I've been experimenting with introducing moments of relaxation into my every day. For me, that includes some amount of alone time. I recently realized that I have not been giving myself my alone time. I added it back to my work day a couple of weeks ago and I found myself to be calmer at work.
I sometimes worry that I appear "anti-social" because I choose to eat lunch alone. I enjoy my co-workers...but, like I said, without my alone time, I may not be at my best.
I've recently found a break out room at work that is rarely in use around lunch time. I've been disappearing in there with my iPhone or book or magazine for my lunch hour.
Today, I read portions of the most recent issue of Martha Stewart Living. Actually, I looked at many of the beautiful photographs and read one (that's right, only one) article.
The article was approximately two pages and spoke to me with tidbits I didn't know had been researched and that I find exciting. Forgive me for not remembering the title of the article or the author. But, if you decide you want to seek out the article, it should be pretty obvious which one it is (once I explain).
The article was about the psychological benefits of creating crafts. As you know, I've recently taken up painting as a hobby and I find that time stands still when I'm "in the zone". When I complete my work I'm both "spent" and refreshed. It doesn't make sense that I would be both things at the same time.
The article explained that crafting can have similar benefits to meditation. It said that the physical and creative part of crafting required full presence and the part of the brain that "problem-solves" (my word) has to turn itself off during the craft project. The mind can not just "turn off" on its own. But when the brain is engaged in something that takes full concentration, the mind can take a rest from the constant thinking and problem solving that it gravitates to.
The article quoted a psychology researcher and explained how different locations of the brain are engaged in different activities and how making sure that the brain gets some "down time" helps a person gain the feeling of relaxation when crafting. There are some releases of feel-good hormones as well. One is released because of the physical repetitiveness of an activity. One is released with the pleasure of something beautiful and yet another is released if the project is being created as a gift. One factoid I remember is that some crafts (it specifically referred to knitting) can have the same relaxing result as petting a dog or a cat. --We've all heard the studies of how petting a dog or cat reduces blood pressure and promotes heart health.
One thing I should point out is the MSL article emphasized that the act of creating was what produced the positive health and emotional benefits. The final result of the project was not material to the health results. The emphasis is on the "doing" of the thing.