The Gift of Relaxation

Mature man (Hispanic/Native American, 50s) sitting in adirondack chair, laughing.
Mature man (Hispanic/Native American, 50s) sitting in adirondack chair, laughing.

While the holidays are a fun time of year, to-do lists seem to get longer and stress levels sometimes grow bigger. So during all the hustle and bustle this year, we should also make time for some relaxation.

Cultivating relaxation techniques into your daily routine is a great way to lower stress—which left unchecked can lead to heart or other health concerns. Here are some relaxation techniques that will help you on your way to incorporating more relaxation in your life.

  • Yoga – The first time I did yoga I felt ridiculous, but after I finished that first class I did feel more relaxed and challenged to get better at it. So take a class or find a beginner’s yoga video and relax in the comfort of your own home!
  • Meditation – Setting aside 20 minutes a day to meditation will not only help you relax, but provide numerous other health benefits as well. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s an article to help! http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-how-to-do-it/
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – In this relaxation method, you slowly tense and then relax your muscles progressively working through all the muscle groups in your body. This helps you become more aware of what tension verses relaxation feels like to your body. Start in your feet and work your way up to your head or vice versa, but you’ll want to tense your muscles for about 5 seconds and then relax them for 30 seconds and repeat.
  • Deep Breathing – Schedules are busy during the holidays, so if you don’t have much time, set aside 5 minutes to practice some deep breathing. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Focus on the Positive – Negativity helps no one and definitely no one trying to practice relaxation. Start keeping track of all the things in your life you’re thankful for to help your mind focus on the positive. Keep a journal next to your bed and it can become part of your nightly routine!
  • Laugh as Much as Possible – Laughter is actually great for you because it lowers the stress hormones in your body and increases the amount of endorphins! It’s the holidays, so don’t forget to have fun and laugh!
  • Give Yourself Time to Unwind – At the end of a long day at work or a stressful shopping trip, place a warm heat wrap around your neck and just take 10 minutes to decompress. Close your eyes or catch up on a chapter of that book you’ve been trying to finish for the last three months.

This season of year is busy. I know you may feel like you don’t have time to add one more thing to your schedule, but even if you can only set aside 5 – 10 minutes each day, find a relaxation technique that works for you and make it a priority. Give yourself the gift of a more relaxing holiday season this year!