Tiny luxuries
August 8, 2017 3:59 AM   Subscribe

I've had a rough several days, personally and professionally. If this were winter, I would snuggle into my warmest blanket with some hot chocolate and watch Blackadder. What's the best summertime equivalent that can become my ritual to detach and laugh at the world?

Things I have tried/enjoyed in the past: weekend picnics, but then I felt bad about picnicking solo when the rest of the square was full of romantic couples and young families. Hiking, though it's been very humid and rainy here, and I'm dependent on public transit which makes getting to hiking areas a little more challenging. I've been geocaching in the past and enjoyed it, but I'm not sure it would be as fun solo. I'm not a big tea drinker, though I like coffee. Whatever this is, I'd like to keep it under $10, or 30 min, so that it's something sustainable I can do on a regular basis.

Bonus points for something I can do during a workday, which is where most of the stress really comes from. I work in a govt building somewhat removed from anything else, so can't easily grab coffee, lunch, or a snack unless I bring it myself.
posted by basalganglia to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
The summer equivalent of warm blanket/hot cocoa/Blackadder for me is air conditioning/hyponotiq+pineapple juice/ a few episodes of a Sherwood Schwartz sitcom.
posted by apparently at 4:19 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

A fruity blended drink by a calm pool and a book is the équivalant for me. Being in the sun also has the effect of tiring me out a little so when I come back in to my air conditioned apartment I cuddle up in bed and take a good nap.
posted by raccoon409 at 4:22 AM on August 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

Breakfast (before it gets too hot) outside at a nice bakery/cafe with a book does it for me. Though I also second racoon409's suggestion.
posted by hought20 at 4:37 AM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Even though it's hot i find being outside for a bit, even when it's humid, I bring a small blanket or towel out to an area with long grass and weeds, or better yet a garden or park, and lie on the ground and look at the clouds. Lying on the ground is very energizing -- it's a big magnet! Ten minutes of being on the ground in a non-air conditioned atmosphere does wonders for me. Take a very large container of water and drink all of it, wherever you are. Bring headphones and put on ambient music if nature sounds aren't around. I think taking advantage of the season is more in line with relaxing rather than seeking air conditioning, sometimes.

At home I like to fill the tub with the coldest water possible and plunge myself into it for 10 minutes. Get out, dry off, put a big robe on and climb into bed!

I make Kambucha at home that is very dry and fizzy. It's my goto drink for relaxing with a drink in the summertime. Of course you can buy it, too.

On Netflix I liked the Santa Clarita Diet, Lous CK (his series is called "Loui"), and am currently watching Gypsy, starring Naomi Watts. This show isn't funny but I love Naomi and seeing her in a series is pretty cool.
posted by waving at 4:55 AM on August 8, 2017

Hammock if you can find/get one! It's hard to watch TV in a hammock, but if there are any podcasts you like, hammocks are great for podcasts. Or a trashy book in the genre of your choice.
posted by mskyle at 5:19 AM on August 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I listen to fado with the fan on high and the curtains closed. It's the only thing I enjoy in hot weather.
posted by winna at 5:24 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

May I suggest a sheet instead of a blanket/towel to lie on grass/sand. I grew up at the beach and we all knew sheets were better because it's a closer weave than blankets so less matter can creep through, and it's cooler than a blanket. Also, it folds up smaller. Also also, it weighs less. That said, I take a tepid bath/shower, pat almost dry, throw on a thin cotton caftan, go commando, sit on a lounge with feet up, drink an Arnold Palmer, read a book, have a fan blowing on you for evaporative cooling.
posted by MovableBookLady at 5:52 AM on August 8, 2017 [10 favorites]

My summertime lunch time de-stress maneuver (when the weather has been on my side) is to pop in some headphones and listen to funny podcasts and walk around for like 30-45 minutes. Some of my favorite funny podcasts are Sawbones, Judge John Hodgman, The Read, Myths and Legends, and Beef and Dairy Network, but there's probably loads of others. (Although, if you're a Blackadder fan, Beef and Dairy Network might be...maybe not up your alley, but certainly adjacent.)

At home, my go-tos are: drink beer and/or La Croix on my porch with a book; clamber into comfiest chair with La Croix and binge watch a TV show I've been meaning to watch forever; make a nice-ish dinner and eat at the table while reading eBooks on my phone.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:16 AM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ice cream. with booze on it if you like that (eg a float of vanilla ice cream and black rum.)

Hot humid weather is gross but its one redeeming value is how wonderful it is on the muscles. Maybe a stretching session outside and then go inside for a cool shower and a big glass of good lemonade.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:18 AM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

For work recharge: the 15 minute catnap. Requirements: somewhere you won't be bothered for a short period of time: office with a door, inconspicuous chair in an unoccupied meeting room, library. A hat or sweater to drape over your eyes. Best if you can lean back and put your feet up. Set a phone timer to vibrate. Best recharge ever.

Can't nap at work? Make yourself coffee/tea/get a cold beverage from the fridge (even if it's just bottle of water you put in there yourself. It makes you get up and walk around a bit and later it will require you get up to pee. I recommend at least twice a day, morning & afternoon.

Also: set timers to encourage you to stand up, stretch out your shoulders, neck, anywhere you hold tension. Then sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. A minute is nice, but even five slow, even breaths can help.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:01 AM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

For a break at work I like to walk a few blocks to a coffee shop and get an iced coffee. I realize that doesn't really work for your context, but you could keep a stash of some nice beverage at work and... walk around with one.

