Relaxation…without drugs or alcohol.
When I was growing up in my teenage and student year’s people would relax by having a few drinks or taking drugs of some sort, prescribed by the GP, legal and illegal.
I want to differentiate between natural relaxation and chemical induced relaxation.
Most evenings people have a routine which they go through to relax, sometimes it’s a simple thing like a nice hot bath, sometimes it takes something a little stronger.
To relax and unwind, people use everything from a cup of tea, a cigarette, beer, wine, spirits, right through to Valium, and prescription medication, weed and other illegal drugs.
I have been guilty of using some of these myself to relax and get off to sleep.
My gran actually gave me a sleeping tablet once! Great night’s sleep but I was like a zombie the next morning.
BUT all these drugs (legal or illegal) leave a mark, damaging your body, and are not a sustainable way to relax.
I’m sure a few of you out there have actually forgotten what it feels like to be really naturally relaxed.
For most people it may have been their last holiday or maybe when you have had time off.
The key to all of this is of course time. You have to take it or make it or suffer the consequences.
If you think you don’t have time, check out last week’s article – Workaholic or Peak Performer? It will give you some ideas of how to get time on your side.
When you learn to relax properly and switch off, you will hopefully find yourself being a bit happier and have more energy.
The purpose of my blog articles are firstly to raise awareness and educate the followers, and then to give you the opportunity to take action (if you are ready).
If you have been checking in every week and taking even little bits of my advice on board, then I’m fairly confident that you are healthier now than when you started. (I always like to know if you have had any significant results from reading my posts, so don’t be shy drop me a line, it gives me a nice boost to hear your stories).
So this week I am going to talk to you about relaxation.
This is important but so often neglected.
Answer honestly, how much time do you allow yourselves each day to unwind and relax?
In case you missed last week’s post, I began taking afternoon naps on the days where I needed it, I got to bed earlier and I started watching less TV and spending less time in front of the computer. Just by making those simple 4 changes I freed up some more time in my day and dramatically improved my energy levels and ultimately my overall health, by relaxing more.
I still do as much work as the old me but I just feel so much better doing it because I have allowed time in my busy schedule to relax.
It is so important and it makes such a difference.
On the whole we are all too busy these days.
It’s not just work, it’s family, allowing time for friends, training, social commitments and much much more which have meant we neglect our ‘me’ time.
So to give you a bit of help I have come up with 7 easy tips to help you relax.
7 Relaxation Tips
1. Take up yoga – Yoga is great, I have recently started myself. There is a reason why yoga classes at the gym are so busy. It is one of the oldest relaxation techniques around, dating back years and years! Yoga combines deep breathing, movements, imagery and more to completely relax your body and more importantly your mind. Give it a go, find your local class or look on the internet for some yoga techniques you can try at home. I do it to help lower back stiffness.
2. Boost your magnesium levels – Magnesium is sometimes labelled ‘nature’s valium’! It’s a natural tranquiliser. Magnesium is great for reducing stress levels and allowing you to relax. Studies have linked regular magnesium intake to helping blood pressure, migraines, insomnia and depression!
Along with zinc, magnesium is the most frequent mineral deficiency found in the UK population.
Symptoms for magnesium deficiency include tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite, arrhythmia, anaemia, cramps, mood swings, irritability, lethargy and depression.
You can either supplement with magnesium or get it from your foods. Great food sources of magnesium come from nuts. Brazil nuts, almonds, cashew and pine nuts are great sources. Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds also all contain high levels of magnesium. When I feel like I need to relax I supplement with Magnesium Relax 60 minutes before bed, and I have found it really effective.
?Did you Know? Restless leg or eyebrow twitching can sometimes be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.
It may sound crazy to some but craving chocolate can be a sign of magnesium deficiency, as chocolate is a source of magnesium.
Please don’t take that as a recommendation to eat chocolate, take it as a recommendation to eat more magnesium containing foods so you don’t crave chocolate. 😉
3. Laugh More – When is the last time you had a good old laugh? Are your husband’s jokes getting a bit old? 😉 Seeing the funny side of things is great in stressful situations and can help you relax and cope better. There are even laughter classes you can do these days, no joke ;-)!
A little story. There was a research study done about longevity and life span of people. The researchers looked at thousands of American high school year book photos from the early 1900’s. They catergorised these 16 years olds students photos into three categories – no smile – a gentle smile – and a beaming smile.
The researchers then followed up on these people to see what date they had died. The research showed that the people who had no smile died first and the students with the beaming smiles lived longest, on average 10 years longer.
I have a personal story I want to share also. Previously I have been consumed with my work, life became very serious for one reason or another and a few years ago, I remember I was in my mums and dads house, with all my family, and we were talking and then I started laughing at something, and my sister said to me “Wow Rich, that’s the first time I have seen you laugh in ages”. Initially I was a bit upset by what she said as I see myself as someone who is always a good laugh.
