“It is very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying, it allows us to clear our minds, focus and find creative solutions to problems.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and peace activist
We’re taught from an early age that we must work and eat healthy foods in order to be successful and balanced.
Yet, being able to relax is just as important. Stress-related illness is a top reason why people visit their doctors today.
Navigating your life from a place of low stress helps you stay healthy, succeed, and find abundance in your life. It’s truly just as important as your diet or any of your other therapies.
Relaxation therapies improve your mood, sleep, heart health, immune response, digestion, and hormone balance.
Being stressed out keeps your body stuck in a “fight or flight” mode, imbalances cortisol production, and can damage all of the body’s systems.
Having a proper reaction to stress is necessary for survival, but today many of us are always stuck in survival mode.
Being under chronic stress doesn’t give our hearts, minds, and bodies an opportunity to thrive and enjoy our lives.
Take a few minutes to evaluate your own “rest and relaxation” score. Where do you fall?
If you’re more stressed than joyous, you could be hurting your health and even reducing your success. Here are a few tips to get started in the art of resting and relaxing.
Some people find their bliss with numbers and organizing complex tasks; others are happiest when connecting with others, sharing knowledge, or being creative.
Be sure to take time to pursue your passions in life. If you’re not working in your dream field, find a way to get closer to it.
Create a side project with whatever you’re passionate about (like cooking, gardening or art) to help you get closer to your bliss.
Challenges are good! Accomplishing a difficult goal helps you realize just how much you’re capable of, and builds confidence and self-esteem.
However, pay attention to signs of overload: fatigue that’s not resolved through rest, frequent headaches, poor digestion, aches and pains, poor concentration, or difficult sleep.
Even when you’re very busy, be sure to take wellness breaks, have nutritious meals, and enjoy time with people who inspire and energize you.
We all have tasks or even people in our lives that are energy drains.
First, delegate a few chores when possible. If day-to-day housework is draining your energy, ask family members to contribute. Some families do well with weekly chore list.
Second, it’s ok to set healthy boundaries with people who are energy drains. Learning to say no to people who demand too much of us is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves and for them.
Humans absolutely need downtime to decompress. Enjoy some leisure activities to spark creativity, and discover new opportunities for success and happiness.
Most people find their health improves and even problems like mild depression or anxiety subside just by taking a little more downtime.
Take a long weekend, or plan a fun trip with friends, family, or by yourself. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste!
A mindfulness meditation practice decreases daily stress and can change your entire outlook. Research shows mindfulness meditation reduces negative thinking and emotional reactivity.
It also offers benefits for immune health, and improves memory and focus. Learn more about how to practice Mindfulness.
Do something creative every day possible. A recent study shows 45 minutes of creative activity reduces cortisol levels and stress, regardless of artistic talent or experience.
Take some time to draw or finger paint with your kids or by yourself. Create a unique centerpiece, herb garden, or take up sewing.
Give yourself permission not to be perfect and enjoy the process.
In one of my other articles, I talked about creating your own sacred space or sanctuary for relaxation. If you haven’t done this yet, give it a try.
Create a special stress-free zone to decompress from work and become your best rested self.
Harness the power of rest and relaxation in your daily life. It’s important to work hard and rest hard. The body thrives with this balance.
If you’ve been feeling stuck, maybe it’s time to relearn the art of resting and relaxing. Your whole outlook may change and new doors may open to a more blissful future.
Davis, D. & Hayes, J. (2012, July/August). What are the benefits of mindfulness? American Psychological Association. 43 (7), 64. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx
Frank, P. (2016, June). Study says making art reduces stress even if you kind of suck at it. Retrieved from Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/study-says-making-art-reduces-stress_us_576183ece4b09c926cfdccac