How do I teach myself to relax?

August 21, 2020

How do I teach myself to relax?

How do I teach myself to relax?

"Relax? I don't know that word."
A phrase we often hear, which I already said before, and I'm pretty sure you did too.

We live in a society that values performance, and that's clearly evident. It starts at a young age during school, with all the exams, grades and high expectations towards children. It's not surprising that there are more and more people who experience anxiety, even in elementary school...

The "DO" mode is highly valued to the detriment of the "BE" mode.

We tend to congratulate "successful" people: also known as the ones who do a ton of lists, whose agendas are overcharged, who are overloaded at work and willing to cut down their sleep hours. Does it remind you of anyone?
If so, I totally understand because I've been this type of person.

I've learned from my psychology studies, yoga training and personal experiences that it's impossible to sustain this lifestyle in a long-term period and really be happy.

Alright. So, we need to slow down? But how can we really "relax"?

It sounds so simple, yet, it's a real challenge for many people. There's a big difference between what we think will relax versus what will truly relax us. We'll talk about it a little bit further.

  • First, you need to understand that when we're constantly in action, we empty our "energy tank". If we never take some time to relax, one day, it will be completely empty.

That's when physical and mental health issues occur, and it becomes harder to get back on track.

The goal here is to empty AND refill our tank daily. It prevents us from hitting rock bottom or always feel tired.

Step #1 is to understand this and keep reminding yourself about it as often as possible. Write it somewhere prominent, if necessary.

Relaxing is not being lazy nor a waste of time. We need to stop telling that to ourselves because it just doesn't make any sense.

  • Secondly, you need to make a list of your relaxing activities.

It should be clear to know what we do or can do to relax. Sometimes, even though we think about it, nothing comes in mind. If that's the case, it's worth taking a hard look and finding activities to add to your list.

  • Thirdly, you need to analyze your list: Are these activities really relaxing?

During my yoga training, this question popped up. I loved it immediately because sometimes, we think we're doing something that relaxes us, when in fact, it's quite the opposite.

For example, I used to stroll on social media. I felt like it was relaxing, but after thinking about it, I realized that it actually took more energy than anything else. It could even stress me out after seeing what other people had done in their day. So, I decided to replace it with reading instead and, THAT truly relaxes me.

We could say the same thing about television or video games, which are usually very stimulating. Although you don't need to stop them completely, it's important to be aware that they shouldn't be your only source of relaxation.

Find activities, such as an outside walk in the forest or in the streets (without music), meditation, swimming, yoga, reading, painting, etc.

  • Lastly, you need to tolerate discomfort and get better over time.

Yes, at first, it can be uncomfortable to relax. Being alone with yourself may be overwhelming. Hidden emotions and discomforts often tend to come out when you take some time to settle down.
Therefore, the goal is to tolerate them long enough that they'll decrease, and you'll be able to enjoy your activity before it ends. You shouldn't stop your activity as soon as you feel discomfort. By learning to live with your emotions and accept them, you'll become better at relaxing.

Another tip is to start with smaller periods of time and gradually increase them.

Relaxation needs practice and is VERY beneficial for your health and overall happiness. I couldn't recommend it enough!

By Priscilia Vaillancourt
Writer at RAW Nutritional

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