With the summer upon us that means for many people going away on holiday! Being on holiday is ideally the time to destress, relax, get away from the stressors of day to day life and take time for you. The reality is unfortunately often the opposite as sometimes in our quest of organising the perfect break we spend our time away always in ‘what next’ mode. Forward thinking, keeping everyone busy and no time to sit back, breath and enjoy the ‘now’ moment can lead to an increase in stress levels!
I hope that the information below on stress will clearly explain why relaxation is important not just for holidays but fully integrated into day to day living. There will always be times of stress, the trick is to balance them with time for letting go of stressors and focus on letting go, lying back and relaxing.
So just was does stress do to our bodies and minds?
Let’s start with excerpts of the definition of stress taken from the Chambers Dictionary:
stress n: strain, a constraining influence, physical , emotional or mental pressure,; force; the system of forces applied to a body; the insistent assigning of weight or importance; emphasis; relative emphasis placed on a syllable or word…
stressor n: an agent or factor that causes stress
stressed-out (colloq): exhausted or incapacitated by psychological stress
stress out vt (colloq): to make (a person) exhausted from stress or nervous tension
An excerpt from dictionary.com gives us a more physical explanation:
stress physiology: a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain that, disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism
Stress or rather too much stress and especially over a prolonged period of time can have a detrimental effect on the workings of the body and emotional stability.
Some physical effects of stress on the body:
Headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, pain and tension in muscles, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, heart attacks, problems sleeping, libido.
Some emotional effects of stress:
Anxiety, irritability, anger, moody, lack of focus and motivation, depression, dissatisfaction, restlessness, feeling overwhelmed, feeling unable to cope
Some effects of stress on behaviour:
Excessive alcohol intake, drug abuse, social withdrawal, angry outbursts, undereating, exercising less or not at all, drinking more caffeine
Having talked about those stress indicators, let’s now get onto the fun bit of how to help turn a stressed body and mind into a state of relaxation – a huge challenge I hear you say. Yes indeed, more so for some than for others. The benefits talk for themselves, so why wouldn’t we want to strive towards being more relaxed!
As before, let’s start with a dictionary definition to help get ourselves focussed, again taken from the Chambers Dictionary
relax vt to loosen; to slacken; to make or become less close, tense, rigid, strict or severe.
Relaxation n the act of relaxing; the state of being relaxed; recreation
Excerpts from dictionary.com
relax vt to make less tense, rigid, or firm; make lax, to relax the muscles; to diminish the force of; to slacken or abate, as effort, attention; to make less strict or severe, as rules, discipline; to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety,
relaxation n abatement or relief from bodily or mental work, effort, application; an activity or recreation that provides such relief; diversion; entertainment; a loosening or slackening; diminution or remission of strictness or severity.
To be in a state of relaxation means being in a state of no stress, to help us all achieve this goal below are a few helpers, none of which need take too much time! Regular daily practice will bring noticeable benefits. As all of us are different, some things will work better for you than others.
The key to any of the following is really being totally involved.
Change your focus
Allow your mind to focus on what you’re doing and so distract it from those whirring thoughts. Every time you catch it whirring again, guide it back to what you’re doing.