How do you rank when it comes to relaxation? Relaxation is a voluntary action which often makes it harder to achieve. Choosing to relax requires awareness, discipline, and self-love. Understanding the benefits of relaxation and making it a priority in life can be hard when so many things are competing for your time and attention. It’s often easier to sacrifice relaxation when you feel overwhelmed or overextended, but relaxation is the very thing that could resolve those issues.
It may seem as though there are too many barriers between you and relaxation, but the biggest one could be…you. The good news is, with some simple mindset shifts, you can remove the barriers, including yourself, from the equation.
Choose relaxation through awareness- Our sympathetic nervous system, or SNS, helps us in times of stress. When our SNS is activated, we experience an increased heart rate, boosted adrenaline and other hormones, and our fight or flight response kicks in. By contrast, our parasympathetic nervous system, or PNS, helps our bodies transition from fight or flight back to calm and connected.
Understanding that the SNS needs to shut down and PNS needs activation is important, otherwise we live in a heightened state of vigilance all the time. This can lead to chronic worry, anxiety, as well as high blood pressure.
Get out of your own way by recognizing when your SNS needs a break. Living with too many stressors can keep your body in fight or flight and it’s up to you to determine when you need to trigger your PNS and find peace.
Choose relaxation with discipline- Knowing you need relaxation for your mind and body is one thing, actively engaging in it is another. It takes discipline to make relaxation a routine part of your everyday life. In the same way you create other routines for your health, shift your mind to include relaxation. Find a way to relax that makes sense for you and your lifestyle and stick to it. It’s ok to try more than one activity until you land on the ones that work best for you.
Get out of your own way by scheduling relaxation into your day. Include meditation, a cat nap, or walking barefoot in the grass into your to-do list. For most people, marking it down on their schedule can help them make relaxation a priority until it feels like a normal part of life.
Choose relaxation out of self-love- There are lots of ways to relax. Deep breathing can help you achieve a relaxed state, but so can a wonderful massage. Relaxation should be a reflection of the love you have for yourself and your health. Melding relaxation with activities that bring you peace, joy, and comfort is a form of self-care that benefits your mind and body as a whole.
Get out of your own way by allowing yourself to do things that feel lovely and loving. Find relaxation by soaking in a warm bath or enjoying your favorite beverage. Relax alone or in the company of others. Learn to embrace relaxing activities as vital as eating and sleeping are for your health. Don’t allow anyone else to encroach on your right for relaxation.
Sometimes a busy day leaves no room for relaxation, but overall, it’s usually us that gets in the way of being more relaxed. Thankfully, we can control ourselves and make important shifts to being more relaxed and engaging in relaxing activities.