As I said in the first part of this series, our society does not value relaxation: we are not taught how to relax.
I used to think that I was an ‘island’ – that I was not affected by other people’s moods and energy. Now I see how hard it is to really remain centered and free from those influences…
You can try this out for yourself – look in the mirror and smile at yourself. There is a biological reaction to seeing a smile! Even if it’s your own forced smile in the mirror, it instantly makes you feel better. Similarly when we see / are around people that are stressed… well, it is also contagious.
In the first article (Relaxation 1 – What is relaxation) I talked about the Sympathetic Nervous System, and how it controls our ‘stress response’ – specifically, the biological response which we have to environmental stress. I mentioned how our body reacts: releasing hormones like adrenalin, speeding up the heart rate, taking blood away from the internal organs and providing more blood to the peripheral body, i.e – muscles. All of this is very helpful if you’re suddenly confronted with a rabid animal, or someone attacks you. But it’s not how you want to live your life 24 hours a day.
Many, many people are living with an accumulation of stress: with raised heart rate; excess adrenalin; not enough blood supply to the internal organs; and many other biological stress responses – 24 hours a day!
The body can handle only a certain amount of time in this condition: after that it starts to use up it’s reserve supplies of energy. After that, you are literally running on empty.
This causes 3 serious problems:
- It weakens the immune system.
- It uses up a lot of energy, making you tired and emotional.
- It affects the mental processes, making concentration, and even normal thought processes very difficult.
In short, accumulated stress is the number one cause of poor health, disease, depression, and many of the other problems which our society faces today.
That’s why I’m stressing the importance of relaxation: It is not a ‘luxury’. It’s essential. It’s the most fundamental, key aspect of our daily lives.
If you are not spending at least 10 minutes a day in deep relaxation, you are sabotaging your chances of success in all areas of life: work, health, and relationship.
In the next article in this series on relaxation, I am going to give you more practical advice on how to incorporate relaxation into your daily life.
Do you consciously relax every day? Do you have time? Is accumulated stress something you are already aware of, or had you not thought of it like that before? Post a comment and let me know your thoughts…