The more you invest in yourself, the better you’ll feel.
By Erica Marriaga, MSW, LCSW
On August 15, 1985, National Relaxation Day was created by Sean Moeller, at the young age of 9. Relaxation is extremely important at any age. Do you agree?
The Dictionary of Psychology defines relaxation as “the state of being relaxed, refreshment of mind and body, and reduction in intensity of tension or vigor.”
Do you remember the last time you felt completely at ease? There were no worries, sadness, or anger? If you answered no, what has stopped you from taking a break?
Let me take a wild guess. Not having the time? It makes sense that the hustle and bustle of dropping the kids off at camp, or going to work, cooking dinner, spending time with friends and family, and an endless to-do list. I am here to tell you that there are ways to release tension and stress that are not a huge time commitment, although the more time you invest in yourself, the better you will feel.
There are many health benefits to resting our bodies and minds.
According to Herbert Benson, MD, “scientists have shown that such practices lower heart rates, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, and they alleviate the symptoms associated with a vast array of conditions, including hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, depression, infertility, cancer, anxiety, even aging.”
Studies have also linked chronic stress to killing brain cells, causing shrinkage of your gray matter, and playing a role in several mental illnesses. With our wellness at risk, it is so important that we take time not just to sleep, but to truly unwind, release stress, and relax our bodies and minds.
Here are some ideas to do just that:
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises for 5-10 minutes per day.
Have you ever heard of boxed breathing? Close your eyes. Picture a square or rectangle in your mind. With your hands or head, draw imaginary lines that connect and fill a square/rectangle. With each line you create, you are going to breathe in. Draw another line and breathe out. Try that for a minute. Did you notice a decrease in any tension in your body?
- Step away from the world. No social media, no technology.
Where would you find yourself? In nature? Taking a bubble bath? Reading?
Sometimes it is necessary for others to be able to reach us 24/7. However, most times, it would be perfectly fine to be unreachable for a short period of time. Find a time when you know your loved ones are safe and any distracting responsibilities are finished or can be put aside. Choose that time to unplug, be consciously unavailable, and focus on your own needs. You might explore a hobby, get some light exercise, or take time to sit in silence and reflect without the constant distraction of your technology.
- Schedule a massage, facial, haircut, or other self-care that you have been putting off. You deserve it. When we feel good about ourselves, we also tend to feel more relaxed and peaceful. Sometimes, even the act of prioritizing your needs can relieve stress and give you something to look forward to.
- Have a good laugh
Watch a funny movie or video. Challenge yourself to a funny joke or riddle. When we laugh, we give off different chemicals in our body and smiling promotes positivity.
- Spend time with friends or family
Being with others that share similar interests helps to alleviate stress and allows us to feel at ease. What would you want to do with friends or family?
If you have noticed that you feel more stressed lately, there is no better time to take your next step. Try some of the suggestions above or reach out to our caring staff at Exceptional Wellness Counseling. Our trained professionals can help you find the peace and wholeness you crave.
Erica Marriaga is a proud fur-mama of her one-eyed rescue dog, Toby, and puppy, Tucker. She loves to spend time with her husband and bond with her family, nieces, and nephews. Erica is passionate and enthusiastic about her role as a therapist.
Check out Erica’s professional bio here!
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