So many of us find it hard to relax these days, however, finding some time to relax, breathe and reconnect is essential for our wellbeing.
Despite modern conveniences such as washing machines, hoovers and cars, we seem to have less time than ever to spend on ourselves, and connecting with people is more complex than ever, with daily checking of emails, texts, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat and Twitter feeds … it may feel impossible to unplug and simply relax.
In fact, we are so wired to multi-task and act like superwoman, that it can feel unproductive to unplug and just sit down with a cuppa, and we start to feel a little bit bored because we are used to constant stimulation in our lives.
We often forget the need to replenish our mind, body and spirit and assume doing nothing is lazy and selfish. We then start to feel guilty for switching off and enjoying our leisure time.
Busy, stressed minds and bodies are not on the journey to inner peace. We require rest and relaxation to bring calm and balance back into our lives, and ironically, to become more productive.
When people talk about relaxation, it often seems like something that we aren’t always able to fit into our busy schedules. In reality, relaxation can be one of the healthiest things to incorporate into your everyday life. Daily stress can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Studies show that various forms of relaxation can help reduce many chronic health concerns as well as restore energy and encourage a more positive sense of self.
Benefits of relaxation
Relaxation is the process of releasing tension and returning the balance of both the mind and body. Stress is the primary cause of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and immune system breakdowns. Therefore, relaxation techniques are essential to manage your stress levels and keep you healthy.
In fact, relaxation might be one of the best essential factors in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Relaxation techniques can benefit both psychological and physical health.
The Benefits of Relaxation on Physical Health
Your heart rate and breathing slow down.
Your blood pressure decreases and circulation is improved.
A significant reduction in chronic pain and muscle tension
All body systems function better
Boost energy levels
Skin disorders such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis tend to improve
Conditions such as heartburn, ulcers, migraines, fibromyalgia, insomnia and diabetes to name just a few are known to improve.
The Benefits of Relaxation on Psychological Health
People who practice relaxation techniques are known to sleep better
Fewer bouts of anger or crying
It can increase your memory, concentration and problem-solving skills
Anxiety, depression and panic attacks are known to improve
A sense of calmness and confidence
Improved coping abilities
4 simple ways to relax
#1 – Drumming
Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the Shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Drumming induces deep relaxation, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and brings us back to an essential part of our life: our heartbeat.
By participating with drumming, we connect naturally with our unique vibrational state. It can be refreshing to discover the hypnotic trance of drumming is like a tonic to the soul.
Use your hands, or a pencil on a desk (you can purchase a drum if you like). Drum for a minimum of one minute. Pay attention to the rhythm, volume and tempo of your drumming. Experiment till you find something that feels natural to you. There is no right or wrong, take a few deep breaths, relax and go with whatever comes to you in the moment.
Build intensity of sound and volume
Notice how your body resonates with the beat and then releases tension after a short session of drumming.
#2 - Candle Meditation
Candlelight is a way to dress up a table, turn a bath into a spa, or to sweep your loved one off their feet. A single flame is mesmerising, a simple portal to stillness.
As you might have guessed, candle meditation involves gazing at a candle flame.
Before you light the candle, take a minute to prepare the space in which you meditate. Turn down the lights and draw the curtains. You will find this more natural in a room that is dimly lit to avoid eyestrain. Try to find a position for the candle which is at eye level or just below to reduce the strain on the neck.
Light your candle and place it in position
Relax your gaze, and watch the flame
Describe what you see; ‘Dancing flame’, ‘golden light’, ‘blue centre’ …
Observe the movement
If your mind wanders (and it will), bring your attention back to the flame.
Practice this for 5-10 minutes.
Make blowing out the candle part of the process. As you watch the smoke curl upwards, imagine the stress of your life drifting away with the smoke.
#3 – Childs Pose
This relaxing pose stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. It relaxes your neck and spine, and at the same time, it increases blood flow to the head and calms the mind. It’s also soothing for our adrenal glands, which get overworked when we’re always stressed out.
Start by kneeling on a carpeted floor or mat.
Drop your bottom towards your heels.
Lean forward so that your forehead is touching the ground and your stomach is resting on your thighs. If this is difficult, go as far as the stretch feels comfortable.
Stretch your arms out in front of you, or alternatively, bring them around the side of the body so that your hands are touching your feet.
Rest in this position, letting your body sink into itself and breathe normally.
Allow yourself to rest in this position for several minutes, inviting a sensation of deep relaxation.
Note: If you find it difficult to sit on your knees, add a cushion in the gap to make this position more comfortable.
#4 – Deep Breathing
When we feel stressed and vulnerable, our body experiences a fast heartbeat, sweaty palms, tummy ache, and we might want to cry, shout out or snap at those closest to us. However, each of us has a powerful tool to recover balance: the breath. “Intentional Breathing” is a deceptively simple, yet perfect tool for awakening the feelings of inner peace.
Deep breathing is an easy practice to calm the mind, body and soul, and all you need to do to prepare is find a comfortable sitting position.
Relax your jaw.
Place your hands on your lap, palms up and breathe normally.
On the in-breath, say or think the words “I am calm”.
On each out-breath, say or think the words “I am relaxed”.
Follow the sensations of your breath as it moves in and out of the body.
Repeat this cycle for up to five minutes. Use a timer so you don’t have to worry about looking at the clock.
“Take rest: a field that is rested makes beautiful crops”