Relaxation! Take a pill and chill out already. Ugh, if only it were as easy to relax as it was for someone to say the word relax. Why is it so hard to quiet a rioting mind? Why is it so hard to take a pill and chill out, let the world drift by, admire its beauty, and flow with it effortlessly without actually taking a literal pill or recreational drug?
Are we hardwired to constantly overthink to the point of exhaustion and burnout, or are we all closet masochists punishing ourselves with the relentless drive to be productive, making the most of our time in these 3D bodies?
The biggest question of all is what is the definition of relaxation, and who decides when one has reached this spurious place of wonderment? The answer is that you alone decide when you have reached a state of relaxation.
Not surprisingly, if you reach for a dictionary to define the word relaxation, you discover the answer you seek is: The state of being free from tension and anxiety. Okay, how do we rid ourselves of tension and anxiety if we are not anxious or under stress, and neither of those options is the cause of a mind that refuses to stop thinking and analysing everything and anything?
Why does this topic have more questions that exacerbate the problem than answers to solve the conundrum, and isn’t this the definition of a vicious circle? How can you relax if your brain refuses to switch off?
Good Mental Health
Our mental health changes from day to day and situation to situation. People placed under trying, testing, and heart-breaking conditions will not share the bright, happy, effervescent disposition of someone without a care in the world and all the money, time, love, and security they require on a day-to-day basis that sees them problem free.
The moment something goes wrong in our lives, we believe it to be a problem. That causes stress and anxiety as we think about how to solve the problem and place ourselves under increasing pressure. That pressure has to manifest into form, and it does so by creating chaos, depression, and more problems that seem to add to the growing stress levels until we break.
How do we take good care of our mental health when we cannot relax, chill out and find our Zen zone when we need it most? We don’t have the luxury of taking an hour to do a deep meditation or get a massage. However, we have been conditioned to believe that meditation suggests the instant need to sit in an uncomfortable pose most people cannot get into while humming or chanting to monk music and singing bowls. This is not true. Meditation comes in many forms.
Thankfully, the answer is far more simplistic, you don’t have to be hyper-flexible, and you can do it anywhere without any special equipment or designer yoga clothing that costs a fortune.
Zen Zone Options
Let’s address the other options available to us when and where we have the time and funds to pursue a deeper level of relaxation.
The first things that likely come to mind are yoga and meditation. While both options have their time and place, there are several options to consider that bring stress relief, so let’s check them out.
Yoga is, at its core, fundamentally instructor-led stretching for people wearing skin-tight, skimpy outfits that leave nothing to the imagination. Don’t get me wrong; if staring at the graphically hugged neither region of your classmates is what relaxes you, you will have found your Zen zone. If, however, you find yourself growing more agitated than you were when you went into the class, and you happen to be ultra-flexible due to hypermobile joints and a gymnastic background that sees your yoga instructor gets a case of ‘the green-eyed monster, yoga might not be for you.
Meditation tends to be used incorrectly as a substitute term for relaxation when in fact, it is the practice of stilling the mind through breathing exercises that allow your entire body to relax. When that happens, the mind stills, the white noise disappears, and you are transported to a tranquil place of serenity you wish never to leave. Alas, in order for that deep level of meditation to be effective, it requires isolation and a quiet place without interruption or noise, especially in the beginning stages of learning how to block out the external world and focus on … well, nothing but your breathing.
Hobby Time can never be overlooked. Relaxation doesn’t have to be either of the above exclusively. Relaxation is doing something that brings you joy and a respite from the mental torture causing your stress, tension, or anxiety. Taking up a new hobby like pottery, painting, writing, gardening, crafting, or woodworking can go a long way to delivering individual relaxation.
As can taking a new course in a subject, you might not have previously considered.
First Aid courses are a fantastic way to learn new skills that save lives and open up a world of new and interesting people to socialise with. When you undertake activities with like-minded people, you find yourself relaxing and enjoying your life despite the pressure and stress you might have in the background. Taking a break from that pressure is what relaxation is about. It is taking that metaphorical chill pill, and you don’t have to be isolated from the world or squeezed into lycra.
Aquariums are not what most western people would consider to be relaxing, and yet, for thousands of years, goldfish in ponds and aquariums have delivered countless hours of relaxation and fascination to billions of people across Asia. The bonus to this form of stress relief is that you get to custom design your own fish tank.
