The busy persons guide to relaxation
Relaxation is a skill and like all skills it requires dedication and commitment in order to see ‘results’ or feel the benefits.
Relaxation does not come naturally to me. Which is slightly unfortunate because I certainly love the feeling of being relaxed. However, my parents, gymnastics coaches and dance teachers all heavily drilled into me at a young age the importance of maximising on time. As a child I interpreted this as ‘must be doing something productive and task oriented at all times’.
I later learned (ha, and am still learning) is that the irony of avoiding relaxation is that a dedicated practice towards rest and recuperation will actually help me to maximise on time spent ‘doing things’.
In the city, relaxation is a little more avoidable. There are so many distractions, something is always going on, one can always be doing something to maximise on productivity, business, networking etc. Relaxation will often only show up in the form of illness, when our body forces upon us that need to STOP.
Sound familiar again?
London life has taught me A LOT about how to relax. Really relax. We can’t all book at holiday to the Maldives every time we feel the call of anxiety and stress. Instead, we need to learn to connect to the calmness at the eye of the storm.
Here are my TOP tips to learn to relaxation:
- Set a timer; ok so this one is for the full on control freaks (ie. Me) that can’t be trusted to ACTUALLY do more than 2 minutes of relaxation. I still use this technique in the height of some of my busiest and stressful projects, so that it actually happens. Set a reminder to stop and relax at the same time every day, and once that reminder goes off, set a timer for 20 minutes to force yourself to let go, stop, relax in some way. I know this may sound really rigid to a lot of you, but for those of us that will happily go days or even weeks neglecting some form of down time, this is the only way to make it happen. You won’t have to use this technique all the time, the more you do it, the more intuitive it becomes.
- What is relaxation to you? Seriously. What is it? You have to know what it is before you can ‘schedule it in’. For some of us it’s dancing, surfing, meditating, painting, reading … you’ve got to be able to lose yourself in the art of whatever it is.
- Do something that scares you a little. Skateboarding is scary for me, I love to snowboard and surf (although that can be scary too sometimes), but there is just something about speed and concrete that just makes me feel startled and invigorated at the same time. That kind of feeling can also help to pull you out of your ‘story’ or life-stress or habitual anxiety.
- Airplane Mode - is not just for an Aeroplane. Just put the phone down, maybe even in the other room, on airplane mode and remember life without the little distracting light box.
- Nature, nature and more nature - It really is the best natural cure for rumination (Rumination refers to the tendency to repetitively think about the causes, situational factors, and consequences of one's negative emotional experience). Scientists have studied the way that time spent in nature can actually reduce activity in the subgenus prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain where negative emotions are processed), therefore reducing rumination.
I hope this helps you relax.
I really regret relaxing - said no one ever.