It’s no secret that stress has a major negative impact on us. It damages our mental and physical health and impacts our relationships, both at home and at work. So, what can we do to alleviate or avoid stress? The answer is to relax! However, as we all know, that’s easier said than done.
When we take time to unplug from this over-stimulated world – and dial down what Dr. Murad calls Cultural Stress®, the constant and pervasive stressors of everyday modern life – it can have huge impacts on our health and wellbeing.
The simple definition of relaxation is being free of tension and anxiety. When you’re relaxed, you will sleep better and spend more hours in REM sleep, which builds your immune system. Truly relaxing improves your memory, reduces your risk of stroke and may even improve your eating habits by reducing cravings for fats and starchy food.
So, considering all of these benefits, why is it so hard for us to relax? Well, times have changed and Cultural Stress, in its many forms, keeps us from finding a peaceful state where we can truly be calm and quiet. In the modern world, relaxation is a deliberate choice and a learned behaviour that requires training and practice to make it an effortless part of your regular life.
Here are a few ways to help you incorporate relaxation into your daily routine:
• Take slow, deep breaths for a few minutes before bed. Do it again when you get up in the morning and then again whenever you are driving in the car or on your way to and from work.
• Create a list of things you “have” to do. By getting your “to do list” out of your head and on to paper (or into an organisational app on your phone), you will begin to alleviate the stress that comes with trying to remember it all.
• Take a few minutes and enjoy your present state. Allow yourself to feel where you are, not what you just did or all the things that have to get done today, tonight or this week. Just be still in one moment during the day.
• Take a few moments before bed – perhaps while you’re doing your deep breathing – to be grateful for what you have in your life. Dr. Murad says, “if you are breathing, you have something to be grateful for.” So say thanks, even if it is just for the little things.