You just need to relax…
Odds are you have heard this line of advice at some real opportune time, where it seemed like absolute crap. How are you supposed to relax in the middle of finals, with 6 project deadlines, while you work 60 hour weeks, when the baby won’t stop crying, etc. Whatever your personal reason for your stress and tension, there are good reasons for you to take the ridiculous advice above.
This Scientific America article suggests finding some time in your routine to just relax, you are sure to score substantial benefits. The part of you to benefit the most from you reprieve will be your brain and here is how.
- Stopping Your Never-Ending Stress Cycle
The opposite of relaxation is stress, so obviously, relaxation is to reduce your stress. But, what you may not know is your stress cycle is probably on overdrive, all the time wreaking havoc on your mind and body.
Giving your brain time to process the barrage of information constantly coming to us is the whole point of relaxation. As your stress decreases, you will automatically experience the benefits on this list and many more. Breaking the constant stress cycle is the biggest and most unseen benefit you will get from finding the time to relax.
- Better Sleep
Sleep is the gold standard for rest and relaxation, we all know that. The experts say everyone needs 7-9 hours of it to function at their highest capacity. However, even if you make it into bed in time to get your standard 8 hours, how long is it before you fall asleep. Rest lets your brain catch up and organize the information you have had coming at you all day.
If you don’t take a break before bed time, you likely lay awake at night sometimes for hours. Relaxing and taking breaks during the day has the potential to improve the quality of your much-needed sleep. This becomes even more important and effective if you find it uncommon to meet the daily recommendation on sleep.
- Boost Decision Making and Memory
This is the big one. The most studied phenomenon studied in regards to rest and relaxation is the measurable boost you get in concentration, decision making and memory. These are studies that show results in mice, like the study sited in this Huffington Post article, and in humans, like the studies site in this Scientific America article.
This is the number one, real, measurable brain benefit found from all forms of relaxation from deep breaths, meditation, and sleep.
- A Major Uptick In Creativity
You are writing an article, working on a presentation or any other project you must get done and you just can’t seem to get it right. There is something missing… what is it? After hours of working, rearranging and editing, you decide to call it quits. Step away from your project, call it a day maybe.
Then the most frustrating thing happens, as you drive home, cook dinner or shower that night the answer floats its way into your head. The answer to the whole thing, tying it all together. The rest, the actual stepping away from the task at hand is the key. Not thinking about it, the relaxation gives the brain time to process information and make connections that are not readily seen. Relaxation leads to creative solutions and creativity in general.
- Protect Your Brain From Serious Depression
Clinical depression is an imbalance of hormones in the brain. Sometimes, this imbalance can be triggered by a continuous influx of other hormones, like stress hormones. The imbalance can be brought on during times of great difficulty, like a divorce or death of a loved one. The stress can exacerbate mood upsets in people with a history of depression.
Relaxing can evacuate stress hormones and allow serotonin and dopamine levels to return to natural and regular levels. Doing so before there are any symptoms, protects you from developing long term symptoms of depression.
Relaxation is a powerful force for good and health in your body. The benefits are well-documented and could be described as universal, young, old, human and mouse all experience negative, degenerative effects during prolonged periods of stress and positive, restorative effects immediately following relaxation.
Take the time to just relax for the benefits to your mind, body and your work, whatever your work maybe.