Life. Is. Stressful.
Who has time to relax with everything we’ve got going on? Between demands from work, school, family, etc. there is very little time left to relax. However, recent research has shown that as little as 10 to 20 minutes a day of dedicated relaxation time can have dramatic effects including increased energy, decreased anxiety and improved sleep, health, and concentration.
Whenever I ask people how they relax the #1 answer I get is “watching TV” because they just want to “turn off” their brain. This is definitely something that I am prone to do (binge watching my favorite TV show might as well be listed on my resume at this point). However, neuroscientists have found that watching TV doesn’t actually allow our brains to rest because it puts it into this limbo state between actively engaged and completely resting. Contrary to popular belief, resting doesn’t mean we should turn off our brain but we should actually focus our mind elsewhere.
The most effective forms of relaxation, meditation, prayer, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation all have four things in common:
- A quiet environment
- A comfortable position
- An internal focus
- A “letting go”.
These activities are what induce the relaxation response and allow you to experience all of those benefits I listed above. The other great thing about these kinds of relaxation techniques is that they can be done “in the moment,” meaning they can help you to calm down and make a healthier decision instead of reaching for that donut at the staff meeting or going through the drive-thru instead of going home to make a healthy meal.
When practiced regularly, relaxation can help you stay calm, cool, and collected during those more stressful times of life.
How can you incorporate 10 minutes of relaxation into your day? Can you pray/meditate when you wake up in the morning or right before bed? Can you do some progressive muscle relaxation while sitting at your desk at work? Can you do some yoga on your lunch break? What fits into your life? Here are my top 10 ways to beat stress and build resilience.