Relaxing in the Digital Age
For Melissa DeHaven, a Southwest Florida development director, wife and mother, enjoying a bit of relaxation is a savored occasion. “My days are busy, and there isn’t a lot of time to relax,” says DeHaven.
For this on- the- go mom and others like her, the Internet has made it easier to find the place and the time to relax.
“I use the Internet often, but for more than just work- related or business- related reasons,” says DeHaven, who said that she also spends time on the Internet to free her mind and unwind. Often just a few minutes on the right website, such as one that provides good news, relaxing music, inspirational messages or meditative sounds, is all it takes for her to slow down and refocus.
According to reports, 70 percent of Americans have Internet access, and there are approximately 644 million active websites. While many Internet sites are businessoriented, news- oriented or shopping- oriented, there are also plenty of sites that offer a place to go relax and get happy.
“We have to have time out to recharge,” says Stacey C. Brown, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice and director of the Human Services Program at Edison State College.
“Taking even 10 minutes each day to just sit and do nothing and clear our mind
and breathe is helpful,” adds Brown, who emphasizes that time should be taken out every single day.
“We have to hit the reset button on our computers to force a start over. It’s the same with our brains,” says Brown, who explains that people try to do so much and multitask on top of it, that sometimes we’ve pressed too many buttons. Instead, we should press our own restart button.’’
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing and guided imagery, where pleasant thoughts replace negative ones, all accessible through the Internet, can help counteract the effects of long- term stress.
“Long- term stress can cause or worsen health problems such as depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure and insomnia,” Brown says.
There is a plethora of websites designed to free the mind. For example, calm. com offers visitors calming imagery and accompanying sound that they can set for a specific time limit, from two to 20 minutes. Visitors can also enjoy a guided calm that allows them to choose a scene and listen to a voice that guides them in relaxing for a specific time period of their choosing.
Those who want to release their worries might enjoy thequietplaceproject.com, where visitors can visit different rooms, such as the Dawn Room, where they can
I TRY TO GRAB A FEW PEACEFUL MOMENTS
BOTH BEFORE I START AND END MY DAY.”
wash away their sadness, or the Thoughts Room, where they can write down their thoughts and send them out into Internet space. There’s also a 90- second relaxation exercise that helps visitors to unwind.
Others who want to enjoy an uplifting story might enjoy happynews.com, a website where positive international real- world stories can be viewed, such as the recent, World’s 10 Most Beautiful Highways,” and “Canadian Man Born
— MELISSA DEHAVEN
Blind Sees for the First Time at Age 68.”
Comforting images can uplift our spirits and there are also websites designed to do just that. On cuteoverload.com, visitors can enjoy a gallery of imagery of animals such as a guinea pig in a colorful knitted sweater or a newborn baby gorilla at the zoo.
DeHaven enjoys listening to various meditation sounds and music that she finds through searches on YouTube, and
also listens to Norah Jones, an American singer and songwriter, via 2. norahjones.com.
“I try to grab a few peaceful moments both before I start and end my day,” says DeHaven, who also enjoys reading travel websites, such as kayak. com.
Brown has a few online favorites that she suggests, such as Daniel Amen, amenclinics.com, for nutrition and brain health; Jon Kabat Zinn, mindfulnesscds.com, for mindfulness and meditation, and Marianne Williamson, marianne. com, for reminders about miracles and gratefulness.
“Deepak Chopra, ( deepakchopra. com), also has helpful lessons and information on mindfulness, relaxation and letting go of stress,” Brown says.
While it’s important to relax in ways that don’t rely on a computer, such as walking, practicing yoga or taking part in meditation, it’s easier than ever to get away from it all thanks to the Internet. Just remember to bookmark your favorites. Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident who likes to kick back on the Internet when she isn’t working. Just a few minutes of relaxation every day can mean a lot and bring a smile to your face.
Melissa DeHaven spends time every day listening to relaxing music and letting her mind go free. It’s peaceful process that is an important part of her day.
Dr. Stacy Brown, director of the Human Services Program at Edison State College, says the Internet is a great way to reduce stress.
The website thequietplaceproject. com was designed to help people unwind.
Life can be stressful, even on the islands. But the Internet can take you anywhere you want to be with only a few clicks of the buttons.