Whenever I need to take a break from life, there are a few things I routinely do. For a long time, I thought I was just slacking off and wasting time but after someone pointed out that she had similar routines that she uses when she takes a mental break, it hit me: I was doing the same thing. So, now, I do them without feeling guilty that I’m slacking off!
Plus, I feel better and more clear-headed afterward. These are simple retreats from the world that help me reset anytime. I use them for routine stress-buildup, not as a way to manage major drama or setbacks. For that, I turn to the pipe! I kid. No, not really.
Doing these things help to bring me back to my real self real quick and now, I put my all into them!
You’ve probably heard the phrase, dance like no one is watching. Well, let’s just say I really take this to heart. I turn my living room into a dance club by switching out the regular bulb on a living room lamp for a colored one. I also have a couple of glasses of wine (because one won’t do), put on a 2-hour playlist, and just go for it. Unless the house is burning down or my neighbors complain (they never do), I will not interrupt this for anyone. I ignore the dings on my phone and get completely lost in the music.
Shopping at Home Goods
What do I need at Home Goods today? To see what I need at Home Goods today!
My sister likes to go to Zara to check out what’s new in fashion every week. I go to Home Goods to see what’s new in kitchenware, bedding, and to look for nifty storage solutions. This chain is my favorite neighborhood bargain stop and when I need to clear my head, I’ll be in there for 3 hours. Some new bed linens, potholders, ovenware, mugs, and a stash of healthy snacks later and I’m feeling irie again.
The Altadena Public Library
This is one of the most special libraries I’ve ever seen. It has a mix of style, community, and library services that draws you in, hugs you, and won’t let you go. It’s situated in an area of San Gabriel Valley, California, that feels like it was kissed by God. It has such style too! Thanks to a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, you get an expansive view of the outside. The periodicals section where I go to flip through Dwell and The Oprah Magazine (usually) feels like the comfy mid-century reading room I would have in my home if I had space for a reading room. Every corner of this library is always organized; nothing is ever out of place! For example, I’ve never seen carts of books lying around, unattended.
Whether it’s the area or just this library, but they seem to be especially community-minded. They carry an impressive list of current DVDs and will buy a book if enough people want to read it (both times I asked, they bought the books!). They have a media section where I’ve taken a surprisingly good course in Video Editing and believe you can reserve time to use their video editing equipment. The area in the photo above is where you can play chess just by sitting across from someone else who is playing. There’s a bright educational section for kids and they even have a sewing machine you can use!
I love going to this sophisticated adult community center to clear my head and reclaim my zen.
Let me walk you through the scene at Bryant Park (NYC) during lunch hour. The people sitting around having their lunch together, come from all socioeconomic backgrounds (from high-powered investment bankers to janitorial workers). There are usually pigeons around waiting on your crumbs while peacefully sharing the park with you. The park services folks manage to keep it clean and the New Yorkers who come here, have the courtesy of being quiet and cleaning up after themselves. As you look around you’ll see someone reading their book or the newspaper, another person scrolling through their smartphone, and office workers sharing their lunch with co-workers. All around the park is a concrete walk-way. This is where you can find vendors selling $2 bottled-water and a restaurant for sandwiches that I believe is run by the park services. In the summer, it’s common for a musician to be playing.
Okay, now that I’ve set the scene for you… imagine if I worked nearby? Well, I worked in that tall green building you see straight ahead for years and this was once one of my favorite ways to clear my head. I would hang back after lunch and sit for a couple of hours enjoying park-life. If you were to see me, you’d think I was a New York tourist, not someone playing hookey from work.
I know I’m not alone in using the internet to escape, but I belong to a smaller club in how I use the internet to escape a day that’s trying to get the better of me. I use it to look up cheap airfares to Mexico or somewhere I want to go. By the time I’m done planning my real or imagined vacation, I have something to look forward to. I can then get back to my life knowing that there’s more to life than whatever I’m stressing about that day. When Tulum or Jamaica is on the horizon, what is there to stress about?
Christine is a Life Strategist living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and personalized methods, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for more joy and greater productivity.