Now that the busy season is over, do not forget to rest and relax. While I was at an appointment; just before Christmas, the office clerk mentioned that she was feeling totally overwhelmed about the holidays. She said that she was hosting a Christmas Eve Brunch and attending a Christmas day dinner, along with shopping for gifts, getting the home ready for guests, and the every day expectations and responsibilities.
We chatted about a few supplements that help your body recover from stress, but I also told her that the most important part of stress recovery is to be still. We both had a laugh at the notion of being still during the holiday season. But seriously, stress recovery is vitally important to our health and well being.
Chronic stress can lead to health effects such as increased risk of stroke or heart attack. Muscle aches, stomach pain and digestive issues as well as depression and much more. The remedy for stress is rest and relaxation.
Rest and relaxation do not occur simultaneously. Each must be accomplished individually. Rest first and then relax. Dedicate at least 10 minutes to rest; once you have fully rested, relaxation will follow. Note that in the beginning a conscious effort must be made, in order to truly relax. Do not get stressed out trying to achieve the perfect form of relaxation. Just be still and be quiet, dismiss thoughts of what happened an hour ago as well as thoughts of what must be done an hour from now.
Rest means that you stop doing something,which allows you to recover your strength. However, relaxation has a further purpose. Relaxation allows us to clear our minds and refresh our spirits. It allows deeper metabolic functions to perform their specific tasks, which in turn is good for our health.
Some of the benefits of really relaxing are reduced muscle tension, improved breathing patterns, slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. Relaxation also improves cognition, memory, learning as well as our daily coping and communication abilities. According to a mayo clinic article on stress, Practicing relaxation techniques 2 to 3 times a week can have many benefits, including:
Slowing heart rate
Lowering blood pressure
Slowing your breathing rate
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
Reducing activity of stress hormones
Increasing blood flow to major muscles
Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
Improving concentration and mood
Improving sleep quality
Reducing anger and frustration
Boosts confidence to handle problems
Everyone should include relaxation in their lifestyle. In the beginning relaxation may be a challenge. After all, we have to “learn” how to relax. However as noted the benefits are worth the effort. It could literally save your life.
Start with simple stress reduction activities, try 3 to 5 minutes of quiet, clear your mind and just be still. If you are not accustomed to absolute quiet, then use soothing background music.
Consider Yoga, not the twisted like a pretzel yoga that takes years of mastery, but simple yoga stretches, they are wonderful. Yoga stretches improve posture and include all of the relaxation benefits.
Aren’t you worth 5 minutes to yourself. I promise you that the world will not fall apart in that space of time. Try to Increase your quiet time to 15 to 30 minutes at least twice a week. Outside of the listed benefits; in total, these effects can improve your overall well being, improve your appearance and possibly increase longevity.
Our young people can benefit from learning to relax early in life, grab a niece, nephew, neighbor or child and encourage them to sit quietly with you for 5 minutes.