I Like to Read. How Do You Unwind?


I distinctly recall spending a cozy, dark, early afternoon, curled up in a small-upholstered couch at the end of a hostel hallway overlooking Reykjavik Harbor in Iceland. It’s one of the most relaxing moments I can ever remember—sitting there, content, with a Steve Berry book, a dumb novel with a plot similar to Nicholas Cage’s National Treasure. It was a silly book, sensationalist and poorly written.

Yet I was on vacation from my stressful life back in New York. A few friends and I had planned a four-day getaway to Iceland, and I was able to finagle a few extra days, giving me this delicious time in a foreign country all to myself. There’s only four hours of sunlight in Iceland in January, and that makes for a cozy experience…when you’re inside. It makes reading a crappy book enjoyable.

Ever since I was young, I can remember staying in bed far after I had woken up, reading my Goosebumps books. I’ve always loved reading. I love the experience of shutting my mind off, and being transported to another world, and I’ve carried that passion with me into adulthood. It’s not always a crappy book. In fact, it’s usually not. I try to always be in the middle of one fiction and one non-fiction book at the same time, so I can always have one that suits my fancy.

For me, reading is my way of decompressing.

Everybody has his or her own way to just shut off. To lounge, to unwind, to just take a minute and let your mind wander. To let your mind shut off from whatever is worrying you at the moment. It could be getting into graduate school. It could be your boss giving you a hard time. It could mean you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life. Perhaps you have a shitty job, and you’re waiting to get some time off so you can go on a fun trip with some friends. Regardless of the reason, everyone needs alone time; time to unwind.

I’m someone that can go for days and days being around people and it doesn’t bother me, but I will hit a point where I need to have a few hours to myself; where I can't engage with others. I become not myself. I just need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and have some me time. I’ve been that way ever since I was little, and I need to know myself so that I can let my mind rest, unwind, and get ready to re-engage.

Everybody has their own thing that allows them to unwind. It might be video games, it might be yoga. For extroverts, it might be talking to other people. It might be driving out of town with the windows down. Maybe it’s going running, or biking, or watching films, or browsing the Internet, or crocheting—the list goes on and on, but these are all things that people enjoy doing. We enjoy throwing ourselves into these activities when we need a break form the world around us. It’s important that everybody has something like this, it’s not necessarily a hobby, but it’s a way to press the pause button on your life so that you can enjoy yourself. When you look back at your life, these very well might be the moments that you savor the most, the times when you simply take a break do something simple that you enjoy. For me, that moment in Iceland is one of those memories, and it sure is a fond one.