According to the International Stress Management Association, an estimated 1.2 million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, down from 1.3 million in 2009/10. Of these, 500,000 were new illnesses occurring in-year.
These are staggering statistics. People are putting in more hours at work. According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK work the 3rd longest hours in Europe completing a total of 42.7 hours per week (Austria & Greece follow averaging 43.7 hours per week). The responsibility of juggling work with home, family, friends and a social life can lead to unnecessary pressure and a feeling of being overwhelmed.
With extended working hours, and life’s pressures, when do we find time to relax and just enjoy a moment? With commuting, mobile phones, the internet and reality TV, when do you give yourself space to just close your eyes and relax? Chances are, you don't find that time. Many people say they relax whilst watching TV, but your emotions are often involved in this perceived 'relaxing' time.
Everyone has a different lifestyle and daily schedule or routine. Autonomy is key, and you will find that taking time out to relax may change depending on your daily demands. Whilst it may be helpful to have a set time, which will differ for everyone, the macro-idea of incorporating some form of relaxation into your life appears to be more beneficial than the micro-idea of the time of day you relax. For instance, attempting to relax as soon as you awaken could induce sleep. Therefore, after your morning routine of showering and just before breakfast, you may choose to set aside some time for your relaxation. The amount of time is up to you. You may have only 5 minutes, and this will suffice. For you, longer than this may not be tolerable, especially in the early stages of incorporating this into your daily life. It is important to lessen the self-imposed pressure, and to cater the relaxation to what you can manage for now. Weekends may differ from weekdays. Let go of any expectations, as they only contribute to stress.
Stress arises when individuals perceive that they cannot adequately cope with the demands being made on them or with threats to their well-being. R.S. Lazarus (1966). 'Psychological stress and the coping process', New York: McGraw-Hill.
Mindfulness, Relaxation, Meditation. Three techniques that can add quality, depth and possibly years to your life. They all involve the simple, and yet perhaps not easy task of taking time out of your day, finding a quiet space, and in some way, focusing your attention on something. The process of all three will involve the focus on your breathing. Relaxation will involve some visualisation. And Meditation may require non-focus on anything in particular. The later may be a challenge, but as we know from those who practice consistently, is achievable.
In order to relax, you don't have to spend an hour or two. Fifteen minutes will often do and is the equivalent to taking a short nap.
The best way to begin is to find a quiet place to relax. Tell everyone you are 'unavailable' for the next few minutes, however long that may be. Some relaxation apps allow you can set the time from 5- 30 minutes. Use headphones and listen to relaxing music such as nature sounds (ocean, birds) or orchestral music. Many different CDs are on the market to help. Close your eyes and begin taking a few deep breaths. Soon you will find yourself drifting off.
If you are in a creative job, you will find this relaxation session extremely useful. Many artists, writers, musicians and performers rely on this relaxation technique to spark inspiration, new ideas and the energy to see projects to completion.
Relaxation is a proven technique that can help you to manage stress. The NHS now provides relaxation sessions for staff which include alternative therapies such as aromatherapy message, Indian head massage, and spiritual healing. This is amazing.
There are many benefits to learning relaxation. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following in their ‘The benefits of relaxation techniques’:
When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks or the demands of an illness, relaxation techniques may take a back seat in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.
Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
If you'd like some basic techniques, go to my Presentation and follow the simple techniques that are outlined.
A little can go a long way.
Sha is a Counsellor, Hypnotherapist, Writer, and Energy Healer. She has given talks on alternative therapies treating trauma, anxiety states, and most psychosomatic illnesses, and holds workshops on spiritual development, past life regression, and crystal healing. Sha brings the uniqueness of the best of both worlds in having practical and clinical training coupled with the ethereal-based spiritual working narrative, which contributes an explorative perspective. Find out more at www.ninepeachestherapies.com or read her blog at https://ninepeachestherapies.wordpress.com