In a world of go-go-go, there’s not much time left to relax between work and endless to-do lists.
To some people, it may seem like a waste of time, but putting in that little bit of effort can make those few minutes of relaxation well worth it.
Take a look at why relaxing is important and how you can enjoy these benefits. Without relaxation you can remain tired, stressed, unhealthy and get sick more often.
Many say rest is as important as the work we do day to day as without it, we wouldn’t be effective.
Benefits of Relaxation
Not sure if you have the time or willpower to take a relaxing break? Consider these benefits:
1. It Boosts Your Productivity
Too many people never take the time for a breather. Only one in five employees actually take a proper lunch break — with 39 percent citing that they eat lunch at their desk — according to Right Management research. However, research has shown that taking the time to relax can actually help you get more done. The New York Times reports that working in 90-minute intervals with a break in between can maximize productivity and actually help you get more done — even if you’re spending less time working.
2. It Improves Memory & Relaxation
Perhaps one reason relaxation boosts productivity is because it can help improve memory and concentration. This is evidenced by a study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington. In this study, they found that employees who were trained in relaxation and those who were trained in meditation showed improved memory. Those who practiced meditation also stayed more focused and reported feeling less negative about tasks performed.
3. It Improves Your Well-Being
In 2014, Gallup surveyed Americans about their vacation habits. What they found was that those who took more vacation time also reported a higher level of well-being than those who didn’t take vacations. In fact, their research concluded that vacation frequency may be a better predictor of well-being than income level.
4. It Reduces Stress
Stress is a natural response that has its benefits in certain situations, but stress can become overwhelming to a point where it interferes with your everyday life. In America, 75 percent of adults feel so stressed that they feel unhealthy because of it. Taking the time to relax can combat this stress by activating your body’s natural relaxation response, which in turn can boost your mood!
5. It Boosts Health
While it may seem like common sense that relaxing helps soothe the mind, did you know it can actually have benefits on the body as well? The Huffington Post reports on the benefits of relaxation, citing that it can:
- Reduce your risk of heart problems
- Lower your chance of catching a cold
- Lower your risk of stroke
- Promote healthy eating and therefore a healthier body weight
- Reduce acne
- Slow onset of breast cancer
Relaxation techniques have even been shown to reduce physical aches, too. For instance, certain yoga stretches can help relieve lower back pain.
While relaxation boosts your mood and makes your mind feel better, it also has a physiological response on the body, including lowering blood pressure, which makes it a beneficial exercise for both the physical and mental aspects of health.
Ways To Relax
Are you ready to start enjoying all these benefits of relaxation? Start with these exercises and lifestyle practices:
1. Schedule Downtime
Perhaps the best way to get your relaxation in is to treat it as a necessary part of life. Just like you schedule lunches and meetings, work in a time for relaxation throughout your day. During this time, try to avoid distractions (i.e. shut off your phone), and engage in activities that relax both your mind and your body. Examples of relaxing activities include:
- Doing yoga
- Getting a massage
- Deep breathing
- Listening to music
- Doing puzzles
- Playing with a pet
- Talking with a friend
2. Follow A Relaxation-Promoting Routine
Relaxing isn’t just something you do on the weekends, and it doesn’t always have to come with a schedule. If you find that certain things about your day stress you out, take action to tweak your routine slightly so you’re ready to take on those stressful situations.
For instance, when you wake up in the morning, that first glance at your phone may stress you out because you’re often bombarded with emails. But those emails will still be in your inbox in 10 minutes. So instead of checking your phone immediately when you wake up, take the first 10 minutes of your day to start with some deep breathing exercises, stretching, or even good old-fashioned cuddling (with a pet or loved one).
Another technique that doesn’t need any scheduling is to get up out of your desk throughout the day. Take a short, quick walk around the office to give your mind a mental break and to stimulate blood flow.
3. Take Advantage Of Your Vacation Time
As mentioned, individuals who take advantage of their vacation time report higher levels of well-being, yet in 2014, nearly 42 percent of Americans didn’t take any vacation days. Use this time to go traveling if you can. Otherwise, plan a “staycation” where you enjoy activities throughout your town or the surrounding area. Just be sure you’re not using this time to catch up on work since that defeats the whole purpose and won’t help you relax (however, if you must work on your trip, work ergonomically).
4. Get More Sleep
Sleeping, in and of itself, can help you relax (learn about proper sleeping positions here), but the amount of sleep you get can greatly impact its effectiveness. For example, one research study showed that basketball players who got more sleep at night drastically improved their performance on the court. With a target goal of 10 hours of sleep per night, free throw accuracy improved by 9 percent! It’s recommended that adults ages 18-64 get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. By using other relaxation techniques, you’ll find that it’s easier to fall asleep at night, too.
As you can see, relaxation isn’t only beneficial, it’s an important part of building a healthy, happy life. Start with one goal — such as taking your full lunch break every day — and continue to add more relaxation exercises into your daily routine once you’ve established new habits. Soon you should start noticing that you’re in a better mood, you’re more productive, and you feel better all around.
Written by Dr. Thomas B. Trafecanty, the Director of Operations at TheBackStore.com. He is a chiropractor who attended Southern California University of Health Sciences along with receiving a BS in Biochemistry at California State University, Northridge. His hobbies include boating and spending time with his two kids.
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