How do you perceive the relaxation? Can you see a person sitting in a lotus position on the yoga mat and meditating? Or maybe someone lying on the lounger in the sunshine?
Yes, there are some many different levels of rest and recharge our body and mind. Some will opt for passive activity others prefer the action-driven alternative. In general, whatever it takes your mind off the difficulties/ pressures of the situation/problem etc. works the magic.
Why is it so crucial for our overall health?
The shift of our approach from stress caused reactions to relaxation creates the cascade the biochemical changes that occur in our body.
The most popular is the release of endorphins (happiness hormones) and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for reduced blood pressure, improving circulation in your extremities, increasing depths of breaths and improving your lung ventilation.
In the results, we have more oxygen in our blood, and the muscles are more relaxed, and therefore your pain sensation is reduced as well. It is a time when our memory is consolidating, and we think clearer. This part of the nervous system is regularly activated during our sleep and rest to support your body with recovery and repair.
However, when you are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is switching on creating the flight-or-flit response. The key features are: cold hands (as the blood shifting from your extremities to your heart), increased heart rate, shallow breathing and shattered thinking. As you would be facing a great danger, e.g. Siberian tiger presented in the fantastic book on stress management: ‘Why Zebras does not get stomach ulcers?’ by Robert Sapolsky (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Zebras-Dont-Ulcers-Revised/dp/0805073698).
Having known facts as above, I trust you can see the health benefits for everyone entering the relaxation state to support their repair and recharge state. How much more important is it when you are healing from injury or significant incident, e.g. stroke or cancer? We aim for the best possible blood circulation to support the affected area to be supplied with crucial nutrients and help to get the wound healed and return the organ to a full function.
Professionally, when treating my clients I educate them about the ongoing needs to assist their body with recovery from the illness, elevating the negative effect of lengthy hospitalisation and taking proactive steps to restore balance in the body and the mind via relaxation.
When you feel happier, more relaxed, your muscles are more flexible. Therefore they are in a better position to fulfil their function of supporting your body with the optimum quality movement. When you are calmer, you can think clearer. Therefore, your planning and execution of motions are more efficient. You use less energy for movements as they are done more fluently. Overall, you can do more, and you are less tired. I think everyone would wish for that freedom of actions.
Here are some ways to assist with relaxation: various breathing techniques, meditation, engaging in pleasurable hobbies activities, using essential oils and quiet time alone. Anything that helps you to connect with the peace and feeling regenerated afterwards. Further discussion about different forms will be addressed in the following post.