Now more than ever, we need to learn to relax.
Unease is at an all-time high; in fact three out of four doctor’s visits are stress-related. In 2013, a study by the Massachusetts General Hospital found that being in a state of relaxation “produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.”
In other words: relaxation actually has tangible health benefits that could help you fend off sickness and maintain energy. A bit of it a day may even be powerful enough to combat the damage that stress is doing to your health.
So why has relaxation become more of a chore than a priority? And how can you reverse that?
Rethink your definition of relaxing
What does it mean to relax? If you look up the definition, you’ll find something like “to become less tense or anxious”. Now think about what you do to relax. Do those activities achieve the feeling of relaxation? See, we live in a world where people are always on the go. So much so that watching tv or playing video games has become synonymous with relaxation for a lot of people. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The next time you have free time to unwind, consider trying a relaxing activity rather than just defaulting to going comatose on the couch.
Unplug… and be okay with it
With technology playing such a huge part in our lives, it’s becoming increasingly easier to be plugged in 24/7. Work emails come to your phone after you leave the office, your Instagram feed is going a million miles an hour, and of course there’s that whole couch + tv = relaxation habit. Studies have shown that the presence of smartphones, tablets and laptops inhibit our brain’s ability to maintain the natural sleep-wake cycles. The next time you are feeling like you just can’t relax, try powering down your electronics, and be okay with it. No guilt allowed!
Listen to your body
It’s easy to weigh yourself down, both literally and figuratively, with the choices you make for your body. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and prioritizing sleep can work wonders for stress. Go back to basics and listen to how your body feels, and make changes accordingly. Not only will you make natural shifts that will help you feel more healthy, you will also be able to slow your mind and just feel.
Smell is one of the most powerful senses we have. It can let you know when danger is near, help with memory recall, and is highly emotive. Scents like lavender, rose, sandalwood and frankincense can all help relax your mind by slowing your brain waves. They also have antidepressant properties and can be a great way to manage stress. Try picking up some essential oils, and rub them on your neck or the bottoms of your feet when you are ready to relax!
Create a zen zone
They say you shouldn’t do anything in your bed except sleep (and have sex). So consider treating your place of relaxation in the same way. Create a zen zone in your home, and treat it like a temple for relaxation. Gather a few of your favorite things; anything that makes you smile, calms your mind and requires very little thinking is great. Bring something to make you comfortable too (think pillows or a blanket), and use this space as a place to clear your mind, even if just for a few minutes.
Relaxation should be a happy, healthy part of our lives. Make it your goal to truly relax for at least 5 minutes every single day for a week, and see how your body and mind feel.
Do you have any other tips for relaxation? What helps you get out of your mind and feeling carefree? Share!