The most underrated aspect of health is relaxation. Sleep is starting to be better understood. Lack of sleep contributes to the development of conditions like high blood pressure diabetes and depression. Relaxation is the time when we are not “doing” stuff whilst we are awake. What we regard as relaxing, of course differs.
In our fast paced world, business is often worn as a badge. We can seem important if there are lots of commitments. It can also boost our egos to feel that so much and so many depend on what we do. There is also the false belief that we can continue to operate efficiently and effectively for long periods – that our productivity is not impacted.
The reality is different. The longer we work without relaxation the less productive we become. Studies looked at high school students who stayed up late cramming. They show that the results are not better and in fact worse when compared to those who close the books and went to bed on time and relaxed.
A study at the University of Utah looked at the effects of getting away from it all on our mental capacity. Groups of people were given creative tests to do before and after a period of time in nature. Their scores were 50% better after between 30 minutes and three days out in the fresh air in nature-away from technology and interruptions.
It makes sense! Our minds are powerful but it will always divert to something new. If we are working and the phone rings we will likely answer it. Likewise we can be distracted by emails or other notifications. Yes we can snap back to what we were doing but our thoughts have been interrupted.
To think clearly we need brain space. This is what time out gives us. This also applies to stress. Solutions to our problems are more likely to be found when we can think clearly and have some “breathing space” away from constant pressure.
Do we have to sit in a cave and chant ohm? No! Relaxation can be slotted into our schedule but we need to prioritize it. It can be a walk in nature, listening to music, playing with pets, doing meditation or anything else which relaxes us.
A trick for regular exercise is to diarize it. For those who have trouble relaxing you can put relaxation time into your diary and then commit to it. After a couple of months it will become part of your routine and you will be better for it.