Apr 20, 2009

The Importance of Relaxation

Whether it’s in the classroom, at the office, or simply out on the street running errands, the stress of everyday life can be a killer. All the anxiety that we endure contributes to a variety of health risks, such as elevated blood pressure, heart disease, and decreased immune system effectiveness (to name just a few). It is important to balance these mental and physical strains with techniques that let us unwind.

The health benefits of effective relaxation are great and varied. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who are more relaxed will have reduced muscle tension, increased blood flow to major muscles, slower breathing rate, and a decreased demand for oxygen. Additionally, they will respond to stressful situations in a healthier fashion, with a decrease in negative emotional reactions (such as anger), greater energy reserves, and better concentration.

There are many ways to relax, and finding the most effective method is dependant on the individual (check past blogs for a few ideas). However, here are a few techniques to explore:

One way many people like to relax is by soaking in a hot tub. The warm water will promote blood flow and loosen joints, as well as help relieve any muscle pain. This can be paired with a variety of other relaxing activities, such as listening to music, meditating, or massage (particularly if you happen to be relaxing in a hot tub equipped with jets).

Exercise is another good stress-reliever. In addition to the release of brain-chemicals that promote healthy cognitive function, exercise allows muscles to release stored energy, thereby reducing tension. Exercise is also a form of meditation, allowing for introspection and reflection away from the hassle of daily routine.

Stretching and Yoga techniques are also quite popular. Read up on the various poses and practices that this ancient stress relief has to offer. You can start at home, and when you want to progress, attend a class. Yoga combines a variety of different physical and mental methods that will help integrate your mind and body, helping you become more aware of how you are stressed and how to alleviate that stress.

Relaxation is an important factor to balancing one’s life. Without it, many things suffer. Take time to stabilize your stress, and you will be healthier, happier, and more effective in everything you do.


Seedplanter said...

Good, practical info for us all. I know that when I don't make time to relax, I pay for it eventually. I'm more productive when I pull away and give myself some space to breathe. Thanks for the good reminder.

Jonathan Lopez said...

So much of what we do is a matter of balance. In a 2006 article from ScienceDaily.com, the efficiency of the brain is explored in relation to diet, exercise, and of course, stress. In a balanced, healthy lifestyle, the brain thrives. It's a lot like the motor of a car- it will run more smoothly and efficiently on a cool, open highway, as opposed to stop-and-go traffic in the desert.

Jonathan Lopez said...

A few good points on coping with stress from the HippoCampus.org Psychology course:

http://www.montereyinstitute.org/courses/Psychology/course files/multimedia/lesson60/lessonp.html?showTopic=1