Relax – It’s Good For You!
The 15th August is global relaxation day, a whole day dedicated to unwinding and putting the breaks on. Wow what a fantastic idea that sounds good!
So, this got us thinking, what does relaxation mean? How often should we relax? How important is it?
I know from personal experience that spending time relaxing and practicing selfcare never used to be on my priority list. How could I possibly put myself before my children, partner and family, that would be selfish right? I have also been the victim of ‘out of office onus’, that overwhelming worry the week before your annual holiday from work. I would find myself rapidly sending emails to all four corners of the planet and briefing the team pre-empting every eventuality that might go wrong, only to come back to an inbox larger than a postal truck…..urghh.
So, can taking time out to relax cause more stress, feelings of guilt or even shame? We find ourselves living in a world that promotes a toxic grind culture where self-care can be perceived as unimportant or even weak so taking time out can seem like a burden instead of a priority. Unfortunately, this can lead us into burn out mode. Feeling overwhelmed, tired, emotional or ataractic can be signs your body is giving you too slow down. If your car bonnet is smoking you wouldn’t ignore it but it seems that quite often we see the warning signs flash up but we carry on until we completely run out of steam then we can find ourselves lost and hopeless.
When we are faced with a threat or challenge in our everyday lives, we release the hormone cortisol. It is this hormone which helps us to be productive and when we have achieved our goal we feel good by releasing serotonin. However, if we are faced with too many challenges and take on way too much the cortisol tap can get left on which can have a detrimental effect on our mental and physical health. In 2018 the World Health Organisation stated that ‘One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide’.
We know we can’t always avoid the obstacles life has to offer but it is important to remember that we can only tackle them if we refuel and recharge regularly. We can’t fill others cups if ours is empty. Relaxing doesn’t need to be a two week long holiday in the Maldives once a year or a massage once a week, relaxing can be a practice we build into our day to day lives. Here at Inspired to Change we’ve put together some top tips for relaxing regularly:
Tip 1 – Take a break at work
Make sure you take a lunch break, even if you have to schedule it into your diary. Just five minutes outside can refresh you especially if you get the chance to be near trees or nature.
Tip 2 – Be Mindful
Take a break from your thoughts by practicing some mindfulness. The great thing about mindfulness is you don’t need a long time – just a few minutes to focus on one particular activity is all you need. If you’re struggling to find the time then choose an activity you need to do anyway. Why not mindfully brush your teeth, really focus on each tooth as you brush it, or take a mindful shower, really focusing on the feel of the water. If you have longer why not take a mindful walk in nature or your garden, really focusing on what you are seeing, noticing the seasonal changes – it’s a great way to start the day and really clears your mind.
Tip 3 – Take a Technology break
Turn your phone off, leave your tablet behind and just enjoy doing what you are doing without interruption. Find a regular time in your day to do this, even if it’s just for 30 minutes and notice how much easier it is to focus without the constant notifications intruding into your mind.
Tip 4 – Plan something
Having something in the diary to look forward to is great, not only do you get the benefit of the break you have planned in but you also get the benefit of looking forward to it! Actively looking forward to things helps to boost levels of our feel good hormone serotonin, which boosts our brains ability to think faster and problem solve.
Tip 5 – Don’t plan anything!
I know, I just told you to plan something but you can find time to do both! Try having a day with no plans at all. We are so busy doing all the things on our lists that we often forget to just be. I read somewhere recently that “we are human beings, not human doings”, and we need to spend more time just being, whether that’s a lazy Sunday morning in our PJ’s, taking a cup of tea outside to sit in the garden rather than rushing back to the lap top, or booking yourself on to a relaxation retreat. Just Be You!
Tip 6 – Go on Holiday
Nothing beats a full on holiday away from your normal routine. When you are away from your home environment you can’t just nip out to mow the lawn, or put another wash on, or just do that pile of ironing whilst you’re watching TV. It’s so much easier to relax properly and switch off from the unimportant day to day stuff when you can’t be tempted by it.
Tip 7 – Try something different
A change is as good as a rest! Doing something different, or doing something you normally do in a different way fires up new connections in your brain and releases an extra shot of our feel good hormone serotonin which is why it makes us feel so good. Try taking a different route on your daily walk or commute, try cooking a new recipe or using a new ingredient, take up a new hobby, whatever floats your boat!
Tip 8 – Keep it small
Lots of little breaks across the day stop that feeling of overwhelm building. 5 minutes here and there makes a big difference to how you are feeling and your productivity. So have a proper tea break rather than making a cup of tea and taking it back to your desk, let the kettle boil without doing something else at the same time (like checking your emails!). Find 5 – 10 minutes a few times a day where you are taking a break, rather than filling your time with that endless to-do list – cuddle the cats, play with the dog, walk round the garden, feed the birds, find something that doesn’t require an output, something you can just enjoy for what it is, and use that as your “go-to” regular break.
About the Author: Emma Rose is based in our Spalding clinic in Lincolnshire. Emma chose to re-train as a solution focused Hypnotherapist after experiencing life long anxiety and OCD which spiralled out of control due to a family bereavement. After experiencing the benefits of hypnotherapy for herself, Emma became motivated by the changes in her own thought processes to help others.
If you would like to explore how hypnotherapy can help you reduce anxiety and flourish in life get in touch to book your FREE initial consultation with your local Inspired to Change hypnotherapist. Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Kent, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Somerset.
Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.
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