At home I recharge by wearing comfy clothes and sitting on the front steps with coffee or LaCroix or wine, or by lying in the hammock, or by pulling weeds and planting things in the garden.

Pokemon Go can be a fun diversion for a bit too, and doesn't necessarily require being near anything in particular.
posted by adiabatic at 7:47 AM on August 8, 2017

Walking is a good de-stresser, but not if you only think about work and other problems. For work, load lively music or interesting, funny podcasts (probably not news) and listen and walk. If it's too hot or humid, maybe climb stairs in the building.
posted by theora55 at 8:27 AM on August 8, 2017

At work:
listen to relaxing, calming music of your choice to help keep your mind away from the stress.
Short walks outside for fresh air, sunshine, and to stare off at the trees. Looking at greenery is supposed to help us handle stress better.
On that note, bring a small succulent or other hardy plant to keep on your desk
Personalize your office space, as appropriate, with items that bring a smile to your face and remind you of the positive aspects of your life independent of work.
Step away from your work and remember to text or call someone you care about just to tell them you're thinking of them and wishing them a great day. Even if your day is not the best, bringing joy to others has the effect of lifting yourself up and strengthening your relationships.
If you generally like coffee more than tea, you may potentially like chai masala as a caffeinated beverage.
Take some quiet time to just meditate.
If you are feeling stressed out but really can't get away from work, switch to a more rote, mundane task that needs to be done that you can do while on autopilot.
Make sure you're eating well at work, whatever you bring for lunch and snacks, so that low blood sugar or lack of protein isn't contributing to the challenges at the office.

Outside of work:
Quiet walks, and picking up healthier habits in general. It helps build mental, physical, and emotional resilience.
Devote your 30 minutes to learning a new skill, something personally rewarding or joyful, so that it's just for you and fits in with your longer term vision for life. Dreaming of moving to France one day? Try a French language learning podcast, etc. Living well is the best revenge!
Replace something small in your home/life with an upgraded version, as a way to treat yourself. I replaced the trash can in my bathroom with something a little nicer. It was totally worth it.
Give something away that you no longer need. Even if it's one item, like a pair of shoes you no longer wear or a basket you don't really like and is just sitting around. Engaging in positive actions reminds you that you are a capable, empowered individual who is moving one step closer to improving your quality of life (by not letting unwanted things stick around). You can also peruse the secondhand shop for items that you may actually want in your life.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 8:33 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

One special thing about summer is wonderful produce is in season. I'd bring something delicious you can only get fresh in summer, maybe a new fruit each week, and take a real break in the afternoon to eat it. Leave the building, if possible. If your building is on any sort of grounds, even just a strip of grass, take it there. If there is nowhere outdoors, find a room or hallway where you don't normally go. If it's raining and you came in a car, sit in your car, blast tunes, listen to the rain on the roof, and enjoy your fruit in there.
posted by kapers at 10:00 AM on August 8, 2017

Lately I have started dissolving nice bath salts* in a small plastic tub filled with cool water and soaking my feet for 10-15 minutes. It's surprising how much it cheers me up and cools me off.

*I like to dissolve the salts in a bit of hot water first, then add it to the tub of cool water. Might be my imagination, but I feel like they dissolve more quickly than just dumping them straight into cold water.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Do something outdoors that gets you hot and sweaty. It doesn't have to be hiking! Bike, jog, jump rope, do whatever! Just do it in the sunshine!

THEN do a brief picnic in a patch of grass, it doesn't have to be at a park. Watermelon or lemonade or iced barley tea or a cold shower or whatever makes you feel great after you've worn yourself out in the hot summer sun.
posted by aniola at 1:42 PM on August 8, 2017

Is there a garden nearby? A water source (lakes and rivers and ponds are better, but any fountain or pool will do)? Someplace with a cool breeze?
If you can't find it, fake it -- a sweet-smelling plant (or some pine cones or cinnamon sticks), a desk fan, and a tape of water sounds. Put on your sunglasses, put up your feet, drink something cold and delicious, and relaaaaaaa....
posted by TrishaU at 5:27 PM on August 8, 2017

Do you knit or crochet? I love to crochet as a way of relaxing in the evening. I can watch TV at the same time, and it's generally very portable too (great for trips). Supplies are cheap until you get into really fancy yarns.
posted by cp311 at 11:15 PM on August 8, 2017

Learn to laugh at yourself instead of the world. It's really very liberating.
posted by WhitenoisE at 10:09 PM on August 10, 2017

I have a folding camp chair at work (a college). Sometimes I work through the usual lunch hour, then go out with my chair and sit under a tree to read or listen to music/podcast/audiobook, or even play ten minutes of the game Alto's Adventure (especially its "Zen Mode").

I used to take short breaks like this with my hammock, but the campus police have hassled me. I can still walk the four blocks to the riverfront downtown and hang my hammock, but when I've done this I find I get too drowsy...and I don't want to fall asleep and miss work!

Anyway, doing this regularly is very helpful to my stress If you want a one-off adventure, a hammock nap is very hard to beat.

(I hope you found a few good ideas above!).
posted by wenestvedt at 10:30 AM on September 2, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks all. Many helpful suggestions!
posted by basalganglia at 4:54 PM on September 7, 2017

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