3 ways to think about relaxation

1 06 2011

It’s a stressful time for many of us.  If you’re in college, finals are keeping you awake at night.  If you’re working, chances are you’re racing to meet your numbers or wrap things up before the summer.  And if you’re a homemaker, you’re prepping for summer, figuring out how to keep your rambunctious kids occupied or (if you can afford it) where to go for a much-needed family vacation.

So…what can we say here about relaxation that hasn’t already been said?

We could list 100 ways to relax, with at least something on the list that may be new to you.  Or we could promote our unique method of relaxation, perhaps a new form of meditation or recreation.

But those things are just a Google search away.  I mean, seriously, why reinvent the wheel?

Instead, we offer you 3 simple and profound ways to think about relaxation, no matter who you are and what you seek.

LET GO.

If you need to relax, there’s probably something in your life that’s troubling you, winding you up or keeping you awake at night.  This isn’t always a bad thing…studies have shown that adequate levels of stress can increase productivity, creativity and overall performance.

But if a person, work project or situation is starting to occupy more of your life than it should, then stress levels become unhealthy.  Stay in this zone for too long, and your body/mind will rebel – you’ll fall ill, become depressed, get grouchy over inconsequential things, snap at your loved ones etc.  You know what I’m talking about.  I’m sure you’ve experienced this at least once in your life.

The first step is to be aware that things are off-balance.  Then, it’s time to figure out how and when to let things go.  Can you delegate?  Can you step away (even temporarily) from the stressor?  What techniques have you used in the past to distance yourself from your stressful reality (e.g. yoga, meditation, counting to 10, calling your best friend…), and which ones can you use right now?

Remember, your desired end goal may justify getting stressed out/overworked in the short term, but your overall health and well-being needs your attention too.  You only have one body.  Honor and nourish it!

BREATHE.
Breath is life.  When we forget to breathe deeply and slowly, we are robbing our bodies of oxygen and the very fuel it needs to carry us through our days.
In a world where brains and intellect are so highly valued, we spend too much time in our heads and not enough time remembering or acknowledging the bodies that transport us.  Just the simple act of slow, conscious breathing reconnects us with our bodies.  It slows our heart rate and immediately relaxes us.
If you’ve ever done cardiovascular exercise, you’ll recall your trainer asking you to breathe.  This is to sufficiently oxygenate the body that you’ve placed in temporary overdrive.  If you didn’t breathe, you would feel faint or dizzy.
And if you’ve ever done any sort of bodywork or somatic therapy, then you’ve experienced the deep, penetrating effects of breath.  Conscious breathing into your tissue or your spine can release deep tension and literally enliven you.
LIVE.
This last principle will mean different things to different people.  What does it mean to you to live, really live, a full life?  More than having outlets or having good relationships, this is about discovering and living out your dreams and life purpose.
Not to get all ‘Oprah’ on you….but her brand stands for living your best life.  When you know and respond to what truly drives you and feeds your soul, the very thought or practice of that activity will relax you.  More than that, it will energize and uplift you, as well as those around you.
There are, of course, the practical matters of life.  Bills need to be paid, mouths to be fed.  And some dreams do have a shelf life, so don’t chase them if the chances of success are truly slim to nothing.  But those among us who have found and made peace with what we were born to do, can wake up each morning feeling a little more relaxed in their life journey.
If your circumstances make it impossible to make a drastic change in your life, then take baby steps.  I promise you, every step you take toward realizing your life’s vision is a step toward greater peace and relaxation.
I hope you’ve found these 3 principles to be useful. Do you agree or disagree with them?  Please comment below!
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