Creating Relaxation

Just what is “Relaxation”?

Here’s my favorite definition of relaxation: Relaxation is a feeling of refreshing tranquility that arises in the absence of fear or stress or responsibility. Relaxation has also been described as the remission from attention and effort; indulgence in recreation, diversion, or amusement. Looking at it another way, relaxation is a well-being state of mind determined by one’s environment, activity, feelings, and thoughts. Ultimately, however, relaxation is more a state of what you are thinking and feeling than what you are doing.

Why is relaxation important?

Relaxation has a significant positive effect on your mental and physical health. Relaxation allows our minds and bodies to recover to our normal background levels of metabolism after elevated stimulation and response. It also encourages our minds and emotions to slow down, de-congest, and re-focus on the pleasures we are experiencing, which in turn nurtures our sense of inner calm and well-being. Without the calming effects of adequate relaxation (or with an overwhelm of stressors and stimulation), we feel illness in our bodies (muscle tension, stomach disorders, headaches, etc.) and minds (fatigue, irritability, loss of concentration, etc.). My holistic coaching combines stress relief with relaxation for lasting results.

How can I tell when I’m not relaxed?

The most common symptoms of inadequate relaxation include back problems, colitis, depression, muscle tension and irritability; excessive anxiety, frustration, pessimism and tiring; and loss of concentration, vitality, humor, libido, sleep and productivity. Take the How Stressed are You? Self Assessment. You can also check in on your level of relaxation by asking your self simply, “Am I happy?” and “Am I having fun?” If you’re not happy or not having fun, then you’re probably not relaxed. Let’s talk.

How can I make more time to relax more?

You can make more time for relaxing by first identifying what your personal values are: How much time and energy do you want to spend doing things you would describe as work? How much do you want to spend with your family and friends doing things that fun (not work) for you? How much do you want to spend on just plain old fun and games? Then, how can you re-organize your life so that your time and energy is allotted in the proportions you need to achieve your values while reducing stress? Finally, what do you want to be doing with your mind and body when you are relaxing? My coaching is designed to mesh time management challenges into a contemporary relaxation action plan for my client partners.

What can I do that’s relaxing?

I love this question because the answer(s) are all over the place, such as: breathing exercises, laughter, games, walking, prayer, massage, music, writing, sex, swimming, birding, meditation, art, travel, cooking, theater, crafts, reading, dancing…you get the idea. Surprisingly, even with all these and other choices available to us, a remarkable number of people are afflicted with attitudes and emotions that prevent them from meaningfully connecting to these and other relaxation sources. You can learn to easily slip any of these relaxation sources into the vacant mental space created by the dissolution of one or more of your stresses. That’s true holistic stress relief progress!

Do I have to go on an expensive vacation in order to relax?

No, not at all (particularly if the cost of an expensive vacation will create more financial stress for you!). Remember what I said above: relaxation is more a state of what you are thinking and feeling than what you are doing. You could be thinking wonderful thoughts and feeling very relaxed with a fresh piña colada in hand under a palm tree on the white sand beach at Acapulco. Yet, depending on your frame of mind, you could have the same joyous thoughts and feelings while you’re playing your guitar in a recording session or reclining in a hammock. As a state of mind, relaxation has an inverse relationship with stress and responsibility. Regardless of where you are physically, when you learn to shrink stress and responsibility, you allow for the expansion of guilt-free relaxation and peace of mind.

How can I turn down the jitters and just relax my mind?

Periodically I too have wanted to turn down restless energy in my mind that interrupts my concentration and sleep, so I have a number of mind games and exercises (Quick Stress Tips!) that I apply whenever I want to quiet my seemingly uncontrollable mental activity. I will present these techniques to you in an expanded comprehensive custom program in our coaching sessions.

How can my family and friends help me to relax more?

First, communicate openly and completely: let them know you are working directly on reducing your stress load and increasing your levels of relaxation. Bring them onboard as constructive helpers to facilitate your growth and progress. Ask them to respond to you in the moment when they sense that you are moving off your new path of centeredness. Take all of their comments constructively, not as person attacks or judgments of you. Assuming that they know quite a bit about your personality, ask for their suggestions and resourcefulness. Be open to their suggestions, experiment with new ideas and behaviors, and remain focused on doing things that create happiness for you.

What can I do to relax more at my stressful job?

Very frequently the sources of stress at work seem to originate outside of our selves — with someone else. Their abusive behavior or words, their lack of appreciation, or their arrogance create conflict within us about what is happening and what should be “right”. At the outset you can approach the challenge in two basic ways: direct communications about your feelings and rational suggestions about changes that could make significant improvements (not just for you), or you can “rise above it all” and mentally position yourself so that you are no longer vulnerable to, or victim of, the source of the stress. The stress source may continue, but since you are now transparent to it, it will pass right through you with no effect. Admittedly, this is easier said then done, which is why I work very closely with my work stress relief partners on developing “mindfulness” that allows one to remain upright and intact in the midst of chaos and fear.

Other sources at work may have more to do scheduling, workload, pay, vacation time, job repetition, dangerous working environments, and so on. Certainly this first line of response is strong and honest communications of your needs and proposed solutions of problems to your immediate supervisors. When no solution seems to be forth coming, and when all channels for immediate improvement seem to be exhausted, then a change in your environment (or job) may be in order. You can try to change the world or you can change your self – which ever is more direct and works.

How can better relaxation affect my productivity?

Studies have repeatedly shown that worker’s productivity goes up when they experience, among other things, a sense of well-being by feeling relaxed. When people’s minds are occupied by fear, anger, jealousy, blame, conspiracy, suspicion, and other negative emotions, their clarity of thought and mental and physical agility is degraded, leading to lower quantity and quality of work. Acute stress initially creates a heightened physiological response mode, but that soon wears off into below normal capabilities over the long term. Relaxed people, by definition, enjoy mental peace and are not distracted by the energy drain of nagging issues. Therefore, they have better focus that nurtures creativity, communications, cooperation, job satisfaction, and productivity.

Can I have a decent income while I’m relaxing more?

Absolutely! And an improved job or pay can be a direct result of your improved work productivity (see above). You can actually earn a better income as a result of being more relaxed at work.

How can improved relaxation affect my emotional disposition?

Relaxation and happiness go hand-in-hand. And when you’re happy from your deep inner source, your emotional stability will be very good. I have seen that the great majority of people who display emotional instability also happen to be people who are on the short end of self-fulfillment. Your ability to relax, and the subsequent nature of your emotional disposition, says a lot about your state of happiness.

As a coach, what can you do to help me relax more?

I could call it a “personal refurbishing project”: We zero in on the sources of your stress, look at their origins, disempower the sources (or wipe them out completely) to remove the symptoms, replace them with the pleasures of life that you hold in the highest regard, and establish your new personal center up within your Higher Self. Yes, there can be a lot of work on your part, but balance the creation of your new life fulfillment and relaxation with the cost of maintaining the current life of fear and stress: Where will you pay the highest price? In our coaching partnership you can enjoy all of the benefits that our collective wisdom can bring forward, and my personal goal for you will be met when you ultimately become your own best self-coach.