Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Art of Relaxation

Ever had the feeling that everything is rushing at you way too fast, and way too forcefully? Life has a habit sometimes of testing you in challenging ways all at once. What do you do when this happens?

Often, our minds tell us that we have no choice but to keep up with all of it at once. Time to be Superhuman, right? If you ask the body what it needs during this time, it will tell you a different story. It will tell you to learn the Art of Relaxation, both during your "on" times as well as your "off" times. The effects of ignoring this lesson often trickle not only into health, but also into all the activities and tasks you're trying to keep up with.

The Art of Relaxation involves some key ingredients to make it work well for your body, mind, and overall enjoyment of life. Let's go over them one by one:

1) Don't worry too much about what others are doing! The mind will tell you that Sue, and Mindy, and Kate (for example) are all able to manage exercising five times a week, starting their own businesses, raising families, cooking a different meal every night all while working a full-time job. Will this thought process help you in the Art of Relaxation? NO! So, let yourself off the hook in not comparing your stress and relaxation thresholds to other people's levels.

2) Do you feel like you have to "get back to" your responsibilities first before you're allowed to relax? Is that nagging bill bothering you, or your coworker who's demanding that memo? Do something different for a change, and get back to yourself first. If you were to e-mail or call yourself right now, what would you tell yourself? Think about the suggestions you could give yourself about unwinding and letting loose a bit. Be creative on how you can breathe some fresh air into your life without outside hindrance. Be selfish! After you take a breath, you'll feel readier to handle everything else.

3) Take it one step at a time. Sometimes when we get super busy, the thought of relaxing and unwinding becomes yet another task. You may hear your mind chastising you for not being more chill, or scolding your body for having under eye bags, skin breakouts, indigestion, fatigue, or other physical evidence of stress. Now is not the time to yell at yourself for not having it all together. Take relaxation off of your "To Do" list and place it in a more respectable position of "You Time." You deserve the Art of Relaxation, and even though no one else will remind you of this regularly, it's still true.

The rest is up to you! What do you want to do, when you're not doing? Go for a walk around the neighborhood, maybe. Read a suspenseful or thought-provoking book. Draw or paint something. Learn a new instrument. Just lie on your bed and listen to music. Cook something new. Tune out for a bit in whatever way you choose.

As you embrace the Art of Relaxation, you'll see that it is medicine for your health, your soul, and your life. Practice it regularly, and you'll get better at it.

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