Why do we need to relax?

There are so many health benefits when we allow ourselves time to fully relax. One of the biggest well-being factors to relaxation is the increase in blood flow to our muscles and the lowering of fatigue. We live very stressful lives and tend to miss this very important component of optimal health. Without relaxation our stress symptoms and anxiety increase which can lead to ill health inducing high blood pressure, heart and circulatory diseases. Relaxation techniques can help with the reduction of stress and also aids in the reducing of muscle tension and chronic pain. Relaxation helps both physical and mental health. Relaxation techniques have also been known to reduce mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety

How do we fully relax?

There are many forms and techniques to enable us to relax. When we say we are relaxing.......are we really? The answer to this is probably 'No'!

Often, when we say we are having a relaxing evening, this invariable is not the case! We are generally either, sitting on the sofa scrolling through social media, joining a group of friends for a night of eating and drinking or eating takeaways rather than having to spend our valuable time cooking. These activities may feel like a good use of our time but they are not relaxing techniques to enhance our health.

Relaxation techniques as with most things, will take some time and practice to fully reap the benefits on offer. We often feel we are too short on time to add yet another form of exercise into our already long list of 'things to do'. Relaxation methods can actually take as little as 5 minutes to gain a substantial amount of well-being. There are also some very pleasurable ways to relax which will make us willing to put aside some allotted free time to enjoy.

1. Relaxation Techniques.
2. Deep breathing.
3. Meditation.
4. Music or Art therapy.
5. Yoga.
6. Mindful walking.
7. Light exercise in the fresh air.
8. Visualisation.
9. Creative hobbies.
10.Tai Chi.
11.A massage.
12.Spa time.

There is a very simple and effective relaxation technique that requires very little skill and well worth 5 minutes of your time. Deep breathing will help conquer your usual reactions to stressful situations. One of the physical symptoms of stress is rapid breathing. Once you have practised deep breathing and recognised the calming effect it has on your physical and mental self, you will be able to apply this technique in future moments of stress.

Deep Breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

1.Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.

2.Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.

3.Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.

4.Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling.

5.Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.

6.Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

7.Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

There are so many simple ways to fully relax and place yourself in the ‘present’ moment. Enjoy your relaxation time and savour every minute. Here are some healthy relaxation tips and ideas:

1.Download a relaxation app
2.Take 20 minutes to curl up with a book and a hot drink
3.Put your phone away and listen to your favourite music/podcast
4.Light some candles and take a warm bubble bath
5.Turn off all social media and just sit and breathe
6.Go for a stroll and notice all that surrounds you
7.Write down all your thoughts and clear your mind

Relaxation techniques take time to practice, but as you learn each practice you will become aware of muscle tension and the physical sensations of stress. Don't give up if it feels an impossible task and the benefits do not seem apparent initially.

Give yourself some time and enjoy the space and 'me' time you give yourself to truly relax. This is a skill and as with all skills, it takes practice. Try several practices until you find the one that suits you and the one you are comfortable with. These are the benefits of relaxation for your physical and mental health:

1. Lower blood pressure.
2. Reduction of stress levels.
3. Slower and deeper breathing
4. Reduction of muscle tension and chronic pain.
5. Lowering fatigue levels.
6. Increased blood flow to major muscles.
7. Improved digestion.
8. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
9. Improving cognitive skills.
10.Improving sleep time.
11.Improving mood.
12.Reducing anger and frustration.
13.Slower heart rate.
14.Increasing confidence in handling moments of stress.

Author's Bio: 

Catherine is a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer and founder of Healthy Forever Fitness Motivation. https://www.healthyforeverfitnessmotivation.co.uk/
Her mission is to help everyone stay active and live a healthy and happy life. Catherine promotes all things 'positive' and believes that all aspects of health can work together in harmony. A healthy body and mind, together with good nutrition will achieve optimal health