In our time everyone should know what a trend is. If you do not know what a trend is, you would have at least heard the word recently. When you listen to your favourite morning radio show, the presenters will tell you what’s trending in social media. When you flip through your newspaper or magazine, you will see trendy new ways to decorate your home. Or you might see what is trendy according to some actress or sportsman. The fact of the matter is, trends are what’s trending right now. But what does this have to do with resting? Surely sleeping is not trendy? Is it “cool” to relax?

Twenty years ago, I would have said no without a moment’s hesitation. Now, however, I would be lying if I said that relaxing and resting hasn’t turned into a trend. All over the world people are trying to pack as many activities into their busy schedules. People are becoming increasingly busy with different hobbies. We are more aware of the wide variety of activities out there. Earth is truly becoming a global village. There is a MacDonald’s on every second street corner and football is played on almost every continent. In schools, children get exposed to a multitude of sports and cultural activities. Parents want to brag with their child’s achievements, so they force the poor kid to be on the debate team, to play chess and to play rugby…

No wonder people are so stressed out! Because we are so busy doing everything else, sleep has become a luxury. That is why it is becoming increasingly difficult to relax.

What makes a trend trendy?

Please open another tab in your browser and type the word “trend” in the search bar. I am not sure what happens if you use Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, but if you use Google Chrome one of the dictionary descriptions right at the top of the results page says this:

“(of a topic) be the subject of many posts on a social media website or application within a short period of time.”

Quite insightful, if you ask me. Actually I struggle to come to terms with this. It just baffles me to think that social media has such a massive influence on our daily lives that it has the power to change the description of a word in the dictionary. I don’t know about you, but I find it discomforting to know that so much power is vested in social media.

Anyway, I digress. In more general terms, a trend describes how a certain something is changing or developing. The word is widely used, for instance, in the financial world you might hear people talking about the “market trend”. This is simply the way in which the particular market is moving. Okay, the actual market place in your town square is not moving, but the market for fresh produce is fluctuating because of the drought in the Western Cape. Or the gold price is changing (moving) because of the new ore deposits that are being exploited in the Andes Mountains. Make sense?

Trends on social media are therefore indicators of the general direction our society is taking. So if we say that it is becoming trendy to relax or sleep, it means that there is a worldwide movement towards optimising your sleeping patterns and improving your relaxation methods.

How do we relax?

There are as many different ways to relax as there are people on Earth. Some people prefer to sit and read a book, whilst others take a jog or go for a walk. But when you are swamped with work, your kids are crying and you are trying to finish your post-grad studies there might not be time to go for that desired jog or to read a couple of pages before you nod off.

Does this truly encompass all of our modern societies’ methods of relaxation? I certainly don’t think so! Reading and running can definitely not be the only ways to get rid of your anxiety. By the way, that is one of the meanings ascribed to relaxation; to get rid of your stress and anxiety. The Oxford Complete Wordfinder also describes the word relax in terms of making one’s body less tense and more supple.

So in order for you to relax, you must somehow calm your mind and release the tension in  your muscles. Get rid of that hollow feeling on your stomach that you get every time you approach your office block. Release that spasming tension in your back. Breathe.

Okay, it is easy to say that, but like, how do you release your #stress?

A focused man working on a sticker-covered laptop in a coffee shop

(Note: I am not a fan of the #hashtag and that I am simply using it here as a tool to create a feeling of trendiness.)

Now that we have the technical terms down, we can start looking at actual trendy methods of resting. Let me just warn you, there are some very interesting people out there with some extreme ideas about relaxation…

First on our list of trendy ways to relax: The Japanese art of Adult Wrapping

Just give me a moment to stop laughing…

Thank you.

Oh wait, not yet.

Okay that should do it.

Apologies folks. This one just cracks me up! Adult Wrapping! Can you believe it? There is actually such a thing as adult wrapping! At first it sounds quite dodgy, but it is not. It is just funny to see it. I could not get any free to use pictures of adult wrapping, but please do yourselves a favour and google it. It is amazing!

