Why We Need a Better Approach to Relaxation
When is a weekend not a weekend? When it feels like the workweek never stopped. The modern workweek’s accumulated stress can be summed up with the concept of “burnout.” Burnout takes many forms – exhaustion, pessimism, feeling hopeless, and even chronic physical pain. And burnout is a worldwide epidemic.
But weekends off don’t guarantee rest and recovery. We need to learn how to actively recharge to make the most of our downtime. And the best way to recover from the modern workweek is through active relaxation.
What is Active Relaxation?
“Active relaxation” may sound contradictory. After all, isn’t relaxation the opposite of being active? But people often underestimate how much they do in a day when they think they’re “relaxing.”
That’s why it is important to learn to actively relax. Active relaxation is simply taking initiative to carve out space and time for your well-being and your health. It’s about using time outside of work to do the things that make you happier, healthier, and less stressed.
Taking the time to actively relax positively impacts your downtime. The great thing about active relaxation is that it always takes the shape of an enjoyable activity. Active relaxation means recovery from the workweek and avoiding burnout.
How to Actively Relax – Indoors and Unplugged
- Sleep, Sleep, and More Sleep
Sleep is the absolute best way to recover from stress and exhaustion. Sleep allows for our body to recover from the day’s stressors, repair muscles, and heal organs. It’s also one of our most neglected activities. Studies show that running a “sleep deficit” during the week is a catastrophic habit for your health.
Start prioritizing your sleep schedule. Begin by setting a consistent bedtime and wakeup time each day. Have a winding-down ritual and avoid using electronics for at least an hour before bed. Improving sleep hygiene dramatically improves every area of your life.
- No Electronics in the Morning
Reducing time looking at screens is a form of active relaxation. People average over seventeen hours a day on their devices, which creates a host of health downsides.
Make mornings electronics-free. While many fun activities involve the Internet, there are even more that require no screens at all. Taking our attention away from screens allows our minds to detach from outside sources of anxiety.
- Mindful Exercise
Exercise classes and yoga routines are fantastic outlets for active relaxation. Modern life often features long periods of uninterrupted sitting or standing. All that static non-movement wreaks havoc on our posture and joints.
Yoga and mobility stretching help the body recover from excess sitting or standing at work. They also provide mindfulness practice as you concentrate on stretching your body. It’s not a stretch to say that you’ll soon notice health and mood benefits from them.
- Learn a language
For many people, learning a language may be relaxing. You can do it online individually or online in groups.
How to Actively Relax Using Technology (Wisely)
Listen to Music and Podcasts While Cleaning
Sometimes household chores occupy our downtime. But tackling that To-Do list can have unexpected stress-relief rewards. Taking charge of housekeeping tasks empowers people to actively improve their living space. Small acts of decluttering leads to a calmer, peaceful environment.
The upsides of tidying your living space are doubled when you listen to music or podcasts while you clean. Passive listening helps your mind to wander while you focus on chores. Together, these two activities are excellent for mental health.
Use Smartphone Apps for Meditation and Breathwork
Our breathing patterns affects our ability to relax. Feeling overwhelmed guarantees shallow breathing in the lungs. And active relaxation is impossible when you are too stressed or anxious to breathe.
Luckily, smartphone apps make meditation and breathwork easier and more accessible than ever. There are immense bonuses to devoting a little time each day to this. This type of active relaxation allows you to learn to take control of your body, beginning with your breath.
How to Actively Relax Outdoors
Nature and Forest Bathing
It might seem obvious that getting outside into nature is an amazing way to actively relaxation. But what may surprise you are the incredible benefits to being outside. Spending time in green spaces like parks and nature trails brings immense improvements to your mood and physical health.
A powerful technique to actively relax outside is “forest bathing.” This Japanese stress-reduction strategy combines mindfulness practice with immersion in nature. Forest bathing is walking through a wooded area while taking in your surroundings with your five senses. Breathing in and noticing all the details around you acts as the ultimate mind decluttering.
Having a drink or two is a common strategy to unwind after a long day. But alcohol consumption crosses into bad habit territory when we depend on it in order to loosen up. That goes double when it becomes a social crutch for social mingling.
People who want to actively relax around others can try alcohol-free socializing. Happy hours and work socials often use alcohol as a social lubricant. But lots of venues now offer more and more options for the sober-curious. Ditching the weekend binge allows you to be more in-tune, open, and present.
Volunteering time and effort to helps others is a clear path to happiness. Taking one or two days a week to volunteer helps combat stress, increase confidence, and prevent loneliness. Volunteering also gives people a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that their actions benefit others.
You and Your Time Are Worth It
Active relaxation is more than just taking a bubble bath or bingeing your favorite show. It’s about finding the activities, places, and people that leave you happy, connected, and recharged. Each person’s idea of active relaxation can be different from another’s. Active relaxation is for you, whatever shape it takes.
Article written by Sebastien Cervantes from BiCortex Translations