How Relaxation Affects Your Body
The Relaxation Response
We are bombarded with messages all the time telling us that we need to relax – but at the same time, it seems as if we are also bombarded with reasons not to! The truth is that if you take care of your body and mind, it pays dividends and can help you to deal with some of the unpleasant things in life that cause stress to us in the first place. The first thing to tackle is getting your share of relaxation. Here’s why.
Your Body Needs to Rest
Getting enough sleep and good quality sleep is essential for functioning optimally. Whether you’re working, learning, or just living, sleep is the key. Sleep is crucial for restoring your body’s energy, repairing muscles, and promoting a good appetite. The more time you spend in the REM stage of sleep, the better, as REM (dream) sleep is the most vital. Ideally, you should spend about 25% of the time in this type of sleep (if you have a fitness tracker, the sleep tracking function can be a real eye-opener). Lack of good sleep can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, headaches, and depression. Of course, sleep isn’t the only way to rest; relaxation while you’re awake is significant too. May you have heard of the fight-or-flight response? Well, it has the opposite – the relaxation response. The relaxation response happens naturally when your body no longer thinks it is in any perceived danger and when the autonomic nervous system returns to normal after a stressful situation. The relaxation response is like an off switch, where the body moves from a stressed state (physiological arousal) to one of calm. You can bring this response deliberately by using techniques designed to relax both body and mind. Some of the most effective ways to do this include:
- Breathing Exercises
- Massage therapy
- Spa Treatments
How to Relax
Making time to unwind and enjoy life is essential – and often undervalued. Relaxation has many physical benefits; it can decrease your blood pressure, help to relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems. Did you know that a good belly laugh is one amazingly effective way to de-stress, too? Get funny films out. A big laugh can help your heart and lung health and promote muscle relaxation. We all know that a good giggle can help our mental health, as well as flooding our body with feel-good chemicals helps reduce anxiety. If you aren’t getting enough time to relax, you may feel tense and stressed out. Next time you think the fight-or-flight feelings are getting on top of you, or you notice tell-tale effects of stress like breakouts or constant headaches, stop it in its track with a massage session, yoga class, or some deep breathing exercises and feel that relaxation kick back in.
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