Spring Break in a Day
After a dreary winter, the obvious recovery plan involves tropical breezes, sandy flip-flops and colorful drinks with paper umbrellas, right? Well, yes, maybe in a perfect world. But sand and surf can cost a lot of time and money. When a week or even a weekend away just isn't in the cards, carving out a few hours in your schedule to recharge with a change of scenery -- or activity -- can have the same uplifting effect.
"The ultimate goal of your minivacation should be to feel calmer, more energized, more clearheaded and happy," says the New York City-based psychotherapist. Consider whether one of these breaks from the everyday inspires you.
Sure, you can take a stroll just about anywhere, but have you ever traveled a labyrinth? These elaborate pathways look like mazes, but are actually beautiful, winding walkways, each with a single route and endpoint and usually shaped to fill a large circle. Thought to clear the mind and encourage relaxation, labyrinths are found in parks, public gardens and in or near houses of worship, and each has its own special history. Labyrinthlocator online can help you find one nearby.
Anything but routine workout
Challenging the mind and body with a completely different kind of athletic pursuit can take cross training to a new level. Consider, for example, indoor rock climbing. Climbing gyms are everywhere, and the adrenaline rush alone of scaling a rock wall is worth the price of a lesson (the Web site indoorclimbing lists climbing gyms around the country).
Or take to the water and try sculling or rowing. Between handling the oars, balancing the narrow boat and learning to move your vessel through the water smoothly, there's no time to dwell on work projects or household duties. Introductory rates make the sport accessible to novices. (USRowing lists nearby rowing clubs and associations.)
Make it or bake it
Complete this sentence: "I've always wanted to make ... ." Share the labor (and fun) with a friend or really do it yourself -- without taking a class. Whether it's beef Wellington or banana cream puffs, there are plenty of cookbooks, recipes and online how-to videos to guide you.
The same goes for art projects. Have you been collecting broken pottery for the day you make time to try mosaic art? Well, that day is here. Take on a mosaic tile mirror or café table, using instructions at such places as Mosaic Tile Guide.
Go to extremes
Ellen Yacoe runs nearly every day, but when the dance therapist and mother of three really wants a change of pace, she goes for a Polar Bear swim in the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean -- off season. "All thoughts of work, how my kids are doing in school, even the family budget go out of my head in an instant," says the Oakton, Va., resident. "It's a scary but exhilarating event."
On the other extreme, a long session in a steam bath or sauna can be so relaxing that you'll have noodle legs when you're done. Take a complimentary day membership at the Y or local gym. You can work out and then reward yourself with a mind-clearing blast of heat. Or skip the workout entirely and meet a friend for lunch.
Take a midday snooze
Don't discount the possibility that a two-hour nap is just the stimulus your winter-weary self needs. You may not sport a tan by day's end, but the glow that goes with feeling good will be just as noticeable.
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