The overarching philosophy of the West Coast is easier said than done. Especially when you’ve just moved to Los Angeles.
So far, in my three weeks here, I’ve accumulated three parking tickets. I don’t even own a car yet; I’ve only borrowed a friend’s. My time has been spent making out checks for large amounts of money and exchanging them for places to live. I’ve been looking for a job, applying for grants, submitting manuscripts, registering for classes, and handing over information to car salesmen, insurance agents, and well, to be honest, one or two OkCupid dates. So yes, stress is currently a large factor in my life
With all this currently in the works, I’ve made it a mission to relax as much as possible, while still getting things done. Here are 5 tips that have worked for me:
1. Your mom’s pajamas are right— ‘Stressed’ spelled backwards reads ‘desserts.’
Nothing beats a good, old fashioned binge session. Ramekin on N.Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz serves up heaping portions of homemade ice cream and warm cobblers, tarts, cookies, and the like. The berry cobbler is a must-have. Take some time out of your day—and your diet—to enjoy cold ice cream on hot baked goods.
2. Yoga is really popular here for a reason.
I used to be a hater. While living in New York, I could not see the point in lugging a change of clothes and a mat around to have to run another errand and get really sweaty after a long day at work. But then I read a line in Jenny Offill’s novel Dept. of Speculation—the main character, like me, didn’t understand the hype. But once she finally tried yoga, she loved the pose where you got to pretend you’re dead. Shavasana, the final part of any yoga flow, means “corpse pose.” The practice of yoga gets ya focused and breathin’ real good, and you’re rewarded for exercising with a nap at the end. So relaxing. Yoga studios abound here in LA, but if you’re broke or self-conscious (me!) Do Yoga With Me has a ton of free videos.
3. Take a hike! And I mean that in a nice way 🙂
There’s no better way to beat stress than to sweat it out. To get your mind off what is troubling you, make a good playlist, and set out on one of the many trails here in the Hills. Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park, Topanga State Park, Laurel Canyon and Will Rogers State Historic Park are all great places to find access ways to paths. You can even hike to the Hollywood sign, so you can take a selfie pretending to eat the ‘H’ and then put that as your profile picture. Just kidding, do not do that.
4. Contemplate the meaningless of human existence.
It’s not that I want to stress you out further—really, there is so much beauty in the collective furtive efforts of mankind! Okay, maybe don’t think about it that way. But once you go to Griffith Observatory at dusk to watch the sky fade in amazingly pollution-tinted hues, and look across the vast sprawl of the City of Angels, you’ll feel like a God, looking down at mini strands of headlights, obediently progressing in little lines of traffic. Hey man, we’re all in this together. Usually every four Saturdays, there are free Public Star Parties, where you can look at the moon, stars, and visible planets through telescopes. Volunteer astronomers are on hand for any planetary inquiries (but not existential crises).
5. Laughter is the best medicine, or so I’ve repeatedly been told by Reader’s Digest.
If I had a dollar for every time someone used the expression “if I had a dollar…” I would have so many dollars. And if I went to every free stand-up show in LA, I would have a lot of laughs. And laughter really is good for you—it boosts your energy, aids your immune system, decreases blood pressure, triggers endorphins, and relaxes your muscles. UCB, Groundlings, The Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, the Lyric-Hyperion Theater, Little Joy, and more all offer awesome free sets. Check ‘em.
If you blow all these options and still don’t mind relief, there is one big answer that most Californians would be happy to pass along to you. You know what I mean. Weed. Marijuana. Smoke pot and stay calm.