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Learning How To Rest & Relax for Improved Health & Wellbeing

Added September 30, 2016, Under: Health, Top 10

In the picture a beach at sunset with the words on the sand "Just breathe".

Ensuring we get sufficient sleep, and of good quality too, has been the subject of many articles and blogs in recent times.

But now, in this crazy fast-paced world we live in, the emphasis is being placed on the importance of learning how to rest and relax.

But how we rest or relax, and what method suits us best, can vary so much from person to person.

R&R is the military slang for rest and relaxation – and the term used for the free time of a soldier. But it is not only soldiers and others in the military who need time for rest and relaxation.  We need it too.

Why we need time to rest and relax

Many people will still confuse rest with sleep and perhaps during sleep is the only time some will actually rest and relax.  But it does not have to be like that.  Making time to unwind and enjoy life is an important part of maintaining good health and there are many ways in which to accomplish this.

Top 10 tips to help us rest and relax

1.  Deep relaxation, like meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieves stress and anxiety but is also known to improve mood.  Relaxing can also decrease blood pressure, relieve pain and improve the immune and cardiovascular systems.

2.  Making the effort to find enjoyment in what you “see and do” is another way to relax.  For example, laughing decreases the feeling of pain, strengthens heart and lungs, promotes muscle relaxation and can reduce anxiety. Laughter is always the best medicine – and a good laugh can increase blood flow and boost immunity.

3.  It takes just a minute to place a drop of  lavender or tea tree essential oil into the palm of your hand and inhale.  Those soothing scents can stimulate smell receptors in our noses to help eliminate stress and anxiety because those receptors connect to that part of our brain that regulates emotions.

4.  Petting your pet whether it be a dog, cat or something else (for approximately 15 minutes at a time) can release the body’s feel-good hormones – known as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin – to lower the stress hormone, cortisol.  Pets can also boost self-esteem and even ease the sting of social rejection.

5.  The human touch is equally important because it releases serotonin while reducing blood pressure and the heart rate to help you relax. Suggestions include a massage or a hug!

6.  Take 5 deep breaths and, as you do, notice the natural pause between inhaling and exhaling as well as between the next exhale and the next inhale.  Our bodies have a built-in break – and a natural relaxing mechanism.

7.  Release the tension in your jaw by opening the mouth wide for roughly half a minute while breathing naturally through the nose before allowing the mouth to close again gently.

8.  Take a bathroom break.  This can be just for a few minutes during a stressful time at work or it can be longer when you actually relax in a warm bath at home.  The former is when you close your eyes, breathe in for a count of 3, breathe out for a count of 3 and then repeat 3 or 4 times before breathing normally again for several minutes and facing the world again feeling relaxed and energized once more.

9.  Ever heard of progressive relaxation?  This involves tensing the muscles in your body, one body part at a time – to achieve a state of calm.  You squeeze, you release and then you repeat.  You can also use this method if you have trouble falling asleep at night through anxiety or suffer from insomnia.

10. Here is something different!  Try brushing your hair – especially if it is not too short.  Such repetitive motions help the body to relax – so try that 100 strokes at a time as one suggestion for rest and relaxation.

Remember that rest and relaxing help to prevent tension and stress which, if not kept in check, can lead to a host of unwanted health issues such as chest pain, headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, changes in sexual desire and much more.

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