Do you consider relaxing a waste of precious time? Do you feel guilty if you aren’t constantly productive? You may be overlooking the very real benefits of time to rest and relax. Instead of a luxury, relaxation can lead to extreme happiness by playing an essential role in mental and physical health.
Stress is a major health problem and it has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, and other serious illnesses. In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all visits to doctors are for stress-related disorders.
Rest and relaxation top the list of effective self-care and stress management techniques. Relaxation boosts happiness by counteracting the stress response – muscles relax, breathing and heartbeat slow down, and the digestive system functions more efficiently. Regular relaxation strengthens the immune system and helps the body heal itself, reducing the effects of chronic stress. Incorporate relaxation into your life and notice that you begin to feel better!
While it may not seem logical, you may get more done by taking breaks and doing less. When you take a break, relax, and let your thoughts slow down, the mind begins to access the resources of the right brain – the creative, intuitive, and non-linear part of the mind. After relaxing, you may find that you approach your work with a new perspective and that you are able to generate new solutions to problems.
Relaxation further contributes to happiness by providing a detachment from everyday busyness that enables us to realize what is really important to us. When we operate from our values, we are usually happier and more satisfied with our lives.
Quick relaxation techniques are useful in dealing with immediate stress. Stopping, even for the shortest time, will recharge your batteries and will give you more energy. Create little breaks in your busy schedule. Consider your home your sanctuary and place of relaxation. Set boundaries to keep it as work-free as possible and avoid the temptation to bring work home by complaining about it.
Regular, concentrated rest and relaxation has a deeper and more permanent effect on reversing stress. Explore leisurely activities apart from your work. Choose something that you consider relaxing and that you will commit to doing on a regular basis. This might be sports, gardening, reading, exercise, or even time to daydream – whatever you choose should be something that you enjoy. There is no point in creating more stress for yourself by forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy!
Be a friend to yourself and give yourself the gift of rest. Learn to value rest and relaxation as much as you value activity. And, enjoy increased happiness as you reduce the stress in your life!