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  • Michael Milgraum

Posted by Dr. Milgraum on December 9th, 2010

As winter fast approaches, many of us might be missing the warmth of summer. Surely, almost anyone would jump at the chance of an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii, right about now. Of course, there is, unfortunately, a great shortage of such free trips. What is a stressed and tired soul to do to rejuvenate and feel better? One suggestion: Try a mental vacation. Follow the instructions below, and if you really use your imagination, you might even hear the seagull’s calls and the waves lapping on the shore.

Turn off the phone, tell your wife/kids/significant others to not disturb you for 15 minutes. Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Observe the rising and falling of your breath, and gently encourage yourself to deepen your breath, perhaps by letting out a couple of sighs. Mentally scan through your body, and tell yourself that your arms and legs are getting warm and heavy. Notice any areas of discomfort or tightness in your body. On the next breath, imagine that a soothing warmth is flowing into that uncomfortable place and allowing you to deepen your relaxation and let go. If any thoughts run through your mind, just patiently allow them to come and go, without trying to follow, control or comment on them.

Now imagine that you are in a beautiful and peaceful vacation spot. Involve all your senses, as you call this place to mind. Perhaps you can see yourself lying or walking on the beach. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, and a soothing light breeze blowing through your hair. Listen to the lapping of the waves. Smell the slightly salty scent in the air. Look around you and see the blue sky, with a few fluffy white clouds floating above. Imagine yourself doing whatever you would like to do-- swimming, walking, running or sitting in a beach chair sipping your favorite drink. You can imagine yourself with someone or alone, enjoying the peaceful solitude. When you are ready, you can bring your awareness back to your present surroundings and resume your normal activities.

Practice this relaxation activity daily for two weeks, and I bet you will feel less stressed. If not, I’ll see what we can do about that free trip! ;)

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