The art of being relaxed: how to ‘rest and digest’ and avoid stress

Being relaxed is the opposite of being stressed. To be truly relaxed is to be free from tension and anxiety. Tension and anxiety arise from stress, which is unavoidable in today’s demanding world. A part of our body’s primordial instinct to survive, stress can cause physical changes to help you take on problems or threats. When you are stressed you may feel your heart pound, you start breathing quicker, your muscles tense or you start to sweat. The bodily symptoms normally pass, but sometimes the tensions won’t go away. They can affect how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically, and also how you behave. Its not always easy but we need to try and take hold of those symptoms and learn to ‘rest and digest’,  engaging in activities that help alleviate the strains of day-to-day life.

Here are five suggestions for helping you keep positive when things get too much:

Exercise – this may seem like a cliché but it’s proven to be great for your physical and mental wellbeing. There’s nothing like taking out your frustrations, concerns and fears with some cardio, which will in turn release endorphins around your body. If you’re not into the gym, try any physical activity. We are lucky enough to have so many options in the UAE. Everything is available from the pumping spin classes offered at FlyWheel to kite surfing lessons with Dukite.

Breathing – one of the most important things we do, but often completely overlooked as a way to release tension. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Think about the air going in, the natural pause your body makes before you exhale and then the air being released. It is an easy, short, discipline that can be done almost anywhere.

Visualization – close your eyes and imagine you are in your happy place wherever it might be. See it, feel it, smell it. The process of visualizing something does the same for your body as actually being there. Brain studies have shown that our minds do not distinguish between the two.

Play – there is a child in all of us and the process of doing something purposeless that we enjoy is the ultimate pleasure. It might also seem like an unnecessary indulgence in a busy day. But it’s an important part of keeping calm and balanced enabling you to face the challenges life. It can be anything from painting, to watching a movie. For parents this is the easiest way to do something to improve your child’s wellbeing at the same time as supporting your own.

Make a list – finally, getting stressed can be related to being too busy and feeling overwhelmed. By making a list and identifying what you can control and what you can’t, will enable you to prioritize and focus. It will help to stop you ‘sweating the small stuff’ and let go of the things that are beyond your control. Try not to have more than five things on your ‘to do’ list at any one time.

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