By Karen Langston CN
In the infinite wisdom of the body, we find that there are two distinct pathways that respond to the inner and outer world: One, that is meant for protection and getting our body ready to respond to a perceived danger. The other, is meant to help the body recuperate and repair the daily wear and tear and keep it in an optimal state. The first is called the stress response, fueling the body’s active and alert state. The second is the relaxation response, calming everything so balance can be created again.
Ideally there should be a balance in these two states of the body, spending time in activity and rest. But, in our Western culture we are most used to being active, using our stress response for both work and play. This creates an imbalance where we can trigger many unwanted consequences that affect our mind and body, ranging from a decreased quality of life to serious health issues.
Here are some of the benefits of stopping and smelling the roses, of learning how to find more balance even though we are having fun being so active:
1. It feels good! One of the main reasons to stop and relax is because it feels so good to do so. At first, sitting down and taking it easy might seem awkward, but we seem to get the hang of it pretty quickly. Relaxing and taking it easy, especially once we get the hang of it, releases endorphins and other feel good chemicals in the body.
2. It’s good for you! Time spent in relaxation is time spent replenishing the body. When the body is relaxed, it focuses on digesting, eliminating, repairing and replacing what
3. It increases your creativity! When you relax and calm your mind, it’s more likely to have newer, fresher thoughts and points of view connected to a specific situation. When we are stressed and do not take the time to rest, we can be recycling the same old thoughts and patterns of thinking over and over again.
4. It keeps you effective! Studies show that a combination of stress and relaxation are important to help us stay sharp and achieve our goals. At first, stress alone helps us stay focused and alert on the task at hand. But as stress increases, our ability to be effective decreases, as there is too much going on internally for the body to handle and hinders our ability to connect with the external activities.
5. It makes you more resilient! The more you relax the more resources you have at your disposal to face difficult life events and deal with them effectively. Cultivating a calm state allows your body to be more hardy and resilient in the face of difficulties, allowing you to respond in the way you choose to, versus reacting in the way the circumstances demand.
6. It’s associated with better health! The research is pretty conclusive and it shows that when we spend time relaxing, this has a very beneficial impact on our mental and physical health. This is a way of resetting everything within us back to a more optimal state.
7. It’s connected with increased happiness! The more we relax, the easier it is for the feel good chemicals in our body to work at optimal levels. Things that would upset us in a high stress state and more easily managed and dealt with, leaving us with an overall feeling of satisfaction.
So, make a commitment to practice something that soothes and calms you every day, like deep belly breathing, soft and gentle Yoga, looking out into nature of anything else that allows you to be still and open.