Relaxed? Maintaining a state of relaxation may be just what you need to get healthy – if you’re not – and stay healthy – if you are. While we often hear that a certain amount of stress can be helpful, particularly when there are completion dates looming for important projects or vitally important matters that require focus, attention and perhaps a bit of adrenaline at times, we all intuitively (and perhaps otherwise) know that prolonged stress works against good health … and therefore achieving and maintaining healthy weight, among many other benefits. Knowing why needless systemic stress is not beneficial and how to minimize it are the keys to to being both motivated and proactive in keeping yourself happily relaxed as much as possible.
Let’s start with the “why.” Here is an article which lists a number of benefits from regular relaxation:
- Relaxation benefits the heart – helpful in mitigating high blood pressure and other heart dysfunction
- Relaxation minimizes the likelihood of colds – stress and inflammation tend to correlate
- Relaxation promotes higher performing memory
- Relaxation lowers the risk of strokes
- Relaxation tends to ward off depression
- Relaxation enables better decision-making
- Relaxation minimizes weight gain – minimize stress-related eating … and ’nuff said!
- Relaxation combats stress-induced acne
- Relaxation promotes healthy amorous interest – need we say more?
- Relaxation may help mitigate breast cancer
Now we can address some practical “how” suggestions. Here are some strategies for preventing stress:
- Identify what seems to be your stress factors – becoming mindful of triggers can help identify the causes
- Change the stressors you can change … and learn to maintain a healthy perspective about the ones that aren’t readily changed by your best efforts*
- Set limits – Say “no” gently but firmly to things beyond human capacity (yours) and reasonable demands on your time, stamina, finances and goodwill
- Be proactive to avoid overwhelm – working with focus, dedication (while taking breaks every so often) and diligence on what needs to be done can often avoid getting into ‘crunch mode’ and panicky behavior; try setting calendar reminders on your computer, laptop, phone, etc. a few days ahead of when you realistically need to start (not finish) a project to give yourself plenty of time; a relaxed attitude produces better results, too
- Involve other people – identify as early as possible when something is outside your realm of expertise and/or capacity and ask for help, early and often … It’s more fun when you have support on a shared interest, anyway
- Stay active – good ol’ exercise as aerobic, cardiovascular-maintaining activity to keep your body and mind fit and toned goes a long way toward de-stressing, deeply relaxing and better sleep
- Try – or continue – modalities that may work for you such as meditation, hot yoga, massage, chiropractic, tai chi or other martial arts, deep breathing, acupuncture, and many others
- Maintain your optimism – Keep things in perspective; try not to take life too seriously, laugh when you can, and see the humor in it all
Sometimes the best approach is to do your best … and learn to not condemn yourself (or anyone else) when situations appear to be outside the reach of things we can easily change. * This “Serenity Prayer” (excerpted here) by Reinhold Niebuhr has helped many:
“… grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Give yourself some slack – perhaps some hammock time? – and learn to maintain a relaxed attitude … It’s good for your health!
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