- Relax! It's important
Life is fast paced and stressful, and sometimes it can leave you feeling like you have no time to stop, think and reflect on the bigger picture. Relax. Seriously, the mental, physical and financial benefits of indulging in a little “me time” every now and again are vast. Focusing on yourself is not about shutting out the world, it’s about getting back in tune with it. It is not about ignoring all your responsibilities and hiding in your bed for days it’s about stepping back, gaining perspective and restoring your vitality.
Stress, relaxation and health
When you are stressed you are much more likely to become sick. This is because stress hormones suppress the immune response and its ability to fight germs these hormones can also make gastrointestinal symptoms worse, cause over-reactive airways in asthma patients, cause blood pressure spikes, damage your arteries, promote high cholesterol and lead to other health-related conditions, such as anxiety, depression, even addictions and obesity. In addition, stress-induced depression may lead to self-destructive behaviour, such as neglecting medications. Fortunately, research has shown that deep relaxation can have tremendous health benefits and reverse stress-induced ailments. People who suffer from asthma can sometimes widen their restricted respiratory passages through deep relaxation and sometimes diabetics can even reduce their need for insulin through the same techniques. Deep relaxation, however, does require a little more effort than sitting and reading a magazine but even a small amount of regular relaxation time can have long-standing benefits including energy, improved cardiovascular performance and life longevity.
Recognise when you need to relax
Stress is good for us at manageable levels. It motivates and provokes us, it also helps us keep our lives in order. Too much stress, however, is destructive to our bodies, lives and minds. It can cause us to overlook details, forget facts, dates and to skate through projects we're too stressed to finish. Unfortunately, far too many people do not recognise unhealthy stress and confuse it with ambition, dedication, industriousness or responsibility. Recognising when you need to relax is the key to begin doing so. If you have noticed that you are suffering from constant body aches, tension, irritability, irregular sleep patterns or even a lacking sense of humour you may be under too much stress. Also pay attention to the remarks of close friends and family - if they are suggesting that you may be stressed or in need of relaxing, then you probably are.
Accept it and make time for it
Avoidance of small relaxation breaks throughout your day can lead to burn out, fatigue, illnesses and insomnia wreaking havoc on your productivity and your efficiency. Making the decision to set aside time, even for are little as 10 minutes, may sound simple but it can be difficult to accomplish; taking some personal time can make some people feel like they are being selfish or even useless but in reality it's just the opposite. Let go of guilt. Make the time. Remind yourself constantly that this is a necessity and schedule it in your daily schedule.
Relaxing your mind
Relaxation starts with your mind. Relaxing your mind will allow you to refocus and begin relaxing your body as well. Take a timeout from your activities and focus your mind elsewhere on something you enjoy. If you are having a hard time relaxing your mind, try making a conscious effort to breathe deeply. It is one of the easiest and least time consuming ways to put you at ease. You may also consider meditating or praying as a means to relax your mind. Reading, writing or divulging in a fun hobby are great options as well. The only 'must' when it comes to relaxation is getting sufficient sleep. Regardless of how long you sleep, it is important is that you get a sufficient amount of undisturbed sleep. Avoid caffeine, heavy meals and worrying to help ensure you get a deep sleep, restful sleep and wake up energised.
Relaxing your body
Once your mind is relaxed you can really begin relaxing your body. Stretching is a fast and effective way to ease muscles, aches and strains. Stretching also helps improve blood circulation and acts as a great precursor to exercising. The physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise cannot be understated. Exercise strengthens your immune system, improves your cardiovascular system and immediately promotes the release of endorphins improving your mood and general state of mind. Don't shy away from pampering yourself once in a while as well. Do something you enjoy. Whatever that makes you feel good.
After you have stepped back, incorporated some daily time for yourself and truly relaxed - even if only for a few short moments - you will find that you are on your way to a well-balanced, often happier, life. Breaking the stress cycle begins and ends with you. Relaxation won't solve all your problems but it will help you gain perspective and revitalise you to better tackle them. Sometimes those Eureka moments come when you let your mind wander and solutions to problems seemingly become evident. So shed those feelings of guilt and start shamelessly relaxing.
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