Relaxation time is considered a luxury. It’s a rare event for many people given the hectic lifestyles they live. It’s not uncommon to hear of people that have not had a holiday in 5 years or more, something which I have been guilty of in the past. Those who do find time to take a vacation are met with envy or even disbelief.
With the whole world expecting us to remain on top of our game, relaxing now seems to be associated with being lax, happy-go-lucky or having a devil-may-care attitude.
But what does relaxing really mean? Why is it an essential part of our lives, and thus, part of the Natural Dermatology Regimen?
Relaxation is a great stress reliever. With the constant hectic demands of daily life to contend with, you need to find some time for yourself to unwind and free your mind of worries. This can be achieved in anything from a few minutes to an hour. Often, relaxation is effectively combined with a simple activity such as a massage, which provides a mechanism to clear your mind.
Japanese business people saw the value of relaxation and productivity. They have incorporated activities like morning exercises, afternoon naps, and even an hour in the sauna during office hours. They believe that a relaxed person is also a productive one.
The benefits of relaxation are so profound that they will have an immediate effect on your physical condition. Denying the body relaxation time will likely lead to tension, irritability, and worse, depression. It is important to realize that relaxation time is not wasted time. Finding your own “Me Time”, even if it is only half an hour, allows your body to regain its composure, relieves the burdens of the mind, and allows balance amidst all chaos. Granting yourself even the smallest amount of relaxation time will bring large positive changes to your lifestyle.
Relaxation and Your Health
Understanding the health benefits of relaxation requires you to understand its opposite—stress! When you are stressed, a chemical reaction happens within your body. Hormones are released to allow you to make that quick “flight-or-fight” reaction. Your heart beats faster, your breathing becomes more rapid, and your blood vessels constrict.
When you are in a constant state of stress, your body is subjected to more pressure that it can normally manage. In time, your physical, emotional, and mental capability will be severely affected. This will then lead to health conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety disorder, chronic headache, and even heart failure.
Without relaxation, your body’s immune system will eventually weaken and your ability to fight off disease or even prevent one is compromised.
Benefits of Relaxation
Relaxation has endless physical and psychological benefits. Here are a few reasons to take relaxation more seriously:
1. It maintains the healthy glow of your skin
Medical experts have not yet found the direct correlation between stress and acne, but a study conducted among college students who are under the stress of major exams have experienced significant acne outbreaks.
This, according to experts, may be attributed to excessive release of oil in the skin, which gathers dust and dirt. Eventually this debris will clog up the skin’s pores, gather bacteria, and cause infection and acne. Furthermore, stress degrades the condition of the body and affects the ability of the detoxification system (the liver and the gut) to work effectively, leading to excess toxins in the body, which are excreted out of the pores of the skin, contributing to acne.
Also when you are in a relaxed state, you are less likely to pick or squeeze an acne lesion, which can usually result in permanent scarring on your face.
2. It’s good for your heart
Relaxation allows your body to get rid of the adrenaline rush that is often associated with stressful situation. It allows the heart to relax and function normally. It also lowers the risk of suffering from stroke by almost 24% according to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge in 2007.
3. You won’t easily catch a cold when you’re relaxed
Studies have shown that people living in stressful conditions for a month or more are more likely to catch a cold than those who are not. So if you happen to catch a cold anytime soon, you might want to ask yourself if you have been under a lot of stress lately and might need some form of relaxation.
4. Relaxation is a brain-booster
Clinical studies show that stress affects the part of the brain responsible for cognitive analysis, abstract thought, and decision making. This is one reason why decisions made under duress are often questionable. If you want your brain to function normally, try to relax.
Another reason to unwind is that a relaxed state of mind allows the brain to make “painful” decisions rationally. A 2012 study conducted by the University of Southern California has shown that individuals functioning under high stress conditions tend to concentrate on the “positive” aspects of a choice, rather than to weigh all options. The same study says that the compulsion to get a “reward” is far greater than to consider of the opposite.
5. Relaxation keeps the fats away
When you are relaxed, you save yourself from craving sweets and other energy—boosting food. This is especially important for chronic stress eaters who find their hands dipped on anything that can “relieve” their stress. To go further, relaxation is far cheaper than shopping—a totally unhelpful response to managing stress.
Finding the Best Relaxation Techniques for You
First and foremost, relaxing involves you taking time for yourself. Relaxation does not mean you have to take a long vacation in the Bahamas—thinking of the expenses alone is stressful enough. Relaxing is simply giving yourself time to unwind and your mind to rest.
Each person has his or her own means of relaxing; what might work for some may not work for others. When choosing a relaxation method, make sure that it doesn’t involve too much physical or mental activity. For example, you may want to listen to music to relax. Choose naturalistic Zen music over the charts – music with lyrics engages the brain, hindering relaxation.
Taking a hot bath or getting a massage are simple and common ways to relax. You could choose to take a walk, another simple and free form of unwinding. A walk through the countryside or along your street will do! Sitting on the porch and enjoying the heat of the morning sun before commencing with your day allows the brain a small amount of time to regroup.
Yoga and Tai Chi are also good ways to relax, although they may require some brain activity at first if you are a beginner.
Activities like driving or playing a musical instrument can also be relaxing for some. However, at Natural Dermatology, we recommend staying away from anything which requires attention to detail in order to maximize your benefits.
Relaxation is as important as eating and breathing. It allows our bodies to function normally, keeps our brains from becoming overworked, and cleanses us of the stress of everyday life. Find time to relax—you simply deserve it.