You know you need to take some time out and learn how to relax – problem is, how?!
In today’s stressful fast-paced world the demands on our time are endless, and often, taking time for ourselves is at the bottom of a long list. Giving yourself time to truly relax and not feel guilty about it can seem like a fantasy.
However, taking time out for yourself is essential for health and well-being. Operating 24/7 at a mile a minute is not good for you – in fact, being under constant stress is linked with increased anxiety, depression, weight gain, marital discord and dissatisfaction with life.
How Stress Affects the Body
When we are stressed or anxious, this activates the sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for getting the body ready to deal with threat, and causes our breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure to increase, our muscles to tense, stress hormones to be released into the blood stream, and our thoughts to speed up.
While this is not a problem for short periods of time, being stressed or anxious for long periods can be extremely damaging.
Relaxing isn’t just doing nothing. Ensuring that you take time to properly relax is essential, as it allows the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, bringing all of these physiological changes back down to normal.
The good news is, you don’t need a long weekend away or a silent retreat to unwind; nor do you need a lot of time.
5 Simple Relaxation Techniques
Many of these simple techniques can be done at home and only take a few minutes, but your body and soul will feel the difference.
- Deep Breathing – Anyone who has done a yoga class will tell you about the benefits of focused breathing. Deep breathing counters the effects of stress, by reducing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. There is evidence to suggest that two 5-minute sessions of deep breathing a day can dramatically reduce stress and depression.
- Body Scans – Tune into how your body feels by doing a mental scan. By simply noticing how your body feels on a regular basis. you will increase your ability to be aware of the changes in your body when you are stressed versus in a state of relaxation.
- Journal – Writing down what has happened throughout the day can be a great way to expel any negativity or stress.
- List what your grateful for – When we are stressed, we tend to focus on the negatives and all the things we still have to do. Writing down the things you are grateful for can focus the mind on what truly matters, and helps to provide clarity.
- Identify what you can and can’t control – If you are worrying about something, write it down and then ask yourself whether there is anything that can be done about it. If the answer to this is no, then the problem is beyond your control and not worth worrying about.
There are countless ways to relax and ensure that your body gets the downtime that it needs.
If you would like to discuss your situation and explore what options might work best for you, please consider making an appointment with a Psychologist to help you ensure your work/life balance stays in sync.
Author: Ashley Cooper, B Psych (Hons), M Psych (Clinical), MAPS.
Ashley Cooper is a registered Clinical Psychologist, working with children, adolescents and adults. She is passionate about helping individuals to overcome their mental health issues and improve their quality of life.
To make an appointment with Clinical Psychologist Ashley Cooper try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.