How to Relax Your Body and Mind Without Feeling Guilty
I admit I was never really very good at relaxing. I saw it as a waste of my precious time, and you know, there is always so much to do. Rest just doesn't seem important when you are so busy. However, as the saying goes, if you don't pick a time to relax, your body will do so for you. And it was the hard way that I learned how important relaxation is. But you don't have to go through this. There are ways you can help relax your body and mind without feeling guilty.
Why does guilt overwhelm us when it comes to relaxing? It cannot be because we don't think we deserve it, can it? But how many times did you pin a rest day into your calendar, yet as soon as you woke up you immediately thought of all the chores awaiting you? Relaxing just doesn't seem to come naturally to us. How can we actually rest in this hectic life? Is there actually time for rest in this often chaotic, fast-moving world?
Simply put there often isn't time to just take a break, however needed it may be. The demands of modern life mean we feel guilty as soon as we sit down and put our feet up. Our minds never stop, and we can think of a million things that need to be done. Relaxing seems a luxury we simply can't afford. And it isn't just this, being busy seems to be a trend, a form of status. It gives us a feeling of importance. As if the world couldn't exist without us. Jonathan Gershung, the time use expert, claims that being busy has nowadays become a measure of prestige.
It's interesting that we see busyness as a measure of prestige, a privileged status, as I always thought it was supposed to be that holidays were a luxury. So I wonder what has changed? Why can't we just simply relax and take some time off without feeling guilty? After all, it's even mentioned in the Bible that all creatures must rest. God himself rested on the seventh day once he had finished his work.
It sounds very logical. It makes sense to rest after we finish work. And rest is productive despite what we might think. We need to rest our brain as well as our body though. Studies show that our brain alone uses energy to perform work. So not resting our brain will leave us still mentally exhausted. This can then hurt our concentration and stress levels. Therefore, just as our body needs rest to recover and prevent injury, so does our mind.
During my recovery, I learned the importance of listening to my body and mind and giving them what they need. I learned how essential rest is for my health. Although it was sometimes tricky to get a good night's sleep whilst I was in the hospital, I tried to use any opportunity. I was aware that sleep helps our body remove toxins that our brain builds up while we are awake. That's why sleeping whilst recovering is essential for both, body and mind. It is essential for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Sleep is the only time when our mind is blank and our heart is at rest.
Whilst sleep is essential for our health, there are other simple and quick techniques that can help you relax after a long busy day or even in the middle of it.
Four Prime Relaxation Techniques
These four techniques are the best that I have found for helping me relax both body and mind. I can guarantee you they will be of great benefit to you as well. Just give them a go.
1. Focused breathing
I learned this breathing technique whilst I was in hospital after my accident. It is a simple yet effective technique that you can do anytime. You only need to close your eyes and place your right hand on the chest and left on your stomach. Then slowly breathe in and out whilst noticing your hand moving slightly with each breath. Repeating a mantra, such as 'calm' or 'relax' on the out-breath, can help you focus on your breathing.
Meditation is a great way to switch off and unwind. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe naturally whilst paying attention to your body as it moves with each breath. If you feel like your mind starts to wander, then bring your attention gently back to your breathing to help regain focus.
The good thing about praying is that you can do it anywhere and anytime. You can start your day with a prayer and thank God at the end of your day. You don't need to keep to a specific time, and you can do it as many times a day as you want. Your prayer can be long or short, using the Bible or not, and out loud or silent - God can still hear you, and He is everywhere. I witnessed many times the power of prayer. And as I engage in a deep conversation with God, I find that I can obtain better focus.
4. Me time
My therapist advised me to do at least one thing per day that I enjoy. I took her advice, and it has helped me feel relaxed. It can be an active break outdoors such as exercising, walking, or gardening. Alternatively, it could be something less energetic such as taking a nap, listening to music, reading a book, or treating yourself to a spa day or massage. The list is endless, and it is all fine as long as it helps you relax and restores you. Whatever will make you feel rested and refreshed will help you to be more productive afterward.
These four techniques are really effective, and you can easily practice them from the comfort of your own home whenever you need to recharge your batteries and de-stress. They have become an essential part of my life, and I'm sure I will stick with them even after my recovery is complete. I make sure I find at least a few minutes each to relax without feeling guilty.
So make yourself comfortable, close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax. I can guarantee you that these few minutes of rest will help you to get through your busy day.
Katy Parker is a well-being writer, blogger, and mental health advocate living in England (UK). She has worked hard to overcome her trauma, and she writes about her experiences to help others in similar situations. She continues to share her journey on her Journeyofsmiley blog. Katy is also the founder of PTSD: My Story Project, a safe place for trauma survivors to share their stories to inspire others and raise awareness.