It’s no secret, relaxing is good for you. But knowing how to relax is a whole different concept. I used to think that I needed a cup of tea and calm music to relax at home. When I heard the word relax, I’d see my favorite camping spot near the river. I never noticed how much I misunderstood the concept. To me, there was only one way to relax, and it was a drawn out ritual. This mindset actually told me that relaxing was a hard thing to do because the conditions had to be just right. Luckily over the years, I have learned a few things along the way that I would like to pass on to you. Personally, I need facts before I can really get behind concepts. So, here are a few beneficial things to know about relaxing.
- Reduce stress hormones
- Slow your heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Slow breathing
- Increase blood flow to major muscles
- Reduce muscle tension, which can help alleviate aches and pains
- Improve concentration and mood
- Lower fatigue
- Reduce anger and frustration
- Boost confidence
The great news is that anyone can learn to relax with very easy and simple techniques. You also only need a few minutes in your day to relax, but the effects are long lasting. Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s easy to say that it only takes a few minutes to relax and count your breath, but that you simply don’t have enough hours in the day. You don’t have time to relax. So from one very busy person to another, I will share where I have found the moments already present in my day, as well as quick techniques I use to relax when cultivating these moments.
Right after I park my car
That’s right. I find that it is important for me to get to work at least ten to fifteen minutes
early so I don’t feel rushed. I close my eyes and count backwards from 20 down to 1. While I do this, I imagine myself writing the numbers on in the sand, and erasing them before writing the next number. Once I count from 20 down to 1, I just hang out in my mind and let it drift from thought to thought. But, if I start thinking about the things I need to do, or things that I don’t find calming, I make a mental note and put it on a shelf in my mind so I can get it later. After a few minutes, I open my eyes, show up to work early and am unfazed by the stresses life has to offer. This whole process takes anywhere from three to five minutes. If you are worried about getting too comfortable, you can either make a voice recording with your mobile device of this process or download a meditation timer. My favorite meditation timer is Insight Timer.
I pay attention to my shoulders
They tell me very fast when I get stressed or uncomfortable. When I notice that my shoulders are not relaxed, it tells me to pay attention to why they are not relaxed in the first place. Once I identify that, I make sure I take deeper breaths and slow my breathing down. I imagine that my slow deep breaths relax my shoulders. I focus on the shoulders and notice how good it feels to have them not be tense. Once they relax I just enjoy a few deep breaths and go along with my business. The more you try this, the easier it becomes do while you are talking to people. They may not notice what you are doing, but if you watch them, they visibly relax too. You can do this for any muscle tension as well. Just breathe into the tension and will it away.
I remember a really, really good memory
For me, it’s usually a really funny, relaxed, or loving memory. Whatever it may be, I just recall everything about that really, really good memory. I close my eyes and see it as if it was happening right in front of me for the first time. I hear the sounds and feel the good feelings in my body. At this point, I’m already feeling really good. But it gets so much better. Once I have locked on to my happy thought, I make the image bigger and brighter. Colors more vivid. The wonderful feelings more intense. I start to notice where the feelings are located in my body. For me, it’s a warm feeling in the center of my chest. It also spins in a certain direction. So I make the warm spinning feeling spin faster and faster and notice that good feeling just intensifies. By this time, I have a huge smile on my face, I’m feeling super happy, and super relaxed. This whole process only takes a minute or two. The feeling stays with me for a very long time throughout my day.
I’m all about finding the path of least resistance in my life. Finding quick shortcuts to feeling calm and relaxed has been so beneficial and exciting for me. When you do these exercises a few times and find a good routine you begin to notice how much time in the day was devoted to feeling stressed out for no good reason. When you really think about it, it’s easy to see that we all have the power to transform a bad day into a good one with little effort. To me, it makes the art of feeling good so much less intimidating because it means I don’t have to meditate on a mountaintop, or seek out a Zen master. But both will tell you exactly this, you already have everything you need to be happy.