We all know meditation is great for us, but here are six lesser-known relaxation methods. From screaming into pillows to being set on fire, people have found some pretty weird techniques.
It’s long been said that meditation is one of the best relaxation methods you can use to reduce your stress, and recent scientific studies show how it can change your brain and how it works. But sitting still, deep breathing and related exercises like yoga and tai chi aren’t the only ways you can relax. Ever think about getting a human stem cell facial? Setting yourself on fire for calming effects?
Here are six ways people unwind. Maybe you’ll find your technique of choice among these unusual relaxation methods.
1. Screaming into Pillows
I used to have a psychiatrist who insisted, despite the fact that I lived with several roommates in a tiny NYC apartment, that I try screaming into pillows when I needed to relax. I never did try it, but I was amazed to learn there’s some real psychology behind this relaxation method. Not only was screaming an integral part of Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy in the 1960s, but the habit of screaming as a relaxation method has become so mainstream that it’s made its way into many colleges as a finals stress-relief technique. Janov also suggested kicking and rolling on the floor, but I think my old psychiatrist knew my apartment was way too small for all that.
2. Memorizing a Song or Poem
The center for mindfulness has a series of poems they recommend for relaxation, but the simple act of memorizing any poem or song can be relaxing. This relaxation method seems particularly quaint and calming in a world that allows us to walk around like amnesiacs with the assistance of smartphones and computers that hold all the information we need. When was the last time you memorized a phone number, let alone a poem? Give it a shot — it may calm you.
3. Making up Intricate Stories for Only Yourself
It’s known that telling children bedtime stories will help them relax enough to sleep. The tradition of making up stories on the spot still thrives in some cultures, but some people have discovered another version of this relaxation method.
For years, one woman I know has been writing novels in her head before she goes to sleep. She doesn’t ever commit them to paper, and part of what’s relaxing is keeping track of the intricate story lines without recording them.
Miranda Dubner, an editor and novelist, says a version of this technique has been her relaxation method of choice for years. “I have imaginary conversations, out loud, in a couple of different imaginary world-threads that have been with me since I was about seven or so. They always start the same way but branch out into different tangents…. It’s an introvert’s way of ‘spending time with friends.’”
4. Frying Onions
Cooking and baking are common relaxation methods, but here is an odd twist: Skyler Bode, a musician, is a fan of frying onions for its calming effect. “The full sensory gestalt of chopped onions hitting a hot oiled pan is my happy place,” he said.
When I asked whether he fried onions for eating or for pure relaxation, he said it was the latter. “I’ve taken to just going and doing it when I feel real stressed, as a way to relax and ground. Sometimes I segue straight into making dinner, and other times I lower the heat, poke them occasionally until they caramelize (which takes like an hour) and store them in the fridge until the next time we’re having something that caramelized onions would be good in.”
If you love fried onions, put this on your list of relaxation methods to try.
5. Human Placenta Facials
Everybody loves a good spa day: getting a manicure, pedicure, massage…or human placenta facial?
Yes, that’s right. Though the practice of using sheep placenta has been around for some time, a 2016 Times of India article describes the human placenta facial as “the hottest skin rejuvenating trend.” Livestrong suggests the treatment promotes skin elasticity by using stem cells and increases collagen production, which leads to anti-aging effects. It may not be surprising, though, that with the rise in recent times of businesses that make jerky and pills out of human placenta (despite medical warnings against ingesting one’s own organs), rubbing it all over one’s face wasn’t too many steps behind.
6. Huo Liao (Getting Set on Fire)
Don’t try this one at home!
Videos have been making the rounds of Huo Liao, a Chinese relaxation method that is also called “flaming towels.” In the perfectly calming, relaxing video above, you will see a woman having alcohol-soaked towels placed on her, being lit on fire and having the flames rapidly snuffed out by a technician who somehow never once loses her cool.
GQ wrote up this hilarious series of questions about the version in which men have their testicles set on fire.
What’s your relaxation method of choice?