It’s a beautiful Thursday afternoon here in Pennsylvania. Right now, it’s sixty-four degrees. It was sunny just an hour ago, but now there’s a light cloud cover. It’s perfect, though, because everything is still bright and I don’t have a blinding ball of pain melting my corneas.

I only have one more class today, advanced poetry writing, and I get to sleep in tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to have a big, delicious dinner. Maybe I’ll read for a little bit and go to sleep early, or maybe I’ll stay up late and write. This is a nice, chill day, and it’s the kind of day that makes me optimistic in a soft, content way.

I’m feeling wonderful—peaceful, Zen, and slow. Slowness is a good thing to feel sometimes. Most days, my thoughts feel like they’re moving through my brain so fast they’re blurs, and it’s exhausting to keep up. I can’t take in my surroundings or communicate with those around me. The external part of my body goes into autopilot as I run around in thought circles on the inside.

This is okay sometimes, but it becomes harmful when I can’t take a break. It’s important to be able to take that break regularly to let yourself catch up, reconnect with the external world, and clear your mind. Some of the best ways to do this are meditation and yoga, but these can be intimidating for beginners such as me, and they just end up becoming more frustrating than helpful. The following is a simple ritual I try to do every night to help me recharge and return to the present moment.

I start by flossing, just because it makes me feel clean, and it’s one of the first things I neglect when I start to let myself go. Making a point of flossing puts me in the mindset of self-care, and that gives me some positive energy.

I then take a warm shower. The key is to not let my mind wander to freely. I don’t force it to pay attention to what I’m doing, but I also don’t willingly entertain any thoughts that pass through.

After the shower, while my muscles are still warm, I stretch my entire body, slowly, from my neck down to my ankles, trying to hit every single muscle. While I’m stretching, I listen to relaxing music like waterfalls or Irish meditation. I dim the lights and keep my door shut.

When my body feels loose and relaxed, I set an alarm for five minutes, sit in a comfy spot on my futon cross-legged, and close my eyes. I focus on my breathing, trying as hard as I can to center my thoughts on the present moment. I imagine descending a staircase into myself. I hold onto this for as long as possible; five minutes is a lot longer than it sounds.

After this, I’ll usually have two cups of green tea and read or something until I fall asleep. It feels great, and the mindfulness usually lasts through the next day. I just wanted to share this in case anyone is looking for ways to slow down the racing thoughts in their head. Feel free to share any special rituals you go through to recharge your mind.

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