05/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Treat Yourself to a Perfect PJ Day

Stressed? Join the club, and schedule some R and R. But, when work and life responsibilities mean that all we can afford is a "stay-cation," these tips will help make your day off restful and refreshing.

• Pre-PJ Day: If you've got "obligations" (pets, kids, spouse, all of the above), enlist someone to fill-in while you take a break. A low-cost way to arrange time off is to trade off duties with a spouse or friend -- they'll cover for you and then you return the favor. (G-rated duties, of course. If your more risqué activities have become a duty, well, that's a different column.)

• PJ Day: Sleep in -- but not too much. No, you don't have to set the alarm for oh-dark-thirty. But, when you feel yourself naturally waking up, hop out of bed. Sleeping in too late can disturb your natural sleep cycle and you can feel foggy and groggy all day.

• PJs are great. But do brush your teeth, wash your face, and comb your hair. You'll feel better about you.

• Don't skip breakfast. Instead, treat yourself to fruits, grains, and low fat dairy. Leave the cereal bars for the days you are racing out the door.

• Go to your "Me List". What's a "Me List"? It's the list you should keep with all the things you want to do for yourself "when you have the time someday". No, don't confuse it with the "To Do List", the never-ending list of chores that pile up when you're busy. Chores like laundry, housecleaning, or even clearing out the accumulated unwatched shows on your DVR. (Unless they're starring Mark Valley or Simon Baker.) Instead, pick one of the "Me List" items and go for it.

• Sometimes it's great to have a few hours alone. We don't often give ourselves time to reflect, process, and just "be." But if you're finding yourself anxious, lonely, or blue, head for the phone not the fridge, and call a friend. You want to feel better at day's end, not regretful.

• Beware the "good book" with which you might curl up. Some folks enjoy ready angsty-lit for its catharsis -- but, on PJ day, you might want to keep your reading list on the light side to avoid adding characters' issues to your own.

• A short nap is a wonderful luxury. But try to avoid conking out for much of the day. You may have trouble sleeping later at night. Alternating rest with mild to moderate physical activity will help you stay limber and clear-headed. However, avoid heavy workouts close to bedtime -- they may keep you awake.

• If you like to putter in the kitchen, PJ days are a perfect time to try out a new recipe for lunch or dinner -- especially salad, fruit, and seafood dishes that leave you energized but not stuffed. Microwave mamas like me may enjoy a packaged grocery salad with feta cheese or some steamed veggies with lemon and olive oil. Closing my eyes as I chew, I can almost see the Mediterranean.

• Don't hesitate to have a mental pajama day. If your "Me List" includes outdoor activities such as going to the park, ambling through stores, hiking, movies, or visiting friends, get dressed and go. Just pretend you're wearing pajamas in your head -- in other words, make it a low-key, low pressure outing. (Marathon training not allowed for 24 hours.)

Finally, on PJ day, give yourself permission to not meet any expectations -- or even have any expectations, especially of yourself. Pick and choose any activities -- or suggestions -- that will help you feel calm and happy, and ignore the rest. Tomorrow is another day, and you'll be able to face work and life obligations more effectively if you've been your own "boss" for a stretch. So, pull on those Dr. Denton's, put your feet up, and enjoy!

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