So what is this adult wrapping? Nobuko Wantanabe, a Japanese designer invented a way of wrapping adults in sheets so as to help them relax. The person getting wrapped must lie in the classic fetus position and once he or she is securely wrapped up, relax all of their muscles and gently sway from side to side. Apparently this can improve your posture and flexibility, as well as aid your digestive system and peristalses.

After writing this down, I actually feel like trying it. All of a sudden it sounds more appealing than funny to me. I mean, when you think about it, relaxing all of your muscles into a restraining sheet sounds like fun! Plus if you have proper bowel movements, your entire body is less tense.

Which brings us to the next trend in healthy relaxation. Food.

A salad mixed with chicken noodle soup.

Food is absolutely central to our lives. More so than sleeping. Sure, we cannot survive without either one, but we tend to put a lot more effort into our food and eating habits than into sleep. When it comes to sleeping, the ideal would have been to put no effort into it at all. Wouldn’t it have been great if you could just put your head down on the pillow and float off into a dreamless, deep slumber? Unfortunately our way of living does not promote healthy sleeping patterns…

Back to food.

Eating what is right for you has been trending for some time now. If you haven’t noticed, western civilisation is always promoting the self. Individuality is becoming more important than family. Society is all for doing what feels right for yourself, no matter what the consequences to those around you. And when it comes to eating, what society expects of you is no different. Put tradition and those restricting social bonds behind you. Just eat what you want and when you want. Why go to family dinner if you can eat a healthy salad while you are on your way to gym or yoga class, right? (Once again take note that I do not agree with these statements, I am merely regurgitating the trendiness associated with food.)

Basically what people are saying is that you should find out which food type is best for your body. This is not a bad idea. What irks me is that they want you to eat it at your own time. Essentially this robs you of time to physically interact with someone, which will lead to more time spent with your new best friend, the mobile phone.

Please bear with me. As you can see I do not always agree with what is trending and I certainly do not agree with all of this individualistic talk going around. Sure, be yourself, but not at the expense of others. Eat what you like, but do it with someone else that is eating what he or she likes.

Besides, it has been scientifically proven that eating what your body craves is more healthy than eating what everyone else is eating.

Then there is this other phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or in short ASMR

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this. It is a strange sensation associated with relaxing because of an external influence. There is not a lot of scientific research about this phenomenon, but there are a myriad of has-been insomniacs that claim ASMR has changed their lives for good.

Next time when you can’t fall asleep, go on YouTube and search for ASMR videos or sound clips. There are hundreds of thousands of videos out there! What are all of these videos about? Well it is mostly soft sounds. Some people that cannot fall asleep on their own found that listening to the soothing sound of someone else’s whispers can induce sleep. Others prefer to hear the sound of a pen scratching paper. Another popular sound is that of pages being turned. Apparently when you listen to these sounds for long enough, you will get a tingly sensation that will spread over your body from the top of your skull. Quite a euphoric experience, according to people that have experienced ASMR.

Breathing, stretching and keeping the right posture is also quite trendy. We are talking about yoga.

Some of you might think that yoga is a form of devil worship or worse. While in actuality, it is simply a method for stretching muscles, improving flexibility and breathing. You do not need to burn incense and chant mantras to do yoga.

Having said that, it is becoming the trend to not only stimulate your muscles whilst doing yoga, but to enhance the experience by stimulating smell, sight and hearing as well. Yogis in the United States are promoting an all senses stimulation type of yoga. They claim that looking at beautiful scenery and smelling pleasant scents improves your overall mood and posture.

And here is what’s trending in my head right now: sleep.

I’m done eating what’s best for me at the moment, and the constant sound of my typing has induced a tingling sensation behind my eyes. Unfortunately this sensation is known as a migraine and not as ASMR. The best way to deal with those at this time of the day is to sleep it off. Therefore I bid thee adieu! Sleep well and try to keep up with the trends (or not, your choice).

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