Somehow, the idea of relaxing has become synonymous with laziness. In a busy world of people grinding out their success and taking care of their families, the idea of relaxing doesn’t come easy. The thing is, we need to relax, every day, not just during the occasional vacation.
Your health, both physical and mental are tied to your ability to relax. Here’s how-
Relaxation lowers blood pressure, regulates breathing, and heart rate. Relaxation eases tense muscles and helps release stress. Relaxation reduces anxiety, depression, and many mood disorders.
So, why aren’t more people relaxing?
We are over-committed- Now, more than ever, we are pulled in too many directions. We make to-do lists, build out our schedules, and over-commit to so many things. It never occurs to us to schedule down time to recover from the demands. Eventually, since we don’t prioritize some peace and quiet, our bodies demand it by reaching their limits and experiencing illness, injuries, and mental fatigue.
It’s not culturally acceptable- While some cultures covet down time and build it onto their societal fabric, others don’t. Americans especially feel the pressure to be productive, only taking time for relaxation on Sundays and accrued vacation time.
Our brains don’t know how- Sometimes our brains can’t shut off. Issues like anxiety and depression can keep our brains in overdrive and we avoid relaxing altogether to avoid the hyper-awareness of how we feel inside. Essentially, we would rather stay busy than feel our feelings.
We choose the wrong relaxation- Relaxing should be free from stress, worry, and negativity. Choosing the wrong activities when we relax can negate the positive effects of down time. If you choose to watch true crime, play intense video games, or read suspenseful books while you ‘relax’ you could be triggering your brain into fight or flight rather than relaxation.
What You’re Missing When You’re Not Relaxing
Relaxing is a lot like eating well and exercising, it’s good for you! Here’s how relaxing contributes to your overall health-
Relaxing lowers blood pressure- High blood pressure often has no symptoms and can lead to heart attack and stroke. Hypertension is a leading cause of death and diet and exercise can influence it, but so can relaxation. In the same way 30 minutes of cardio can lower your risk of high blood pressure, so can 30 minutes of routine relaxation.
Relaxing boosts blood flow- Relaxation helps blood flow to the brain and other major organs helping our systems work as they were designed. Restricted blood flow can cause illness and injuries.
Relaxation improves digestion- Our bodies do many things on their own without us thinking about it. We don’t need to remind ourselves to breath, our heart to beat, or our food to digest, but we can influence these actions. Relaxation is voluntary and helps us calm ourselves and our bodies. This can improve digestion by loosening muscles and allowing for proper blood flow to the digestive system.
You may think relaxing is a luxury or something to experience on vacation, but it’s vital to your health and wellbeing and should be a part of everyday life.