When you stop and think about it, we spend a considerable amount of time trying to relax. We spend money for massages to "work the stress" out. Some take spa trips or even expensive vacations just to break free and relax. There are those who are able to just mentally check out and relax when they go for a run.
However you do it and whatever you're goal is, relaxation is extremely important for your overall wellbeing.
Just how important is it and why do you need relaxation?
Here are just a few of the many reasons why it's crucial to include relaxing in your daily schedule.
Controlling Your Breathing
In most traditional forms of relaxation, you begin to take longer, deeper breaths.
In fact, some forms of meditation and relaxation revolve around controlled breathing.
Controlled breathing helps increase the oxygen flow through your body. The increased level of oxygen reaches the rest of your body and improve cellular activity. It also helps brain functionality as well.
When you learn to control your breathing and slow down your rate of breath, you'll also slow down your heart rate.
This stabilizes your blood pressure. Chances are, you spend so much of your daily routine running around and even worrying about completing varying tasks, you can use a few minutes just slowing down your breathing and your heart rate (North Shore, 2016).
Yoga and Breathing
Yoga has shifted in certain ways over the years (we're looking at you goat yoga). Traditional yoga has always been about opening up your body, controlling your breathing and emptying your mind.
In some ways, it can be a form of meditation. Zen is reached when the mind becomes clear and there are no distractions.
There are many ways to focus on achieving Zen. You may have come across books, like Zen in the Art of Tea Making. Or even Zen in the Art of Archery. Religious monks would focus on making tea or archery or a number of other tasks not just to perfect making tea.
But to essentially become one with the tea as their mind no longer wanders. It's like the entire process becomes an extension of the body. Focusing on one given task helps center thought. It prevents thought from expanding elsewhere. You may know someone who enjoys building models.
They say it relaxes them. That's the beginning. Initially, all thought is focused on the one object, and eventually thought is no longer needed. Yoga, traditional yoga, helps with this.
Yoga is the combination of opening the body up through stretches and breathing. It helps calm the mind and allows both the body and mind to focus on the one task.
Eventually, the mind is no longer needed. This kind of relaxation has a number of benefits.
First, it reduces stress levels. By shutting off the brain stress can no longer affect the body. All stress comes from the mind, which can affect the chemical production from the brain. Blocking out stress improves nearly every other aspect of the body and how it functions.
Of course, with the addition of yoga into the practice of relaxation, it also helps stretch the body while improving balance and flexibility (Huffington Post, 2014).
Reduce Tension in the Body
You may not realize it, but your body is almost always tense. Or, at the very least, there are areas of the body that are always tense. This tension (usually in the back and shoulders, but it can be found anywhere) throws off the rest of your body. The body is all checks and balances.
A change in how one area of the body works will affect the rest of your body.
For example, if your left lower back remains tense, such as from standing with your weight on one side, or by even sleeping on a side, it causes the opposite muscle to stretch.
The tense muscle also pulls the skeletal system away from its proper alignment as both the muscles and bones work closely together. This can lead to other issues with other organs as a skeletal shift in the lower back then affects your shoulders and neck.
As everything is connected everything is, in some shape or form, affected. By relaxing you allow your body's muscles to gradually relax.
Have you ever found that you're able to relax easier in higher temperature locations?
From sitting in a sauna or bubble bath to hot stone massage therapy, all of these forms of higher temperatures open up the muscles and reduce tension.
By relaxing and reducing the tension in your body you'll help the body function as it should. We do recommend going to see a certified massage therapist from time to time.
You are not always able to completely open up your muscles and you may need help with this. Going in for a massage isn't just having someone rub your body.
The best therapists actually do open the muscles to remove tension, allowing you to both relax but to realign yourself. You may even want to see a physical therapist as they can both point you in the direction of a quality massage therapist, but they can identify other ways to improve your muscular and skeletal functionality (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
Improve Energy For Later
If you're already running around, always doing something, always working out or just always on the move, you're constantly burning energy. Some of that is good. It helps you burn calories.
However, if you've ever worked out on less than a full tank of energy, you know how much it suffers. You put in a subpar workout and don't get out of it what you should.
So take a few minutes and just relax. Take some "me" time and kick back while you focus on breathing or obtaining your own personal Zen (Very Well Mind, 2017).
Finding time for yourself to relax, at least on a daily basis, can prove more than challenging. From driving kids around to sports practices to work and just taking care of everything you need to around the house, you might not have the kind of time you might think.
However, just a few minutes of relaxation a day can do wonders.
So whether you use guided meditation videos on YouTube, you try to spend a few calm minutes a day on your own, or you relax in a bubble bath with a book, try to squeeze at least a few minutes worth of relaxation into your daily routine every day.
The rest of your day will thank you for it.