Being able to relax is an integral part of well being. Relaxation allows us to become more focused and content. And lets face it, sometimes you just need some ‘me- time’. After running around all week trying to reach deadlines and who knows what else, you can end up feeling lethargic and mentally exhausted. Add into the mix the hectic festive season, and you’ve got a recipe for total meltdown. Thus, it is crucial that we recognise and act on when we need a little time for ourselves.
Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, mentally and physically. In this day and age, most people are in a constant state of stress which has been defined as a chronic and an ongoing problem by doctors. The societal pressure to succeed, always be cheery and organised can leave you feeling lonely and unaccomplished.
And social media isn’t helping. After a long day at school or work when you may feel burned out and behind schedule, Instagrams’ personal highlight reel can worsen your mood. You may feel stressed that your life doesn’t look like someone else who has got everything together or that you have somehow failed. However, it’s important to remember that these images are only a small snapshot of another person’s life. It’s unlikely that they will post about an untidy house, a missed promotion or a forgotten children’s rehearsal as these are apparently less than socially acceptable. The images they do post are the best and most fun aspects of their life and should not be compared to your own daily life. You never know what may be going on behind the screen. Therefore, taking time away from social media, emails and electronics can greatly reduce stress levels.
A reduction in stress will improve your mental wellness but also your physical health. When we are stressed we can become irritable, anxious and depressed. Not only that, our bodies become fatigued by constantly being in the ‘flight or fight’ mode which can lead to insomnia and headaches. Your heart pumps faster and your breathing rate quickens which can cause hypertension and asthma. You may also be at an increased risk of developing Type II Diabetes as the liver excretes more glucose into the bloodstream to provide energy. When this energy is not used (due to their being no real dangerous threat and simply ‘modern day’ stresses) it has to be reabsorbed by insulin. Yet, insulin’s effect may be weakened leading to insulin resistance, a precursor to Type II Diabetes. Moreover, your muscles tighten leading to back aches and pains as they don’t get a chance to relax, especially if you’ve just completed a workout.
As you can see, relaxation is vital to reverse these symptoms of stress. Here is how you can take steps to relax:
- Schedule It: Relaxation should be an important part of your weekly schedule just as work, making lunches and assignments are. Personally, I like to take Sunday afternoon for myself. At these times, I set aside a couple of hours to pamper myself. By making it into a routine and commingling to it, your more likely to remember to be kind to yourself. For people who find it difficult to stop and relax, it can help to write a list of exactly what you would like to get done in these hours. This way, it can feel like a more productive process.
- Find out what relaxes you: Try out a few different things. Relaxation can be completely different for individual people. Some ideas include drawing, reading, having a bath, taking care of skincare and haircare, exercising (good at releasing endorphins!), watching your favourite tv show or spending time with loved ones. The key is to do things that you enjoy doing and don’t often take the time to do normally.
- Get a good night’s sleep: A quality nights rest can do wonders for your body. When we sleep, your body has a chance to recover and switch off. It can reset your mindset for a new day while reducing cortisol levels. Some tips for a good night’s sleep include drinking a warm drink, switching of electronics 30 minutes before bed and wearing your favourite pajamas (because why not?).
- Tackle the task that is stressing you: As the Nike slogan says, ‘JUST DO IT’. After taking some time to relax, it’s time to address what has been stressing you out. Whatever it is that is causing you to be stressed needs to be completed. A good sleep will focus your mind and should motivate you to finish off the task at hand. Once you have eliminated the cause of stress you will feel much more accomplished, productive and free.