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Relaxation is Serious Business
Today’s world is in a big hurry to get things done. Short deadlines, commuter traffic, microwave ovens, cell phones and computers with faster and faster processors, we are always looking for the quickest way to do anything and everything because we are always in such a hurry! Relaxing? Who has time for that except lazy people?
Well, it turns out that relaxation is not just for the lazy. Relaxing is necessary for maintaining our mental and physical health. All work and no play have been linked to numerous health complications including an increased risk of heart problems and increased dementia risks.
Numerous studies show that stress is comparable to other risk factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise when it comes to increasing our risk of various health problems.
Relaxing improves your healthy by fighting stress and actually helps people manage situations better. Unfortunately, many people are too busy to relax, which only leads to even more stress. Is there anything worse than knowing that your body is dying for a vacation, for a chance to relax, but knowing that you can’t possibly take the time to relax because you have too many things to do?! It’s a matter of priorities, friends.
For some people, stress has become a habit. You probably know someone that has gone on vacation to relax, only to find out that this person took their laptop and did work on the beach or in the lobby of the hotel. The withdrawal of stress for some is similar to the withdrawal from steroids. Some stress addicts live for that adrenaline rush; so they seek out high pressure jobs or projects, continually pile up on new challenges, and some even go so far as to complicate projects, creating their own stress, just for the adrenaline high. Find out how to get rid of stress.
Relaxing, whether by reading a book, enjoying a hobby, or taking a bath, has several health benefits associated with it.
- Improves heart health – Stress reduction improves the immune function and has been shown to decrease inflammation in the body, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Increases energy levels – It might sound like a strange paradox, that relaxing, which uses very little energy, actually gives you a boost of energy, but it’s true. Relaxing recharges the body, which encourages more blood flow to the muscles.
- Reduces depression – Going all out every minute is not linked to happy feelings. Stress gets in the way of your ability to feel happiness and pleasure, which can lead to depression. Relaxing lowers stress hormones such as cortisol. Relaxing has been found to not only make people feel happier, but they have an overall sense of well-being and report that they feel less jealousy.
- Fights cancer– Studies show that stress doubles the risk of females to develop breast cancer in the future, while relaxing can delay the onset or the progression of the disease.
- Improves brain function – Chronic stress inhibits our ability to remember events or engage in the appropriate behavior for a given situation. Excessive stress without relaxation has been discovered to spike the proteins in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
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Relaxation Strategies for Dealing With Stress
- If you deal with stress from the people around you, consider distancing yourself from these people if possible.
- Schedule time for worrying. It might sound strange, but allowing yourself, for example, 10 minutes per day to worry, and then not allowing yourself to continue past that can actually reduce your overall stress and anxiety. This method works for many people.
- Stop trying to be perfect. Many areas of stress are self-induced. If it helps, tell yourself you are trying to be more “perfect” and a part of that is relaxing from time to time.
- Really take a break from work if you are going to take a break. Don’t do work on your cell phone or laptop when you take your kids to the park. Don’t return business calls while you are supposed to be watching a movie.
- Take care of the three pillars of good health – nutrition, exercise, and sleep. If one of these is out of whack or is lacking, you will not be able to deal with stress effectively.
- Practice doing nothing. We have been taught that multi-tasking is a skill everyone should master but that’s not true. This might be harder than you imagine, but once a day, for just 10 minutes, practice doing nothing. This means perhaps just drinking a cup of tea, staring out the window, or sitting on a park bench watching the birds or watching the kids play without feeling like you should be doing something or thinking about what you are going to do when you get back, for 10 minutes, practice doing nothing. Practice this every day until you are really, really good at it!
- Stop eating lunch at your desk! Get out of the office. Go anywhere; just don’t sit in the office. Read more about foods you can eat to relieve stress.
- Unplug. Although you don’t necessarily have to go all out and unplug everything, you can turn off the computer, and only answer your phone if it’s a true emergency. By the way, a co-worker texting you wondering why you didn’t answer her email about dinner plans within 5 minutes is NOT an emergency. She can wait 10 minutes longer.
- If you truly can’t seem to find time to relax, schedule the time. Seriously. Schedule time for YOU to relax. Learn to say NO and purge your schedule. Be brutal.
- Use your vacation time. Really use it! Go away and don’t answer work calls or work emails.
Everyone has their own idea about what is relaxing for them. Some people think slouching on the sofa in their PJ’s catching up on their favorite program is heaven. Others don’t want to spend a minute inside and find that gardening or hiking clears their minds. Other people like to read or write or do crafts. Whatever works for you, as long as it’s fun and you aren’t working, then that is the right thing for you.
Relaxing is some serious business, and it’s time you got busy!