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Does your face go completely blank when someone asks “What do you do to relax?” or “How do you take care of yourself?” 

Or, instead, does your reaction look something like this?

Whatever your reaction, the questions probably follow a conversation in which you’ve yammered on about a horribly busy week. Your loved ones, hearing this for the zillionth time, recognize a pattern. And they’re worried. Does she ever disconnect? Does she know how to unplug from the madness?

I don’t know about you, but these questions always cause anxiety for me –the opposite of their intention. It’s partially because, for me, the word “relax” conjures up images of massages, deep-breathing exercises, meditation, getaways on the beach, and bubble baths with rose petals floating around in them.

And no, I don’t do any of those things very often. I’m not even sure that I want to, honestly. So, this week, I decided to create relaxation my way. During a moment of angst a few days ago, I stopped everything work-related and decided to paint my nails. Yes, I did. In the middle of a workweek, in the midst of unanswered emails and pending meetings still requiring pre-meeting preparation. I painted my nails, remembering how skilled I am at doing so, and the instantaneous feeling of pride was delightful.

I smiled as I admired the sexy dark maroon color adorning my perfectly shaped-nails. If you’d snapped a photo at that moment, I would have been all relaxed shoulders, dreamy eyes, a full heart, and an unstoppable smile.

It was an inescapable moment of loveliness.

It got me thinking: is it possible to recalibrate our perception of what relaxation is? It doesn’t have to involve running away from normal life for hours. It also doesn’t have to look like gathering the girls and heading out to a trendy restaurant.

Perhaps we should be looking at the times we feel momentarily alive, delightful, and lovely. And perhaps, determining what those are, stringing together several of these, interchanging them, and mixing them into our “normal life” can lead to a more balanced existence.

After painting my nails, I got inspired and made a list of moments and activities with similarly smile-inducing results. It was a list much longer than anticipated. 

Here’s what makes me feel lovely:

  • A clean desk – makes me feel as though a huge weight has been lifted
  • Awakening from a 20-minute nap
  • Painted nails and toenails—connects me to my femininity
  • Making out with someone special – I mean, come on, it’s awesome Discovering new music, especially when it helps me get through a workout
  • Being drenched in sweat after a workout – I’m a 5’2 beast, ya’ll
  • Learning something new
  • Catching up by reading that book everyone one the planet has read (or, better yet, reading a book no one else has heard of)
  • A meal I’ve cooked from scratch (or only partially from a box)
  • An unplanned workout, just because I can
  • A pair of sexy heels—no explanation necessary
  • Mentoring the next generation of makers, thinkers and creatives
  • Supporting a friend’s new venture
  • Lots of laughter with great friend
  • A few yoga moves – they make me aware of my breath, my body, and my abilities
  • Golf – getting out to the range is a rare occasion these days, but the surroundings and the camaraderie are perfect. And, I have to admit, being one of the few women on the range makes me swell with pride, blowfish style.  (That is, until I swing at the ball and look down to discover it’s still sitting there. Ha!) 

That wasn’t so hard. As it turns out, I do know how to relax and have fun, no beach or bubble bath required. I’m pretty proud of this list. 

I find that making a list of your loveliest moments has the potential to do the following:

  • Reduce activities, people, and things that aren’t up to your lovely standards
  • Help you connect to the feeling of loveliness – the why behind these activities
  • Remind you that you do actually know how to take care of yourself, even if you slip sometimes
  • Inspire you to add more loveliness to your life.

Next time, when a worried loved one asks me what I do to relax, I’ll have an answer. Even better, this list is just a start – it’s an expanding recipe for fun and self-care. I’m making a commitment to add to it regularly – and to remember to pick something from it every now and then when things are crazy. 

Want to join me?

What’s on your list? We’d love to hear what makes you find those lovely moments amidst of the chaos of life.   

Dr. Lisa Jones is a physician and the Editor-in-Chief at CurvyGirlHealth . At CGH, she discusses her personal battles with self-care and documents her journey to seek insight and make life-long changes. read more about
  • Jattu Senesie

    I love the idea of “moments of loveliness”. I have sooo been there in the past trying to make up what I do for fun because I thought it had to be a big production to count. Now I focus on what makes me feel at peace and it really is usually the little things.

    • Lisa Jones

      Thanks @essenceofstrength:disqus! So happy my words resonate with you. Kudos to you for redefining “fun” and “relaxation”.