Taking the time to place your pebbles, situate your filters, and add your chosen décor items and fresh plants is all part of the relaxation process. Once you have your tank set up and your water in it has sat and settled, come up to the correct temperature for your chosen fish, you are then able to source your fish of choice, from cold water coy to tropical varieties. The combinations are endless and interchangeable. When you finally sit back, put on your favourite classical music, sip a little wine, and get lost in watching the antics of your fish, you find yourself genuinely relaxing as you release the tension and stress.
Sports can be terrific for changing the mood of a person who enjoys undertaking physical activity. When you exercise, the chemicals in your brain undergo changes that give the body chemical rewards. There is a sport for everyone; they don’t all have to be cardiovascular, high-intensity, kill-yourself marathons. Options like walking, hiking, martial arts, table tennis, chess in the park, sex, billiards, swimming laps in a pool or riding the waves in the ocean are all wonderful ways of relaxing while getting fresh air and vitamin D.
If sports have a downside, it is only that injuries are the side effect of this form of stress relief and relaxation. With injuries comes the need to know basic First Aid skills not only for treating yourself and loved ones but for rendering aid to anyone who has been injured and requires medical assistance in the moment. If your First Aid skills are non-existent or outdated, now is a great time to take a First Aid course with a nationally recognised training organisation that will certify your First Aid skills, giving you a handy little bonus for your resume.
If none of the above options works for you, consider talking to your doctor for a mental health assessment. You might discover that talking to a therapist or being prescribed medication is the correct treatment for your individual situation. There is no shame in needing help or asking for it when the load gets too heavy to carry alone.
Life is a journey filled with lessons we gain from our experiences, but not all lessons are pleasant and enjoyable. Sometimes the lessons are soul-destroying, and you need to love yourself enough to ensure you always maintain good mental health the same way you maintain clean teeth and a flawless dress sense. Nourish your mind and lungs with the same lavish time and dedication you nourish your career, body and stomach.
Deep Breathing Is the Answer You Seek
Deep breathing is the most effective way to quiet the mind, release the tension and relax. It is 100 per cent free and can be done anywhere when you feel the stress levels rising or need to decompress. Instead of road rage while stuck in a traffic jam or acting on the impulse to resort to physical violence of a colleague pushing your buttons, turn inwards and concentrate on taking a dozen long, slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Why Must It Be In Through The Nose And Out Via The Mouth
When you inhale via the nose, you fill the lungs with warm filtered air. When you inhale through your mouth, you limit the amount of air your lungs can inhale. It is more of a gulp. Don’t believe me? Try it now. Take the deepest breath you can in via your mouth, then release it. Now slowly inhale through your nose until you feel your lungs expanding and filling to the limit, then exhale. See the vast difference between the two breathing techniques. Mouth breathing is shallow breathing or stomach breathing. Lung breathing is deep breathing. Deep breathing forces the body and the mind to relax. When you deep breathe, your entire body is filled to capacity with fresh oxygen.
Five minutes of deep breathing every three hours is enough to ensure that you spend your days relaxed, going with the flow of energy around you, and able to overcome any obstacles sent your way. Your mind will be clearer and your thought processes sharper all in the time it would take to light up a cigarette and smoke it. Deep breathing meditation will always ensure good mental and physical health. Smoking will have the opposite effect over time.
How Do I Deep Breathe Correctly
Start by inhaling through your nose and counting for seven seconds, hold it for two, and slowly release it out of your mouth for seven seconds. On the next breath in through the nose, add one second to both the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate on feeling your lungs expand a little more to hold more air with each deeper, slower, longer breath inhaled and exhaled. When you reach ten seconds, you should find that your intrusive thoughts have been edged out by focusing on your breath.
Once you reach that state of awareness, relax your entire body. Mentally order yourself to relax all muscles and allow your body to become a rag doll. You will feel the level of tension and stress you were holding yourself under magically release and grant you instant relaxation.
Background Meditation Music
The internet is filled with a variety of meditation music styles. Finding one that you like and resonate with and playing it softly in the background while you work can subconsciously calm you even in the most stressful situations. While it is not always going to be a viable option in some workplaces, with the invention of wireless earbuds, there is no excuse for not popping one bud into your ear on a low volume setting and letting the soothing sounds work on a subconscious level, while still giving you perfect hearing and awareness of all around you.
Video Relaxation Music Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H6nuROx1lA
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