Sometimes things just build up and build up on us until we just need to take some time to ourselves, to take a breather and give our shoulders a rest. Usually I just rely on a couple methods, but lately I am having to find new ways to help me relax, take my mind off things and not let everything build up on me.
The top of almost everyones list, and mine is no exception, music is a well known relaxation aid. It can absorb our attention, acting as a distraction whilst simultaneously allowing us to explore emotions. By listening to the right music it can have a huge effect on our minds and bodies, from slowing our heart rates to lowering our blood pressure and even decreasing the levels of stress hormones in our system. For me its the thing I turn to most often, usually just laying down on the floor, sticking in the headphones and turning on something nice a calm. Recently there have been two particular albums I’ve been turning to; Cloud Atlas (Soundtrack) by Tom Tykwer and Pentimento by Lilah Larson.
Cloud Atlas has alway been by go to music when feeling a little down, the cloud-brushing heights that the orchestra soar to, the reappearances of the main piano medley and the emotional tie ins from the scenes. Its a fabulous score and perfect if you want to loose yourself in another world.
Pentimento is a fantastic album, I really love the influence Lilah has of her instruments and the command of lyrics that make this album such a personal and emotional journey. Its fair to say I fallen head over heels for Lilah’s music (and maybe a lil bit for her too). ForTheRabbits recently did a piece on this album that I really loved and honestly they say it best for me;
On the one hand this is a deeply intimate record, telling personal tales of conflicted love, complicated and often failed relationships, and their role as a queer intersectional feminist musician; but like so many of us, Lilah knows that our personal lives inevitably cross into the political sphere. Politics becomes personal, and Pentimento is not afraid of asking questions of the world in which it exists.
2. have a laugh
Sometimes with music though, its easy to get lost in your own thoughts, to drown out the melodies and fall down the rabbit hole. In these cases I turn to my handy audiobook, podcasts and radio iplayer apps. When we laugh endorphins are triggered, our muscles relax and blood pressure lowers. So yeah, it really can be the best medicine. Now whilst a huge fan of the satire genre of comedy, I tend to avoid it when I want to relax, after all I don’t particularly want a reminder of how fucked the world is when trying to relax.
My personal favourites to wind down with are Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue on BBC Radio 4.
Cabin Pressure stars Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole and John Finnemore in a BBC Radio 4 sitcom that centres on the crew of a a single charter areoplane. With 27 episodes at length of half hour each, they’re a perfect length to take a breather and laugh along to the escapades of the ‘MJN’ crew. The show is heavily character driven, and focuses mainly on clever wordplay, witty dialouge between its characters and like any great sitcom, running gags.
ISIHAC is a long running radio comedy panel game show on BBC Radio 4, self-described as “the antidote to panel games”. It consists of two teams of two comedians, who are then “given silly things to do” by the chairman. The original chairman of the show was Humphrey Lyttelton until his death in 2008, and the chairman is now Jack Dee with regular panelists Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden. ISIHAC can often be found on the BBC Radio iPlayer app.
3. get out
A change of scenery does the world of good! Every now and again, after a stressful day at work, and I know that if I go home I’m just going to wallow in self pity and drive myself further into the ground, so I’ll stay on the bus for a couple of extra stops and then wonder down to a cafe or a Starbucks where social convention prevents me from throwing myself onto the floor and sobbing like a baby. Not to mention a giant mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream or roasted marshmallows really does warm up and mellow out your insides.
Its also a good idea to talk a walk, get a bit of exercise and some fresh air. Just picking a direction and wondering along will also take your mind off your troubles as you walk along taking the sights in and hopefully remembering the way so you don’t get lost ;). Living in such a beautiful city as Edinburgh, I find myself in the most beautiful streets. Yesterday I took a lovely stroll over to Grassmarket and along Victoria Street – which was the inspiration to Diagon Alley – and spent an hour or so perusing the old book stores and getting lost in the old victorian tomes. Whilst on my travels I even stopped for a bit to watch a street performer and his fire juggling act.
4. take on a project
Take your mind off your worries by making sure theres no room in that head for them. I am an alright cook, I can follow a recipe alright but beyond that I have no knowledge. Im also a terribly lazy cook. But over the last couple of days I have been doing a little baking. And to be honest, I’m quite proud of myself. Don’t get me wrong some of my creations were not as I desired and tasted truly disgusting – banana pancakes i’m looking at you. But some – chocolate brownies – were goddamn delicious.
As I have the quite bizarre and unfortunate of being allergic to fresh fruit I have been looking at other ways in which I can incorporate fruit into my life again. Beginning with bananas, I recently had a trail mix that contained some delightful banana chips and decided ‘surely it cant be too hard to make those!’. No turns out not too hard to make, chop the banana, coat in lemon juice and bake for about 6-8 hours. Unfortunately they really didnt taste too great, clearly whatever conservatives or sweeteners they add to the chips for trail mixes is very much needed for a good taste.
Something that I really miss from my California days is IHOP and their obsession for breakfast foods like french toast. For some reason french toast just isn’t really a thing over here in the UK but i’ve been craving it for a few weeks now and decided i’d try my hand at it. It is exceedingly simple, but the last time I tried it, it didn’t turn out very good at all. This time however, I remembered to buy the vanilla flavouring and the cinnamon! Score Jamie! The french toast was a success and drizzled with maple syrup it was indeed, goddamn delicious. I even got up early the next day to make some for breakfast with a few slices of bacon, yummmmyyy!
Let me know how you like “chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool..”
Over and out. X.