Go away – I’m busy relaxing!

Do you find it almost impossible to relax because you feel guilty when you’re not busy?  We live under constant pressure to be productive – doing something every moment of the day; maximising every second.  The increase of mobile phones means we have messages coming at us 24/7 – there is never a quiet moment!  And when there is we seem to worry – is the phone working?  No one wants me!

The stress that we are continually putting ourselves under will eventually cause a problem.  According to statistics from the Government’s Health and Safety Executive 85% of serious illnesses are caused by stress.  It costs our country £7 billion per year in lost work days and NHS services.

We all know the signs – heart rate goes up, sweaty palms, breathing increases and so on.  This is due to hormonal changes within our bodies described as the ‘fight or flight’ response.  The body reacts by instinctively preparing to run away or face down the problem.  Internally this means that our oxygen and blood supply are totally diverted to get the muscles ready to run or fight.  Our pupils also enlarge to take in as much information as possible and other unnecessary bodily activities shut down – digestion, metabolism, sex drive.

Does this ring any bells with you?

When we take time out to relax all the functions described above reverse.  Our heart rate reduces, the oxygen in our blood is regulated, the muscles relax, and digestion, metabolism and sex drive are all improved.

Yoga offers a great way to relax and unwind the body and mind.  A typical class will offer 1/3rd of the time doing relaxation practices.  A guided relaxation can take many forms – seated in a chair or laying on the back of the body.  A teacher will use a variety of methods to help you to relax your body and mind.  Visualisations, muscle tense and release, breathing exercises and music are some methods commonly in use.

The benefit of a regular class means that you are prevented from doing your mental ‘to do’ list and have to focus on what is going on in the class.  Giving yourself permission to relax is the most important and difficult thing to do.  But given the benefits, don’t you think it’s your job to get busy relaxing?

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