The Caregivers is a unique series focused on the challenges and triumphs of caregiving. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between AARP and Word In Black.
Relaxation is a necessary part of our wellness. It can be a phone call with a friend, a luxurious trip to a foreign land, or a few moments doing absolutely nothing. There are physical places we can go to connect with ourselves in a new environment and meet new people. There are also places we can dream up by simply using our imagination (because, well, it’s cheaper than a cruise!). When times get stressful, ask yourself these simple questions:
What does relaxation look like for me?
How does relaxation feel?
What might help me feel relaxed at this moment?
Give yourself as much freedom to explore the possibilities for yourself. If you’re looking for some structured relaxation time, a personal or planned retreat may be good for you. Here are some options for improving your health:
Retreat into silence.
Imagine yourself being quiet for days. This is what takes place during a silent retreat. The purpose is to channel your energy inward — away from the constant and sometimes jarring stimulation of daily life. Silent retreats can help you gain clarity on who you are and how you want to show up in this world. Locations, costs, and techniques vary. They’re often run within spiritual or religious communities (be they Jesuit, Buddhist, or Kemetic). In Washington, D.C., the Insight Meditation Community of Washington offers retreats. The Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta offers these experiences, too. If you’re in the Dallas area, you may consider the Siddhayatan Spiritual Retreat. Do some research to find out where you’d like to go.
Go on an excursion to a faraway land.
Imagine yourself on a beach with volcanic black sand. Now, join a group of travelers headed there. Within the past decade, travel retreats to places like Egypt, Colombia, and India have become popular. These experiences are typically spiritual, in nature, and involve some form of meditation or exercise. Check out the Yoga Greenbook to see what kind of excursions are out there. There are retreats especially designed for Black women — like this one. If you’re looking to support Black-owned wellness retreats, then here’s a list to consider.
Embrace a staycation.
People sleep on the staycation (literally and figuratively). While rest is a really helpful part of a vacation without distant travel, so is gardening, watching movies, and cooking. If you’re in the mood, you can become a tourist in your community. Time your relaxation according to events in your area. If you’re a foodie, then there are probably plenty of restaurants for you to visit. Black Restaurant Week has this directory for places to visit in Dallas, Houston, New York, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. If you’re choosing a staycation during the winter season, here are some options.
Write a relaxation plan.
Some of us get an adrenaline rush during times of uncertainty and even chaos. Others of us do not. If you’re the kind of person who feels calm when we’ve got a plan (or two or three), then devoting time to create a relaxation plan can be good for you. Reflect on who you might call, where you might go, what you might read, or what meal you might enjoy.
Mental well-being is a cornerstone of healthy living. AARP wants to help you get healthier and stay healthy. Visit AARP’s Mental Health Center at www.aarp.org/mentalhealth for tips, tools and resources that can help you develop healthy habits for mental well-being.