Good news for those of us who read before I bed: it’s one of the most relaxing activities we can put into our bedtime ritual. Research shows that reading, even for as little as 6 minutes!, can reduce stress by as much as 68%. However, before bed, keep it light—no horror, excessive violence, or grief, and no self-help that requires intense introspection. The emotions stirred up by those genres can disrupt sleep and increase stress.
Happy bedtime reading, friends! Say yes to a good book.
I’m sitting in meditation a little longer these days, getting more sleep, and consciously making more time to relax and be. I force myself to do it. I wish relaxing came more naturally to me. I wish I didn’t judge my days by how many items I crossed off my to-do list. That’s how I’m built and it’s served me well. But here’s what also serves me well – focus. And that’s what meditation, rest, and relaxation instills in us. There are two ways to manifest the life we want—make it happen and draw the goodness toward us. I recommend a healthy dose of both.
On Saturday morning, I went snorkeling in the ocean inlet by my hotel in Puerto Rico. Clad in slightly too-big flippers, a suction mask, and breathing tube, I proceeded to slightly hyperventilate. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 30, and the open water is still a scary, albeit magical, place for me. It’s initially disconcerting not to be able to breathe through my nose. After standing and breathing with my mask for a few minutes, I was able to calm down and get used to the altered breathing pattern. Then I was able to happily kick and float along the water’s surface in search of tropical fish and and coral tucked among the flowing sea grass.
At one point my arms and legs got tired (I had spent most of the night before on the dance floor at my friends’ wedding) so I just stopped and watched. The fish nibbled on the grass below and I just floated, all of us supported and rocked by the gentle tides of the ocean. I didn’t have to do anything in that moment except be present and observe. And it was glorious.
Now that I’m back on dry land, far away from that beautiful island, I’m trying to hold on to that lesson. Sometimes all that’s needed is our presence. Sometimes showing up makes more of a statement that any words or actions. Once in a while, it’s okay to let go and float. It’s surprising how much support we actually have all around us if we just stop and take it in.