How to take a day off

Amidst the hustle and bustle of school and work, blood pressure can nearly boil over. Today, it is the Vanguard’s job to help its readers remember to take care of themselves. Ideally, I would prescribe a whole day spent in a bathrobe, but I know that sometimes scheduling won’t allow it. But if you’ve got three or four spare hours sometime, maybe you can devote a few of them to some of the following activities.

Calm down


Meditation is an effective and time-tested way to calm down. Find a place where you can sit with your back straight (if you lie down, you may fall asleep). Breathe in and out slowly, and try to count your breaths up to 21. If you get distracted and start thinking about something other than your breath, take a break for a moment and then start over again. It’s not easy to banish distractions altogether, but the effort can be rewarding. Some say that the ideal state of mind is like a still pond (the better to reflect the full moon).

Even if you don’t achieve Nirvana, smoothing out some of the ripples of consciousness is better than letting the surf roll over like it does.

Clean up

Cucumbers on the eyes, guacamole on the face – to me these rituals are alien. Call me old fashioned, but I never felt assiduous care for the skin to be one of my duties as a man. But still, in this post-MTV world in which we live, it seems unarguable that grooming oneself well is an indicator of stability and general well-being. Get a facial, pedicure, or manicure; or if you’re like me, just wash your face and have a shave. It turns out that putting a little bit of care into your appearance can lift your spirits dramatically, so indulge yourself and preen to your heart’s content. Unless you are spending the whole day in a bathrobe. In that case, you can let yourself go.

Feed your belly

Fixing a good meal can be therapeutic. Get some vegetables, some tofu, maybe one of your favorite desserts or drinks. You can’t go wrong with hot chocolate this time of year. If part of your day-off agenda includes laziness, you can avoid dirty dishes by going on a juice fast. In addition to eliminating a chore, this diet is said by many to encourage focus and relaxation. I don’t know if I’d recommend the extreme of whittling your diet all the way down to just water, but the average American could definitely stand to give a little more thought to what he or she eats.

Ears need love, too

Let me dispel a myth here – not all classical music is relaxing. But if you are in the mood for more traditional chamber music, here are some guidelines. Beethoven’s Ninth can be romantic, but a little intense. Sibelius’ music is beautiful, but dramatic and nationalistic. And for our purposes, Wagner’s harmonic meanderings are out of the question.

The first movement of Beethoven’s “Fifth Piano Concerto” is as graceful as they come, any piano music by Dubussy or Schumann will bring bliss, and the Mozart string quartets should do just fine. In general, anything that was written before 1750 is pretty safe.

Guide to future comfort

If you enjoyed the time you spent unwinding by any of these methods, you might consider switching careers to make more room for them. Most freelance writers and musicians can get away with staying home till 3 p.m. everyday. That schedule provides an ideal post-sleeping-in relaxation session. But if you’re not one of these lucky late-risers, keep your bathrobe on. You can get up early again tomorrow.