Complaining (or bragging) about how many hours you worked, soothing existential pain at happy hour and internally weeping over the price of rent are cultural staples for many young Washingtonians. There's no getting around the fact that The District, for all its perks, can be a stressful place to live. Here's where you can go to take a deep breath and calm down.
1. Shaw Yoga's Restorative practice
You're probably reading this and thinking "oh, yoga to calm down? About as groundbreaking as florals for spring." But before you roll your eyes, try dropping in on a restorative yoga class at Shaw Yoga. Unlike yoga classes that focus on toning and flexibility, the restorative practice is about centering your mind and slowing down. The hour-long classes typically involve about five movements that you hold for a longer period of time, which encourages practitioners to stay grounded and focused on their breathing. The instructor will also come by and cover you in blankets so you can feel cozy and safe. This class is also a really great entry point for people who have never tried yoga - I went in after an injury and the instructor was conscientious and accommodating.
Sometimes that 3 p.m. slump hits you like a ton of bricks. Enter Recharj, a meditation-and-napping spot in downtown and Bethesda. You can pop in, take a 20-minute break from the chaos of the office and walk out feeling like a new person. Although I personally prefer the nap option, Recharj offers several types of meditation classes so you can pick what you need.
3. On the water
The weather is just warm enough to head to the water and go kayaking. If it's not a game day, Boating in DC's kayak rental spot in Navy Yard is a great option for a solo ride - it's just far enough away from the tourist spots for you to find some space. The water around the Anacostia is calm enough that you don't need to be an expert, but you may get a little wet if a boat passes you.
4. Kogod Courtyard
There's a collective, unspoken agreement that no one really speaks loudly in the Kogood Courtyard. Wedged between the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum, it's not uncommon to see there quietly working, eating lunch or sneaking in a nap during their lunch break. Be warned - things can get a little noisy right now due to the lines to see the Obamas' portraits, but hopefully the tranquility will return soon.
Everyone seems to forget about the Kreeger Museum - it's far away from The Mall and they're only open 6 hours a day. However, the peace there borders on divine. The art collection boasts paintings by Monet and Picasso and the gardens are filled with statues. This gem is a great place to get your culture fix in peace.