How many times have you just opened your eyes to a new sunrise to soon find your children still in bed and complaining how much they don’t like school and would rather stay in bed? And then your wife or husband is making a drama for being unable to find the right pants or shirt, and when you’re already starting to feel stress overwhelming you, your boss calls you to schedule a meeting for the same time you promised your best friend you’d be there to give support on a complicated moment.
Sometimes, relaxation in our fast lives just seems impossible to come our way and even though some scientists claim that the right amount of stress can sharpen both your mind and your senses, it’s also a fact that the excess of stress is detrimental to your mental and physical health. Relaxation, on the other hand, does wonders to restore the balance in your life while reducing some the widely known health risks associated with stress.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your body, mind and soul is practicing on a daily basis some form of daily relaxation by dedicating some minutes each day to silence your mental chatter and breathe deep and blissfully. Remember that the word “relax” comes from the Latin word “relaxare”, which means “to make loose” – relaxation releases unnecessary energies held tightly, allowing us to regenerate and expand our minds into a state of peace and calmness.
Why is relaxation so important?
In this modern society we live in it seems like everyone lost the ability to regulate themselves – sometimes it can bring great advantages to be working under a bit of pressure, but after the completion of the task we have at hands, a natural release should happen, letting go of all the pressure. But it seems like we only pile pressure up, never letting it go.
Instead of watching or stress levels going up and down in a natural wave-like motion, they stay high all the time and real relief never seems to come. The problem is that we’re so used to it that we don’t even notice it, and only when a complete breakdown happens or a disease takes over our already feeble stability we become forced to stop and reset. It’s crucial to do a daily self-check and use methods of relief that will do wonders for our overall health.
And because we live such frantic and demanding lives, we forgot that relaxation is not staring at the TV like a soul-less being waiting for sleep to come or simply using the weekends to compensate for the lack of sleep – none of these are real solutions to reduce the damaging effects stress has on the body, mind and soul.
In order to combat stress in an effective way, one must activate the body’s natural response to relaxation by practicing many of the helpful available techniques, such as meditation, yoga, proper breathing, cycling or mindful walking, among so many others. Fitting these activities into one’s life can help reduce the piling-up of stress, boost energy levels and lift the mood while allowing you to stay calm and relaxed when any seriously stressful moment unexpectedly knocks on the door.
What does relaxation bring into your life?
First of all, it’s important to understand that stress in not necessarily bad, it’s actually necessary! It can boost creativity, speed up the learning curves and make you able to survive in this concrete jungle we live in. But the moment stress overwhelms you and creates a blockade to the healthy state and equilibrium that your nervous system requires to keep its balance, then it becomes a seriously harmful thing. Unfortunately, this type of overwhelming stress has become a more and more common characteristic of this modern life, hence the importance of learning how to bring the nervous system back to a balanced state whenever it gets out of control.
The moment stress completely floods your nervous system, chemicals rush through your body to make you ready to fight or flight, and while such response can save your life in a situation of great emergency where action needs to be taken quickly, the stress of everyday life can seriously wear down your body, and here’s where relaxation techniques become so important – they put a brake on this constant state of readiness and bring equilibrium back to your body and mind.
The countless relaxation techniques don’t rely on shutting down your body and mind, but instead on making you aware of how focused, calm and relaxed you are while doing them. Reserve 10 to 20 minutes from each day for your relaxation practice, making them fit your schedule even if during your lunch hour or on the way to work while sitting on the bus.
How to achieve deep relaxation?
Because no relaxation technique suits everyone in the same way, one must learn individually which ones fit best his or her specific needs, fitness level, preferences, and the way one reacts to stress. The appropriate relaxation technique is the one that allows you to make your mind focus properly in order to interrupt the constant inner chatter and ultimately it can even be a combination of several techniques that bring results to life.
Whether you prefer the solitude of meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, or the interaction with other people that a Yoga or Tai Chi class will bring you, what matters is that you follow your heart and soul in order to keep them healthy, so here are some ideas you should consider:
- Music for your soul
Countless experts will tell you how much music can slow down the heartbeat and put the soul at ease, so whenever you feel restless, play a slow tempo music album of your choice and notice how your heartbeat synchronizes with it. Listening to 30 minutes of relaxing music can produce the same effects of relaxing pills without any of the bad side-effects.
- Focus on the beauty around you
Try to focus on your surroundings and expand your mind outside of your own inner reality. If you are outdoors, take notice on the beauty of the flowers and trees; admire their vast colors and shapes, and all the life they breathe. Close your eyes and let Nature’s perfume tell you a story, or how the birds are singing in such divine harmony.
Wherever you might be, there are always countless things to notice and focus your mind on. By focusing on one single thing at a time, even if it’s just a simply object in your hands or behind the window of a store, your mind stays on the present and the stress and anxiety from the past and future simply stay out of the way.
- Tea for you and me
It’s widely known that coffee notoriously raises the stress hormone, while a warm green tea brings relaxation, increases your health condition and makes you look much more beautiful – it doesn’t stain the teeth and makes your skin prettier.
A chamomile tea, for instance, brings almost instant peace of mind and reduces stress levels. And if you’re looking for some energy booster, you’ll be delighted with a nice black tea – while having the same awakening effects of a coffee, not only doesn’t raise the stress hormone levels, it actually inhibits it!
- Love for free
In order to induce the relaxation response, all you have to do is to show some love. Give an unexpected hug to a friend or family member, cuddle your cute pet, call someone important to you and say how much you love him or her – simply let the love flow! Such social interaction or physical contact may help lower the level of stress hormones and lower blood pressure.
- Meditation and breathing
While meditating we take time to silence the mind and allow it to experience a real and deep feeling of relaxation. By controlling the unstoppable flow of thoughts, the mind stays at ease, worries and anxieties vanish, and bliss is reached gloriously as we detach ourselves from all the worldly pressure.
When under stress, our breathing becomes shallow because it’s directly connected to how we feel inside, so if we change the way we breathe, we change the way we feel. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths as you expand your abdomen to its full capacity; and then calmly let the air out while pulling your stomach in to expel all the content of your lungs. Take control of your breath and let yourself go to where the relaxation takes you.
- Turn your place into the most inspiring temple in the world
Our house should be the most relaxing, comforting and inspiring place in the whole world. The way our environment looks can deeply affect our mood, our state of mind, our inner peace and will. You have certainly noticed that some places simply block your ability to think freely or be creative, so why not to take some time to make your house look just like you desire it?
Create a pleasant environment around you and see how much your relaxation levels are boosted and your overall productivity and desire to live are positively affected. Be it incense burners, a warm colored lamp, a beautiful flower or simply the absence order – make your house breathe peace!
Conclusion and final words
The more you can focus on the present moment, the less you’ll be under the pressure of the future, which certainly is a great portion of your mental space right now. Deep relaxation means living exclusively in the present moment!
Osho wisely mentioned that relaxation is one the most complex phenomena in existence – “Very rich, multidimensional. All these things are part of it: let-go, trust, surrender, love, acceptance, going with the flow, union with existence, egolessness, ecstasy. All these are part of it, and all these start happening if you learn the ways of relaxation.
“When the mind is relaxed, then start relaxing your heart, the world of your feelings, emotions – which is even more complex, more subtle. But now you will be moving with trust, with great trust in yourself. Now you will know it is possible. If it is possible with the body and possible with the mind, it is possible with the heart too. And then only, when you have gone through these three steps, can you take the fourth. Now you can go to the innermost core of your being, which is beyond body, mind, heart: the very center of your existence. And you will be able to relax it too.”
Reality is here and now. Make the best out of it for your own sake – and the whole world around you will feel just the same.