5 Ways to Free Your Mind
Organizing the house always tops New Year's resolution lists—but what about decluttering your brain? Whether you float in a futuristic pod or try a five-minute breathing trick, you'll reap the healthful rewards of chilling out.
Let worries drift away
Floating like a cork in an egg-shape pod may seem more Matrix than meditative. But people eager to disconnect are plunging into sensory deprivation tanks in cities like St. Louis, Des Moines and Chicago. Warm water loaded with Epsom salts keeps users afloat in a dark, soundproof atmosphere. It's freaky for a minute, then blissful, as your mind wanders, truly free from interruptions.
Say thank you daily
Thankfulness has been linked to stress relief, but Dr. Glenn Fox, who studies gratitude at the University of Southern California Performance Science Institute, says it takes practice. He recommends jotting instances of appreciation in a journal: "It's like a muscle you need to exercise."
Breathe in …
If you're new to meditation, Alex Marculescu of Ohio's Art of Living Cleveland Center suggests this technique: Place right index and middle fingers between eyebrows. Press the right nostril closed with your thumb and exhale slowly. Then inhale. Use the ring and pinkie fingers to close the left nostril. Lift thumb and exhale through right nostril. Repeat for five minutes.
Draw it out
Chicago art therapist Jami Pugh says doodling helps people clear their minds because they're not focused on an outcome: "They're just shifting their attention to something soothing." So next time you're waiting at the dentist's office, trade social media (and the barrage of stressful headlines) for a drawing app, such as "Zen!" for Android or "Zen Brush 2" for iPhone, which sends relaxing ripples across the screen when you erase your design.
Escape, yogi style
Nothing ruins a good warrior pose like catching a glimpse of dirty dishes. To truly reset your mind and body, remove yourself from daily stressors and spend some time at a yoga retreat. Most include meals, lodging and coaches-and instead of running errands after your practice, you can take a walk in the woods or get a massage. Check bookyogaretreats.com for listings.