Ah, the sweet benefits of relaxation. While the easiest way to relax may be to spend a blissed-out day at the spa, we don't all have the luxury (both time- and money-wise) to escape to the sauna or massage table.
Fortunately, in honor of National Relaxation Day, we've created a simple, hour-by-hour guide to a day of total (spa-free) stress relief. Challenge yourself to follow the relaxation schedule in honor of one of the best and, honestly, most-underrated holidays of the year. It is possible to find calm -- even in the middle of a hectic workday.
7 a.m. - Get up on the right side of the bed. Start your day off with a relaxing morning routine (and no, that doesn't include scrolling through Instagram). Have a cup of coffee, do a little yoga from your bed, go for a run or jot down some thoughts in a gratitude journal. The point is to savor the simple moments and not launch right into your tasks.
8 a.m. - Make your commute a present one. As you're traveling to work, take that time as an opportunity to practice a little mindfulness meditation, which research shows reduces stress. You'll be less annoyed by the crowded train or bumper-to-bumper traffic.
9 a.m. - Ignore your inbox. Don't check your email when you first arrive to the office. Some successful business executives avoid their inboxes first thing in the morning, Fast Company reports. As Tumblr founder David Karp explains, this method allows him to get his focus in check for the day.
10 a.m. - Inhale, exhale. Now that you've been at work for a little while, take a moment to pause for some deep breathing, which is your body's own built-in stress reliever. No time set aside to focus on your breath? Just letting out a few heavy sighs can help induce calm.
11 a.m. - Shake out your stress. After sitting for a while, we can start to get a little stiff (and as we've heard, sitting is the new smoking). Try some of these desk yoga posses or stretching exercises for a little relaxing break.
12 p.m. - Ditch your desk. Get up from your workspace and head outdoors. Taking a mental respite during your lunch break will allow you to come back to your work more relaxed and refreshed. Studies show that eating lunch at your desk is actually making you more stressed and less creative, anyway.
1 p.m. - Grab some Zzs. Take a 10- to 20-minute power snooze. Research shows that a quick nap can boost your mood, creativity and alertness, as well as zap stress. And you thought sleeping on the job was unproductive!
2 p.m. - Watch that puppy video. Breaks are important to relaxation, even if it's just a few minutes of silly YouTube videos. A recent University of Cincinnati study found that taking a digital break can keep you refreshed and productive throughout the workday. Besides, why wouldn't you want to pause to look at this dog doing yoga?
3 p.m. - Swap coffee for fragrance. If you're feeling tired and overwhelmed, consider swapping that afternoon pick-me-up for a little aromatherapy. Studies show that the scent of pine can alleviate stress, the smell of lavender can make you feel more relaxed and a whiff of citrus may help energize you.
4 p.m. - Jam out. Plug out of the office chatter and plug into some music. Whether it's a classical tune or an upbeat hit, research shows listening to music can help boost your mood -- the perfect way to squash that stress. Looking for the perfect playlist? Give these productivity sounds or these worry-free tunes a try.
5 p.m. - Make your "done" list. If you're someone who has an ever-growing to-do list, chances are just merely glancing at it can get a little stressful. And if it's not completed by the end of the day, that stress can seem to increase tenfold. Enter the "done" list. Make a point to write down all of your accomplishments and completed tasks toward the end of the day -- you'll close your work day a lot more relaxed and happier.
6 p.m. - Indulge in more mindfulness on your ride home. Just as you did this morning, take a little time to be mindful on the commute home. It's the perfect time to unwind from the events of the day and just be with your own thoughts.
7 p.m. - Log some quality time with your loved ones. There's nothing like being in the company of your friends and family -- and research shows that time you log can help reduce stress. Share highlights from your day with them. Just be careful when it comes to venting: Studies suggest that stress is a contagious emotion and can flourish when you're talking about negative situations with others.
8 p.m. - Play fetch with Fido. Our pets can be our secret weapons when it comes to unwinding. Research suggests that pet owners are less stressed and more active than those who are not. Not a bad reason to love man's best friend.
9 p.m. - Meditate, meditate, meditate. We can't rave enough about the benefits of meditation. The practice can immediately relax you, make you less stressed over time and even protect you against a cold. Why not give it a try before bed? If sitting in silence isn't your thing, give progressive relaxation a try (you can learn how to do it here). Whatever method you choose, carve out a little time for it right before you go to sleep.