (or make) an inexpensive wood or electric vibrating massage tool (these can often be found for under $10 at discount stores). Get with a friend who has ten minutes to spare and who'd be willing to give you an informal, five-minute massage in exchange for receiving an informal five-minute massage using the tool. After you've exchanged massages, it can be fun to give the friend the massage tool as a thank-you gift.
If the weather is good, take a walk in a park, along a beach, in a forest, or any other setting that you enjoy. Go by yourself to take time to meditate on your own, or take someone who's company you enjoy along with you. Take time to find something new you haven't seen or noticed before. This could include how the light reflects (or doesn't reflect) from different surfaces, unique patterns or textures in different things you see, the shapes of different plants you encounter, or anything else that looks interesting. Approach the world with wonder.
Take a few minutes to play a favorite board game or card game with a child (or with anyone else who can act childish for a little while if there aren't any children handy). If you're feeling extra adventurous, invent your own game to play together (Hint: choose any 3-5 items from the following list and come up with rules for a game that could be played using those items: rope, string, hangers, dice, pie tins, coins, clothes pins, cardboard box, egg carton, markers, paper, masking tape, straws, ice-cube trays, pipe-cleaners, popsicle sticks, pebbles, paper-clips, buttons, etc…).
Try making a new recipe for a treat that you haven't tried before (or try inventing your own recipe if you're feeling daring). Invite someone over to "test" the results with you.
Sit in Stillness
A great way to relax is to sit in stillness and silence. Find a quiet place, preferably outdoors, and sit with open eyes, relaxed gaze, just sitting. Start by breathing in deeply through your nose, hold your breath, and then exhale completely through your mouth. Do this several times until you feel relaxed. Then, just sit. Enjoy the silence. If your mind starts to wander or you find yourself thinking, focus on a single word like "peace" or "calm". Don't worry if your mind wanders, but do strive to be still and give yourself a break from thinking! Do this for ten minutes.
—Submitted by Laurel Clark, Missouri
I think starting in the morning with some soft music on ....relaxing in a wonderful warm bath with some special oils in it. And of course diffusing oils at the same time. Not costly, but very relaxing and rewarding to one's self.
—Submitted by Nancy Brown, Utah
Lavender on the Feet
As a trained Reflexologist my main goal is to relax a client to enhance the session. I have found that applying Lavender to two particular places on the foot is highly effective. First I use direct application of Lavender on both of the large toes and hold them gently but firmly for about a minute. Then I apply some gentle reflex techniques up and down each toe and around the base of the toes. Next I apply the Lavender to the diaphragm reflex ( Up and Under the ball of the foot area. I place my Thumb firmly and keep even pressure on that reflex and hold the foot with my other hand. I apply a nice blending oil and massage each foot thoroughly. Many clients fall asleep with this method. Using Vita Flex also enhances the effects of the lavender.
—Submitted by Denise Lowery, Texas
Creating with Music
You will need a CD of your favorite music (or several CD's), some large paper, a smock, and finger paint. Put on the music, close your eyes for a bit, and let it move through you. Then, dive in to the finger paint! Feel its texture under your fingers, enjoy the colors, and swirl the paint around on the paper to the music. You can vary this with other media: magic markers or clay or Play Doh. The more of your senses you involve, the more relaxing this will be! This is a great way to bring out the joyful child within you at any age.
—Submitted by Laurel Clark, Missouri
A great way to relax & celebrate the oil of the month, is to make an exotic & refreshing pitcher of Lavender Lemonade. To make 2 quarts mix: 6 1/2 cups of water 1 cup of Real Lemon 100% lemon juice concentrate 1 cup or more of honey or agave nectar 1 drop of Lavender. Yes one drop is all you need! Enjoy!
—Submitted by Jessica Moore, Georgia
Recipe for a Relaxing Bath
After drybrushing your body, take a very warm bath using a cup of Epsom salts with 5 drops of pure essential oil of lavender mixed with 5 drops of roman chamomile essential oil. Focus on deep belly breathing during your bath. Think thoughts of gratitude. Mentally list recent accomplishments. When the water is cool, let it drain and dry off using a big, fluffy towel straight from the dryer.
—Submitted by Cindy Maricle, Oregon
Meditate and Read
I recommend that you take the peace & calming oil put it on. Get your favorite relaxing CD out and just calmly & quietly sit and meditate. Then once done with that grab a good book shut off the phones lay around and read. Do nothing but relax for one day of peace.
