By: Julia Gagulska
To say the least, life can be stressful. We are all working hard at something whether that be full-time school, work, raising a family, or any other responsibility that demands attention. Whatever that something may be to you, utter focus and prolonged worry can become overwhelming, and sometimes discouraging. Speaking from personal experience, I often feel a phenomenon known as burnout, which is “exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress,” after a long, grueling day of constant schoolwork. Burnout can be “emotional, physical, or mental exhaustion,” and each can negatively affect your mental state and immune system (Smith et al, 2020).
Although stress, at times, can be inevitable, there are ways to stop and prevent burnout from directing your mental and physical health down a negative path. To manage and protect your health from stress, relaxation routines and techniques will allow your body periodical rest and can result in overall happiness. Relaxation involves an overall sense of calmness through which the management of stress and anxiety is possible (Healthdirect, 2019). By regularly inducing a relaxed state within your body, many mental and physical health benefits will ensue. Reduced stress, restored energy, and a more positive self-view are all mental health benefits that result from allowing your body to regenerate on a regular basis (Healthy You Blog, 2018). Physical health benefits resulting from relaxation include reduced fatigue and a lowered heart rate (Healthdirect, 2019), which ultimately deters cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure (Harvard Health Publishing, 2008).
From personal experience, I find the best way to incorporate relaxation techniques into my daily schedule is by having a relaxation routine. Similar to implementing fitness and meals into your everyday life, integrating a relaxation period into your daily routine is crucial to ensure that you get your daily dose of calm! Having a routine can not only encourage consistency, but it can also act as something to look forward to in times where the weight of stress and worry seems unbearable. Overall, there are a plethora of benefits to relaxation, especially integrated into everyday routines. Here are some general guidelines that can help create a relaxation routine that best suits your schedule and needs!
- Find a time in your day that works for you.
Everyone has varying responsibilities, commitments, and schedules that can affect the time you may have to relax. Personally, I find that integrating relaxation into my nightly routine works best for me, but your available time may be mornings, afternoons, evenings, or shorter periods scattered throughout the day. No matter the time, it is most important to plan and integrate relaxation into your day as time permits.
- Clear your mind.
There are many relaxation techniques that can facilitate a clear mind such as meditation and visualization. The main goal is to momentarily let go of all your stressors and worries to induce a relaxed state. Remember, this routine is meant to best suit you, so however you find clearing your mind easiest (whether that be meditation, placing yourself in a happy place, etc.) will be the most beneficial!
- Engage in an activity you enjoy
While a momentary, complete release of stress and worry is important to relaxation, extensive periods in which nothing clouds your mind can be slightly impractical. After clearing your mind for as long as you want or can, relaxation can continue in the form of engaging in an activity that is unrelated to your stressors. In a few words, it is time to unwind. For me, this part of the routine involves skincare and a hot cup of tea, but for you, it may include reading a book, watching TV, working on a craft, or any other activity associated with content.
Harvard Health Publishing. (2008). Slower heart rate may translate into longer life, reports the Harvard Heart Letter. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/slower-heart-rate-may-translate-into-longer-life
Healthdirect. (2019). Relaxation and mental health. Retrieved from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/relaxation
Healthy You Blog. (2018). Benefits of Relaxation. Northshore University Health System. Retrieved from https://www.northshore.org/healthy-you/benefits-of-relaxation/
Smith, M., Segal, J., & Robinson, L. (2020). Burnout Prevention and Treatment. Help guide. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm