It’s not the big things in life that bring us down. It’s the little stuff. You know. The bazillion things you have going on at the same time, no matter if you’re a professional, parent, socialite, retiree, a student… these days, it’s so common to have too much on one’s plate that relaxation seems like a guilty indulgence! Everybody wants something and they want it now (or yesterday) and we feel somehow ‘less’ if we don’t deliver. We do our best to deliver, but… if we don’t take some “me time” and apply some relaxation techniques, it’s certain…
… something, usually at the most inconvenient time, is going to give.
Repercussions of Not Enough Relaxation
Your health is at stake. So is your mental stability.
Stress is the number one killer in the world! It leads to serious health problems, psychological imbalances, inability to cope, leading to substance abuse and other issues that would not exist if it were not for chronic stress.
While some stress is good – sharpening your mind and keeping you “on” – the system doesn’t work with constant stress that isn’t interspersed with some good old- fashioned doing nothing.
Relaxation is essential. It’s a yin/yang of life: you can’t GO all the time and stay healthy, alert, happy, centered, productive or strong if you don’t STOP sometimes.
Your body can’t handle it! Neither can your brain! We are designed to go easy most of the time (think walking while gathering or hunting); go hard some of the time (think hunting or escaping); and the rest of the time, we are meant to be relaxing. We can be productive while relaxing, but that doesn’t mean sitting at your desk churning out reports and being stressed about deadlines.
Relaxation – true relaxation in the form of activity that promote physical and mental relaxation – is becoming a lost art.
The consequence is an inevitable breakdown in physical, mental and emotional health… and in success and relationships.
Effective Relaxation Techniques You Can Do Anytime
Here are some effective relaxation tips that will bring about a much-needed balancing factor to a busy modern lifestyle:
1. Meditate. Yes, sit. And do nothing. Just put on your headphones and let yourself melt into relaxation with Ohmarmonics. Why meditate? Nothing relaxes you more completely, not even sleep! Let your mind become absorbed in the soundtrack. It will stop its endless chatter and you will release stressful thoughts. The brain will relax too, signaling the release of calming, healing and ‘feel-good’ substances like oxytocin. 15-30 minutes of ‘me time’ puts your worries on hold and gives you a chance to reboot your system.
2. Do any repetitive, calm action that helps keep your attention in the present moment: walking, sweeping, doing dishes, yoga, tai chi, knitting, etc. Any sort of slow, repetitive exercise is very calming.
3. Imagine yourself relaxed. While you’re meditating or even if you can only spare 3 minutes at work, use your imagination and visualize yourself becoming extremely relaxed. Picture yourself in a place where you feel happy and relaxed, and make that visualization very real in your mind. The more realistic, the more relaxed you’ll feel.
4. Breathe. Notice how your breathing is when you’re stressed: shallow and rapid. By focusing on your breathing you can relax very quickly.
Let out a big sigh, imagining tension leaving your body and then become very aware of the experience of breathing. Become aware of how the air moves into your nose (you hear the inhale; but do you notice any smells?); how your lungs and abdomen expand; the pause between inhale and exhale; the exhale and the relaxation that comes with the exhale; the pause between exhale and inhale… and so on. Just a few minutes of listening to your breath will relax you tremendously. You’ll notice a huge decrease in your respiratory rate; at the same time, your breathing will become very deep and relaxed.
5. Be mindful. In other words: Be. Here. Now. Whatever you’re doing, give it your full attention, just like with the breathing exercise. Forget multi-tasking (it’s a productivity destroyer anyway). Focus on doing one thing and doing it exceptionally well. Be thorough, deliberate, unhurried and aware of every nuance of what you are doing. Instant relaxation! Another phrase for this is “stop and smell the roses” – you’ve heard that one. It’s all about mindfulness!
6. Use the power of touch. Cuddle or a loved one; give a back rub to your child; give a belly rub to a dog; pet the cat; hug a friend. Touch is extremely calming. Physical contact with another living being has been shown to reduce blood pressure and decrease stress hormones. Plus, you feel a real connection to another being.
7. Have a cup of hot tea. Chamomile is the traditional soothing tea; but try green tea, mint tea or any fragrant herbal tea that engages your senses. Tea actually helps decrease the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). Even black (caffeinated) tea is fine. Avoid coffee, though!
8. Listen to music. Avoid anything upbeat or with a fast tempo that gets your heart beating faster. Your heart will entrain to the beat, just as your brain entrains to your Omharmonics track. Slow tempo and simple melodies are best for relaxation.
9. Think positive. Sounds silly, but it works. You can change your attitude and feel the stress leave your body in just minutes. Choose to see the benefit in a situation and overlook the negatives. This will take practice but here’s the deal: you choose your attitude anyway, so why not choose one that’s happy and relaxed? A happy, positive attitude is more relaxing than a tense, negative attitude!
10. Smile. Let the corners of your mouth go up and drag your attitude up with them. It’s amazing how relaxed you’ll feel almost instantly!
Basically, relaxation is a choice. There are certain physical things you can do to relax; but ultimately, you must master your mind and LET GO of stressful thoughts by being mindful (present and aware). Then, you can relax deeply and completely.