—Submitted by Jacki Watkins, Kansas
Whether on the beach, at the park, or in your own back yard, lie down on your blanket and look to the sky, making out forms in the white clouds above! Make sure to share this time with someone and have fun!
—Submitted by Yvonne Chamberlain, Illinois
Float on the Water
Get out on a lake on a pontoon, or whatever means you may have, and drift with the current as you dangle your feet in the water while you lay back looking at the sky and listening to the loons near by. Take someone you love with you and talk about old times and plans you have for the future.
—Submitted by Donna Larson, Minnesota
Sun Set Magic
Be outside at least 15 minutes before the sun is due to set. Get comfortable, relax, sit back and watch the miracle of being alive today. Watch the colors of the sky change as the sun goes down. Take a deep cleansing breath as the sun slips away, close your eye and tell your Higher Power that you are grateful for another wonderful day.
—Submitted by Breda Layou, New Jersey
Music with Aromatherapy
Choose music that makes you feel relaxed, happy and comfortable. Use headphones for the best result. Put your favorite essential oil that makes you feel relaxed, happy and well in a diffuser (if you have one), on a cotton pad, in a bowl with hot water, or on a tissue paper placed it beside you. Put Roman Chamomile hydrolat (hydrosol or essential water) on a cotton pad. Use your favorite position, either sitting or laying down, put the cotton pads over your eyes, and enjoy!
—Submitted by Kristbjorg Arnadotter, Iceland
No one loves chasing bubbles and watching them float way more than an adult in need of a little relaxing. Be as childish as you want all by yourself, or better yet call together the children on your block. If there are no children on your block call the parents of children you know and ask them to come over for just a few minutes of bubbles and laughter. You do not have to make it a big production. You can find a lot of fun things to do with bubbles online, be it as simple as making your own bubble mixture by using liquid dish washing soap using a straw or creating a bubble wand with a paper clip or wire coat hanger formed into a hoop. Bubble Mixture Recipe: 1 part soap and 15 parts water. One cup of water is all you need to get started. You can also visit your neighborhood dollar store and get a couple bottles of bubble blowing solution with a plastic or wire blowing ring. Relax and enjoy!
—Submitted by Gloria Gradisar, Colorado
Invite a few of your favorite people over for a backyard barbecue. You supply the meat and veggies to grill. Each couple/person brings something to share that they really love to eat, such as a special salad, dessert, drink or side dish. Kick back and enjoy each other's company!
—Submitted by Dorothy Perry, Colorado
Lemon Water and Sky Pictures
My idea of a relaxing moment would be to begin the day with a good stretch and a glass of lemon water. Then get outside with my daughters and granddaughter, lay on the grass and gaze up at the sky telling each other what pictures we see in the clouds. Relaxing for the mind, body, and soul!
—Submitted by Wendy Cochran, Michigan
An Afternoon Siesta
Hike out to your favorite quiet spot....maybe in your own back yard or next to a bubbling brook, apply Rutavala, spread a blanket and take a nap! An afternoon siesta to rejuvenate the soul. Be grateful for the freedom to enjoy solitude and peace.
—Submitted by Leasa Peterson, Colorado
Quick Shower Massage
There are many ways to relax, but they all seem to take so much time, and in our hectic world, sometimes that takes the relaxing out of relaxing. The best pick-me-up relaxation I've found takes only a couple of seconds and involves something I do everyday. I stop, while in the shower, set my shower head to massage, lean my head forward, and just let the water massage the back of my neck for 20-30 seconds. Oh, it's divine!
—Submitted by Penny Swann, Idaho
Sit down in a comfortable chair in pleasant surroundings where you should not be interrupted by telephone or children for 10 or 20 minutes. If desired, have some incense burning. Take a deep, slow breath through the stomach/diaphragm, not the shoulders. Watch the breath slowly filling your body, then exhale slowly and softly, also watching the breath leaving you. Repeat as long as it is comfortable, being careful not to take too many very deep breaths, but alternate with shallower ones. Pay attention to the breath rather than thinking what you may have to do or whom you may have to meet. In jut a few minutes you will feel completely relaxed and refreshed. This can easily be done at the office sitting in front of the computer, taking 3 or 4 breaths, paying attention to the breath and not the tasks confronting you. Nobody needs even to notice. After some time practicing this, your co-workers may want to know why nothing can rattle you.
—Submitted by MaryAnn Czermak, California