Finding (and Keeping!) Your Inner Zen

Although I’m currently on uni holidays, this holiday season has been crazy busy. Between work, the gym, and inevitable errands, I haven’t actually spent much time relaxing! I’m definitely not complaining, though, because I love being busy. But at the end of the day, I tend to have a hard time switching off and winding down – I tend to have what I call an unhealthy relationship with stress (I’m working on it!). Today I thought I’d write a post about my favourite tried-and-true ways to force relaxation and keep your mind in a calm state for when the semester starts up again.

I’ve found that one of the only ways for me to deeply relax and unwind is to have a long, hot bubble bath. It sounds silly, but there’s something so darn soothing about hot water and a peaceful atmosphere. If you’re going to take a bubble bath, you have to do it right. The atmosphere is crucial. Aromatherapy is real, people! I like to light as many candles as I can get my paws on, and dim all the lights. Another thing that’s quite nice is to play some relaxing spa music – I usually just search for a ‘spa playlist’ on Spotify. A good idea is to gather all of the tools you need and pop them in the bathroom so that you don’t have to go and get them mid-bath. My beauty essentials include my everyday skincare, a face mask, a body exfoliant, a hair mask, and body butter. And a Lush bath bomb or bubble bar – I know, I know, it’s such a white girl thing, but they seriously are the best. My current fave is the Brightside bubble bar – it’s citrusy , uplifting and relaxing all at the same time. I also always like to have warm towels and a fluffy robe on hand. I get bored easily so I like to read in the bath, and as an added bonus, reading at the end of the day makes me sleepy. My favourite post-soak activity is to do my nails. There is nothing as satisfying as having a fresh, glossy manicure. Taking the time to focus on something, even as small as painting your nails, that’s not work or uni related is so crucial to winding down properly. When the semester starts up again, I try to maintain this as a weekly ritual/reward at the end of the week.

Of course, there will be weeks during the semester where you do not have hours to dedicate to a full-on relaxation ritual. Meditation is a great alternative for when you need immediate stress help. I used to be a meditation skeptic – I thought it was all mumbo jumbo and had a complete placebo effect. I even tried it a few times and still thought it was a total scam. I decided to give it one more shot after I went through a particularly stressful semester at uni, and I tried to look at it with a clean slate and remove any expectations. Surprisingly, this time around I found it so relaxing, and it calmed my mind like nothing else after just ten minutes. Guided meditation doesn’t actually force you to remove all your thoughts – instead, it encourages you to handle your thoughts in a more passive way. I don’t meditate too often anymore, usually just when I don’t have a lot of time. It keeps my stress in check in a pinch.

One last, very small something I like to do to completely switch off is to literally switch off my tech and have a digital detox. Even if its just an hour or two before bed, turning off your laptop and your phone to disconnect is the ultimate in helping your brain jump into sleep mode. If I’m on my phone before bed, you better believe I’m checking emails, social media and uni stuff until I realise it’s way later than I thought it was. Even if it sounds impossible, try it. You’ll be surprised how well and sound you sleep.

Caitlin xx

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