August 15 is National Relaxation Day
In our modern culture, our nervous systems are being bombarded. The 24-hour news cycle, work, kids, social media, home responsibilities, and other demands can create a constant state of stress, with the fight/flight response of our sympathetic nervous system switched permanently to the “on” position. This can lead to fatigue, brain fog, decreased immune response, digestive problems, disturbed sleep, and other issues. We humans are not designed to live in this constant state of sympathetic nervous system activation.
Practicing techniques to bring the nervous system into a relaxed, parasympathetic state will activate our rest, digestion, and repair processes. This increases a sense of calm, improves sleep, stimulates the immune response, and increases our energy.
Here are 5 things you can do to train relaxation:
- Proactive Awareness—every hour or so, pause what you’re doing and be aware of how you feel. Is the nervous system amped or relaxed? If you notice some tension, anxiety, or other sympathetic response, take any of the following actions to calm and relax your system before it escalates.
- Breathe—pause several times throughout the day to focus on your breath. Without straining, take 5–10 full, slow, deep breaths—the longer, the better. Focus on nothing other than the breath. With practice, this breath practice will have a calming effect on the nervous system.
- Use Imagery—take 5–10 minutes each day to lie on your back in a relaxed, comfortable position using support pillows such as the SISSEL classic pillow. If you can’t lie down, close your eyes and do this in sitting. Breathe deeply and slowly, and direct your mind to focus on scenarios of peace and calm. You might imagine a still lake, the ocean, or perhaps a quiet moment with a loved one.
- Warmth—a warm bath can support to relax the body and the nervous system. Add some deep breathing while you’re at it to increase your sense of calm. Alternatively, you can heat up the SISSEL® Linum Anatomic and lie or sit in a comfortable, relaxed position.
- Move in Nature—take a walk or run outside, go for a bike ride, try a stand-up paddleboard, or do Pilates in the Park. If outside isn’t an option, that’s OK—just find a way to move!