HEALTHY LIVING

How to Chill Out and Truly Relax

Do we ever really rest in this society anymore? We get up, get the kids ready, go to work, work all day, come home, have dinner, work some more, and collapse in bed. But when do we stop to chill out? So you get your two weeks of vacation time every year. Sorry to say, but that doesn’t apply (and that’s talking to those of you who actually take it). I’m specifically talking about daily relaxation, meditation, reflection and just plain stopping doing.

This is not necessarily watching TV or a movie. This is quiet rest, maybe reading or napping. Maybe you can meditate, take a bath, sauna, or do something that is restorative in nature, daily.

Watching TV or taking the kids to a soccer game is not restoring you. I understand that life happens; stuff is constantly happening and you want/are expected to be a part of it. Yet, if you are depleted and chronically stressed it is likely that your presence will be of no good to anyone.

Despite forcing yourself to do things that are supposed to be fun, do you find yourself unable to relax and enjoy? You might wake up one day and realize a year (or more) has passed, and you can’t even remember any of the things you pushed yourself to do because you were not present, awake, or alive in yourself at the time. Promise daily time for yourself, even if it is two deep, diaphragmatic breaths or 10 minutes of meditation before your kids tear the house apart in the morning. Try it!

Breath consciously. That means inhaling deeply, to fill your lungs, and them empty them completely.

In my book, I stress how important breathing is to a healthy body. Did you know that the harmful effects of stress (physical, emotional, and environmental) have been proven again and again? Our bodies respond to stress by releasing the hormone cortisol, which can be damaging to your body in the long term. We need to provide a constant counter balance to stress, and a key tool is breathing. While breathing can be meditative and good for calming stress, it also has a physical impact. It improves brain and immune system function and cleanses the body. Shallow, stressed breathing deprives the body of oxygen. Too little oxygen causes irritable bowels, allergies, headaches, abnormal blood sugar, sensitivity to pain, and whole host of other symptoms. How long has it been since you’ve taken a deep breath? We generally breathe shallowly and take our breath and, then in our distracted, frazzled state, the moments of our life, for granted. See how far a little “you” time will go towards your overall restfulness and happiness.

Breath Counting
Not only does breathing meditative and good at calming stress, but it improves brain and immune system function, cleanses the body, and purifies our minds. A simple technique I use in the morning is the 5-5-5-5 method.

Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight, and close your eyes.

  • To begin, inhale slowly on a count of five.
  • Then hold the breath for five seconds.
  • Next, exhale to a count of five,
  • Finally count to five with no breathing at all and nothing in the lungs. Try to do 5-10 minutes of this every day. I do this for about 15 minutes every day and it’s an awesome stress reliever.

Want more simple and easy stress relief tips? Find more here.

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