September 27, 2012

Therapy Thursday: In Search of Relaxation


If you were to ask my family how I relaxed they would probably say “She doesn’t know how to relax!” and to be honest that is about right! I am pretty much on the go, all the time.  
Unfortunately, this attitude is all too prevalent in our world. Think about how easy it is for a baby or small child to fall asleep. We're born with the instinct to relax and sleep when our bodies or minds need a break. Over the years, it becomes necessary to control and even suppress these natural urges to rest, since we must remain alert as we attend school, learn professions, go to work, or care for a family. Many people spend years conditioning themselves to perform well despite feelings of tiredness. While no one would argue that suppressing tiredness can be a necessary skill, it can impair our ability to actually "let go" and relax when we do find the time.    Relaxation is also a uniquely individual activity. There are a number of ways to relax, as well. From reading, television, exercise, meditation, or just sitting and doing nothing, there are plenty of things you can do to relax. Relaxation is an important tool we all need to utilize in order to prevent a complete and total burn out. The real question is: how do I get rid of that nagging feeling that I'm just being lazy?  Here are a few tips for enjoying and making the best of your me-time.     

Invest:
Relaxation is investing time in yourself. Sure, you might think that investing that time in your work or your children might be more productive, but that's not necessarily so. You'll be more productive when you are working if you've spent some time relieving stress. So, rather than thinking, "I'm doing NOTHING," think of it as an investment. At the moment it might seem as if you're doing nothing, but later on you'll be more effective in whatever you're doing because you'll be less stressed. 

Recharge:
Think of your body and mind like a cell phone or laptop. They require recharging once in a while otherwise the batteries die and you can't use them anymore. You might think sleeping is enough for your body, but your mind needs time to rest as well. Consistently neglecting to allow yourself to relax can cause you to collapse both physically and mentally.    

Exercise:
One of the best ways to relieve stress and invest time in yourself is by exercising. Not only is it good for your body and mind, but in a sense you're working at the same time! The healthier your body is, the better it can function in all areas, including relaxation. An exhausted, "burned out" state isn't going to bring on restorative or strengthening relaxation.

Be Productive in your laziness:
If you are anything like me, and absolutely MUST get something done but would like time to relax, find a way to get your work done in a low-stress way. Need to clean the house? Turn on some music and dance as you clean. Have to pick up the kids from soccer practice? Play a CD in the car and sing as you weave through traffic.

Chillax:
Chillax is a combination of "chill" and "relax". It means exactly what you'd think - so do it! Chill out and enjoy your relaxation. If you start feeling restless or anxious, take a deep breath, let out the frustration, and enjoy your time to yourself.    Keep these suggestions in mind when you're finding yourself getting stressed and overworked. It's okay to be lazy, and in fact, it's highly recommended by doctors and psychologists! Taking a little time each day to enjoy life and do something you enjoy will make you happier, healthier, and more productive. When taking that time just remember not to equate relaxation with sleep. Particularly if you suffer from stress-induced insomnia, daytime napping can just make your nights more wakeful. Remember that the best form of relaxation is finding and participating in something that brings you joy -- whether it be alone or with others, sedentary or active, goal-directed or aimless -- find whatever is it that brings you relaxation and peace.   

Need a little help relaxing on your break at work?  Pull out your iphone.  They have a app titled Chillax. With, Relaxing Soundscapes, soothing music, sound mixer, binaural beats, screen dimmer, and a lock mode so you won’t be distracted on your journey to relaxation, and the best part is that it’s free.  So go ahead, Chillax!

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