One of the positive things to come out of this eventful year is that many of us have really come to realize what is most important in our lives. I know for many people that includes family, health, and home. We have spent more time than ever in our homes, and many of us have had a much slower paced lifestyle. Learning to relax and be a little bit nicer to ourselves and our bodies is the unseen benefit of this otherwise tragic pandemic. In this blog post, we are going to focus on the topic of relaxation and why I have made it the basis of everything that Be Well and Renew offers.
Why All Humans Need to Spend Time Relaxing
All humans need to spend some time relaxing, whether they realize it or not. When we have a relaxed body and mind, we are more focused. We are clearer in thought and action, and therefore more productive, which is good in business, in life, and in handling all the things that cause us stress. You can think of it like that old idiom, “you have to spend money to make money,” although this situation it would be, “you need to spend time to maximize time.”
In our blog, Do You Need Permission, we covered some of the physical health benefits of relaxation. We talked about how relaxation has a positive effect on blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. None of this is really new information. In fact, as long ago as Ancient Greece, physicians have used relaxation techniques like music to improve digestion and heal the sick.
The only problem is that we are usually so busy or stressed that we forget to take care of ourselves. Or we put self-care at the bottom of our list. We forget that self-care can be as simple as taking time to relax. Others look at relaxing as a waste of time or a sign of laziness. However, relaxation is really an investment in ourselves.
What Exactly is Relaxation?
So, what exactly is relaxation? According to Very Well Mind, “the relaxation response occurs when the body is no longer in perceived danger, and the autonomic nervous system functioning returns to normal. Simply put, the relaxation response is the opposite of your body's stress response—your ‘off switch’ to your body's tendency toward fight-or-flight.”
Is that is a different definition then you were expecting? To many, relaxation conjures up images of lying on a sandy beach with a drink in a coconut or snuggling up with a delightful book under a fuzzy blanket. While those are situations that can be relaxing, they are only truly relaxing when the mind is in a state of calmness and not in a mental fight or flight. In fact, you could be on the most gorgeous tropical beach in the world, and if your mind is spinning with stressful thoughts, you are not relaxed. Conversely, with the right mindset, you can relax even on the busiest city street with horns honking and sirens blaring.
Finding Simple Ways to Incorporate Relaxation Into Your Life
Finding simple ways to incorporate relaxation into every single day helps us be grateful for the life that we live. Simple can also be much easier to incorporate into a hectic, stressful life. Relaxation has many different forms for everyone. That is why I offer a variety of ways for you to be more relaxed as part of your overall wellness.
Calming the Mind
Relaxation Eye Pillows are a simple and comforting way to help calm your mind. My eye pillows are designed to supply enough weight to calm active muscles and relieve tension. They also block out natural light so that you can let go of whatever stressors you are holding close to you. You can warm the pillow in the microwave for 20 seconds or use it at room temperature. If you have a challenging time letting your mind relax, it helps to focus on your breathing, feeling your body as you inhale and exhale.
Guided Meditations are a fantastic way to help relax your mind by giving you something to focus on other than your own thoughts. I have several guided meditations on my site, and you can find others through mobile phone apps and even on YouTube. Guided meditations are extremely popular for those who are new to meditation or who have a tough time turning off the never-ending dialogue in their minds.
Changing the Direction of Your Thoughts
So many people who I meet tell me that they have a challenging time controlling their mind. They feel as iftheir mind controls them rather than the other way around. One of my favorite relaxation tools is my Blended To Inspire deck of cards. Each card has a starter thought or short question that you can use to change the direction of your thoughts during the day. This deck is now available in a digital format as well so that you can access it anytime, anywhere on your devices.
You can use other techniques, too, like reading a poem or listening to positive music. One of my clients even uses quiet time with her dog. She sits and pets the dog and thanks the universe for all the good things that the dog brings to her life. While not one of the most common methods, the result is that she refocuses her thoughts off the stresses of the day and onto something that she finds relaxing. It takes away that fight or flight response.
Relaxation Can Happen Anywhere
These methods are things that you can do anywhere. If you have 10 minutes in your car while in the parent-pickup line or at your desk between meetings, you can relax your mind, which will affect your body in a very positive way.
My wish is always for you to BE WELL