With the rushed busyness of our hectic lifestyle, we often underestimate the power of relaxation. Most of us have a massive to-do list each day, and we feel we can’t afford to slow our pace or we’ll quickly fall behind. However, we fail to acknowledge the ways that relaxation can increase our stamina, clear our thoughts, and allow us to get much more accomplished with less effort.
The other day, I put this theory to the test, and decided to spend an afternoon and evening doing the unthinkable: nothing. I was feeling stressed and run down by a crazy schedule, and even though I had a ton of stuff that needed to be done, I decided to just stop, put everything aside and do…nothing!
The results were wonderful. Instantly, I felt my stress drain away, I felt happier and I slept soundly that night. The next morning, I found that my energy and motivation had been restored, and the rest of the week was much more productive than the previous few days had been.
Why is relaxation so good for us?
1) Restores our energy.
We often forget that we have a limited amount of energy to expend, and we push ourselves beyond that threshold daily. However, in order to keep generating more energy, we need to let our bodies rest. Think of energy like the fuel you put into your vehicle. If you don’t keep refilling the tank, the car will eventually stop. Our bodies are the same way.
Just by making a point to sit and do nothing periodically and get enough sleep each night, we allow our batteries to recharge and we generate more energy we can then devote to our work and recreational activities.
2) Repairs our bodies.
Our bodies are designed to repair themselves from the daily wear and tear we impose on them, and this most often happens while we rest. Most of us tend to skimp on our sleep time and push ourselves beyond our physical limits every day, which prevents us from achieving optimal health and wellness. If we are constantly on the move and not getting enough sleep, we are using most of the energy we have to keep going. That means our bodies cannot devote enough energy to healing and we suffer from fatigue or illness.
By granting ourselves time to rest, we are allowing our bodies the opportunity to direct our energy to healing and restoration.
Another important consideration is to eat lightly before resting, because digestion of heavy meals requires a lot of energy too. By eating small, light meals of nutritious food, we not only give our bodies a break from the intense work of digestion (which leaves more energy for healing and repair work), we also provide more energy in the form of quality fuel, which can also be used to create better health.
3) Calms our thoughts and improves focus.
Just as we tend to push our bodies past their limits, our minds are constantly on the move too. Ask anyone who has an intellectually demanding job – heavy thinking can be just as draining as physical exertion. Excessive worry can also wear us down, as can constant mental chatter or any kind of mental strain. When we set aside time to relax, we should also focus on quieting our thoughts and letting our minds rest. This can often be more restorative than the physical aspects of relaxation. Another great effect is that our calm mental state improves concentration and allows us to focus better.
4) Lifts our mood.
Relaxation can also help us to feel happier. Whether we let our thoughts drift aimlessly, read a good book, or listen to soothing music, just the act of resting relieves stress and allows us to feel content. We can even take a more proactive role in improving our mood during periods of rest and enhance the effect.
Rather than letting our thoughts drift aimlessly, we can choose to think about things that make us feel happy, like our loved ones, friends, or pets. We can call up warm memories of good times, or imagine a beautiful sunset. Remember that our thoughts usually determine our mood. If we think happy thoughts, we feel happy.
5) Stimulates our creativity.
Creativity is one of those things that gets stronger the more we focus on it, but stress and busyness disconnect us from the creative potential within us. When we finally stop rushing and set aside our worries, we create a harmonious forum for our creativity to flourish.
This happens for a few reasons: First, we are not so distracted by external stimulus and can hear ourselves think again. We’re more open to creative insights. Secondly, inactivity allows us to feel more connected with our inner selves, which is the source of our creative energy. And finally, creativity is a form of ENERGY, which we naturally have more of when we rest and relax.
Though it may seem counterproductive to set aside time to relax in the midst of a busy schedule, doing so can actually help us to increase our productivity, accomplish more in less time, and feel happier overall. Sounds good to me!
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