When I thought about it I realised she was right and I was taking life far too seriously, and I hadn’t laughed properly in ages.
Have you lost your sense of humour? Do you take life too seriously like I did?
Try one of the many comedy clubs or nights now on offer in most towns.
One night, relax, have a sit down and watch a comedy film or go the cinema to see something funny. I like Michael McIntyre and Kevin Bridges they crack me up. No one is too busy to have a laugh!
4. Meditation & Deep Breathing Exercises – Deep breathing increases the lungs capacity to deliver oxygen to your blood; which creates a relaxing effect. If you are short on time, one of the quickest ways to relax is to take a few deep breaths. This helps to wake up the brain, relax the muscles and give your mind a time out.
Meditation is a more advanced method of deep breathing.
I try to meditate every day for at least 10 minutes.
I will give you some basics about Meditation. The purpose of meditation is to switch off and think of nothing.
You are meant to be in “The Gap”.
The gap as it is referred to, usually appears momentarily between each of your thoughts, it’s a tiny moment where your mind is empty of a thought. Meditation aims to increase the length of time you are in The Gap and allows you to empty your mind for a given period of time.
As I understand it your mind has three stages:
The Chaotic Mind – Where you are mostly, it’s the everyday state of mind for the majority of us, jumping from one thought to another, and if something pops into your head it leads you on another tangent. Bouncing around all day long – total chaos!
The Concentrated Mind – This is when you are reading or doing a task and you thoughts are more concentrated on one thing. This has a calming effect, things like a crossword, sudoku, or reading a nice book can induce this calm state of mind.
The Meditated Mind – This is the ultimate stage of mental relaxation. When you have concentrated for long enough on something (like your breathing), that you actually “drift off ” and enter a meditative state where your mind is empty and you are thinking about nothing. This is called being in the gap. When you meditate you progress thorough these three stages and ultimately place your brain in a state similar to sleep.
The benefits of this is that your release certain hormones which allow you to completely relax and boost your health and mental focus.
It may take a bit of practice and feel strange at first but it’s worth sticking it out.
Research shows that a meditators brain is far stronger and more active than someone who does not.
Research shows meditation has a protective effect from mental illness by increasing signalling connections in the brain. Mediation increases grey matter in the brain (which is a good thing!). Meditation stimulates areas of the brain not stimulated by non meditators.
It does this by increasing the blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain.
5. Treat Yourself to a Massage or Spa Day – Being a masseur for over 15 years I don’t really see massage as a treat like some people do, more of an essential in my opinion. I have a monthly massage myself to help work all the tension and toxins from my muscles and help me relax mentally and physically, it also boosts my performance in the gym by up to 20%. I also use the sauna three times a week, I also find this very relaxing.
Book a deep tissue sports massage or go a step further and book a full spa day with a friend. This probably applies more to the women (only because the men won’t admit they want a spa day!). If you are a “desk jockey” this is even more important as your job messes up you back muscles and causes a load of tension. Some forward thinking employers book me or one of my team of masseurs to go into their workplace and give everyone a neck and shoulder massage, this goes down a treat with the staff and is great for morale.
6. Spend more time outdoors – Being outdoors especially in the weather we are having at the moment is very therapeutic. You don’t want to be cooped up inside during the summer, there are so many beautiful places out there so get out and explore. A nice walk with the other half down the beach, walk the dog down the park or even playing football with the children in the garden. Being outdoors is a great way to relax and feel good.
For even better levels of relaxation, take your shoes and socks off while you walk or play and “earth” yourself. We store up lots of electrical charge from the environment, especially if you work at a computer. Earthing is a new area, but initial research is very exciting and has shown big reductions in Electro Magnestic Radiation (EMR) stored in our bodies.
Check out this site for more info.
7. Drink less coffee – I have said it before and I will say it again. You can’t relax if you are high on the psychoactive drug which is coffee.
People are too reliant on their caffeine fix to get them through the morning and with many people, the day! Coffee, stress and anxiety are very closely linked so you need to cut as much coffee as you can out to help you relax.
Try drinking hot water and lemon instead and see how you get on.
Being relaxed will improve your business as well as your home life. Free up time and spend this with your loved ones or have some time to yourself
You work so hard and it’s time that you started taking a bit more time for yourself to allow you to relax. If we don’t then it’s eventually something is going to go pop and it will have a negative impact on your health and maybe your work or business too.
Doing less but getting more is the way to go, who doesn’t want that!
Let me know your thoughts below the article, really, I want to know what chills you out the most and how do you unwind?
Thanks for reading,
PS – I didn’t mention it yet, but remember, SEX is great for relaxing! Enough said! 😉