Every year, I look forward to summer. Long, lazy days spent outdoors and enjoying time with friends and family (finally!). Yet when the season arrives, inevitably I am just as busy as usual, if not more so! Trying to fit in all that “summer fun” while maintaining work and household responsibilities. If this sounds all too familiar to you, then you need to make time to relax. In fact, we all need to relax every day to stay healthy, happy, and productive. Yes, you read that right - you need to take time to chill out so you can do more.
Relaxation is vital for a healthy mind and is required to maintain motivation and interest in our lives and careers. Taking time to rest is also important to achieving optimal performance and health. Think about it; if you’re in a constant state of hurriedness and always on the go, you will end up exhausted. Everything will become a struggle! Relaxation provides the mind-body integration necessary for peak performance in whatever it is you are doing.
When our bodies are stressed, we lose motivation. On the flip side, working from a more relaxed state improves your concentration, ability to tune out distractions, and even helps you learn better. It’s much easier to introduce new thoughts and ideas when your mind is clear. When I used to tutor algebra in college, I’d start every session by taking deep breaths with the student. This took away some of the stress they felt about the subject, so we could focus on the topic with clarity.
When you are able to relax, you’re also able to sleep better. The running thoughts in your head won’t have the power to keep you up anymore, because you took time to relax and process them beforehand. Through a regular relaxation practice, you can take back control of your mind, be more present, and increase your overall energy.
We know that living with high levels of stress can be damaging to our wellbeing, but even low-level stress without respite can harm your health. By being go-go-go all the time, you may not sense the signals that your body is sending to you that you are overdoing things.
You may also be putting others at risk when you don’t take time to unwind regularly. We are less careful and more distracted when stressed, tense, or tired, which is a big problem when driving or using dangerous machinery. Our mood is also affected, making us more combative, angry, frustrated, snappy, and the like.
Our bodies are constantly trying to tell us things, but when we are too stressed these signs are easy to miss. Common effects of chronic lack of relaxation are tension, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and a poor immune system.
Early warning signs that you need to take a break could be yawning, lack of concentration, or feeling restless. If you’re working at your desk, you should stretch and move about at least once an hour. In these days of Zoom meetings, the camera-off ones are a great time to stand up and stretch.
By learning your signs of stress or that you need a break, you can avoid a lot of the negative and fatiguing effects associated with it and be far healthier overall.
Read More: 5 Ways to Cope with Stress
Our lives are so busy, especially as many people are working at home and it's harder to get away from their work. Even when there are huge demands on your life, it’s still necessary to find your own time and space to relax. You need to get your mind clear and your body tension free to regain focus, cool down, and help you return to a balanced physical state.
Read More: Find Relief From Acute Stress
Being “too busy” to relax is a big red flag that you need to make the time. Whatever time you can create for yourself will be beneficial to your mind and body. Try taking twenty minutes a few times a day to rest and relax; and if you can’t find that time, it’s probably a good idea to look at your life and ask questions about priorities, productivity, and pressure you are putting on yourself.
When time is short, there are a number of things you can do to relax. What you do will be personal to you, so it may take some time to figure out what leaves you feeling recharged. Here are some ideas:
In my coaching, I work with almost everyone with their relaxation and stress levels (no surprise there!). Many of them find it difficult to slow down in the beginning, but after a few weeks of commitment on their part, most experience a noticeable shift and really start to see the benefits in their lives.
Daily relaxation practices are key to maintaining our well being and productivity, but when you can, be sure to schedule a longer time to relax. Don’t wait until you are totally exhausted to book a trip or weekend away, make it a priority and something you can look forward to.
This is my way of telling you that I’m taking off for a vacation and road trip with my family for a few weeks! I’m super excited, because since I can work from anywhere, I tend to do just that. But I’m taking my own advice, and am pledging to take two weeks off every summer and winter. I know that it will fuel my inspiration and I'll have that much more to contribute to you, my podcast audience, my coaching clients, and to my family.
Be sure to get on my email list for some fun round-up emails while I’m gone. I’m also going to leave you this FREE downloadable resource for Reducing Stress & Increasing Relaxation in your day to day life. Now it’s your turn; have a look at your calendar this summer, and build in time to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body.
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