man laying on grass white & yellow flowers

Written by Carolyn King

  • Do you ever feel like you can’t think straight? 
  • Are you finding that you are spending most of your time barely surviving and living in reactive mode?  Putting out fires everywhere rather than laying some solid foundations?
  • Are you feeling like you never have time to do what you want to do? 
  • Do you feel that you are just “existing” as the years pass you by and you are no closer to your goals?

If you have answered “YES!” to any of the above questions, then let me ask you another question…. When was the last time you made time to RELAX?

In this fast-paced, modern world many of us have forgotten how to really relax.  We place more importance on spending those extra hours at work to impress our boss, or we take on extra activities for the kids because we want to give them every opportunity we can.  Even when we think we are relaxing; chances are that we are scrolling through our social media accounts or planning what we need to do tomorrow.

We keep going, ignoring the signals from our body that we need to slow down, that we need to take a break, that we need to hit the Pause Button.  Even stopping for a short period of time is beneficial.  Our health is, after all, the most important thing we have.  Without it, it’s difficult to really enjoy life.  If we don’t listen to our bodies, our bodies will inevitably make us listen through illness and disease because of the stress we place on our body. 

What does relaxation actually mean?

Relaxation is the state of being which is free from tension and anxiety.  It’s taking time out to allow your mind, body and soul to recharge.  The benefits are too numerous to list here but some of the key benefits include:

  • Slowing your heart rate to a healthy rate,
  • Lowering your blood pressure,
  • Slowing your breathing rate,
  • Improving your digestion,
  • Reducing your stress hormones,
  • Increasing blood flow,
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain,
  • Improving concentration and mood; and
  • Reducing anger and frustration.

Further benefits of regularly relaxing is that it gives your brain time to process all the input and information from life.  During this time, it also enables your brain to reflect on what you really want in life, what goals you really want to achieve and the actions you need to take make them happen.  You begin to hear what your inner voice is saying and then have the choice to allow your inner voice to steer you in the right direction making course corrections along the way.  When you are travelling in the right direction you become happier and more balanced in life.

And when you are more balanced, you are more present with your children and love ones. Remember that those around you don’t need you to do more for them. Instead, they need more of YOU.  More of your time, more of your presence, more of your attention.  That is the gift you should be giving them.  When you are balanced, you are more aware of the needs of others.

Making time to regularly relax should be part of your personal self-care routine.

Self-care is one of the most important things most need to re-learn.  It is something that should come naturally as a part of your self-preservation.  But most have unlearned it in this fast-paced society called life.  Nobody else can make you look after yourself.  Self-care needs to be self-initiated and prioritised if you are to live a healthy and happy life.

A short exercise in relaxation.

What I would like you to do next is to read the next paragraph and then take a few minutes to put it into practice.

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Close your eyes and take in some deep breaths.  Notice how it feels to take in the breath and how it feels to release the breath.
  • Next tune in to how your body is feeling.  Is it tense?  Is there any pain?  Do you have a headache?  What are the thoughts going through your head now?  Are there any other sensations, feelings or thoughts?
  • Imagine relaxing your entire body starting from your feet and working your way up to your head.
  • Stay in this space for as long as you wish.
  • Now stop reading and do this. 

Once you are finished write down your experience, including any sensations, emotions, difficulties, etc.  Keeping a journal or record of how you regularly feel, gives you invaluable insight into whether you need to spend more time relaxing or whether the time you currently spend relaxing is enough.

Another way you can relax is by going for a walk outside.  Walking in nature is extremely beneficial.  The important things to consider when you do go for your walk is to stay in the presence of your body. This means no phones, no music, no podcasts, no thinking about what you need to do later today or even tomorrow.  Just you, your body, your breath and your awareness of what is going on around you. 

Want more ways that you can relax?

  • Pamper yourself – massage, movies or eating out
  • Do something fun just for you like drawing, art or cooking class
  • Learn to say no.  You don’t need to do everything for everyone.
  • Get out in nature and experience the sensory input from all your senses.
  • Get off social media.  Have social media free days or at least social media free hours (and this does not include when you are asleep, try having breaks when you are awake!)
  • PLAY more ????   Get that inner child out and have some fun.  Play board games or ride a bike.
  • Meditate more. There are many apps that can help you do this.
  • Take time out for yourself at least once a week with a nap, early night or a bath.
  • Read a great fiction novel that can take you on an adventure.

So, what can you do to relax more in your life?  Make it your goal this year, to put your health first and make time for some regularly relaxation!

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