Does it seem like the world just keeps moving faster and faster? We’re working long hours, parenting, keeping up the house and yard and trying to fit in a social life in between. We’re busier than ever, yet we are all still limited to the same twenty-four hours each day. Something has to give and unfortunately rest and relaxation are the first to go.
Sleep is essential for our long term health and survival. We can’t survive very long without it. If you’ve ever had a newborn in the house or been in any other situation where you didn’t get much sleep for days and weeks on end, you know how bad the effects of sleep deprivation can be. Severe lack of sleep will be noticeable very quickly. Everyone has that occasional sleepless night but after a few days you’ll feel completely frazzled.You can pull one all-nighter, but go for a couple of days on little-to-no sleep and you’ll start to feel like you’re going insane. Sometimes people think that cutting back on sleep here and there is okay but it’s really burning the candle at both ends and sooner or later your body will pay the price.
We need to make rest, relaxation, and adequate sleep a priority to stay healthy and productive. Maybe you feel like you get more done when you get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later. You might feel like you’re catching up on work when you bring it home on the weekend to work on. Sure, it gives you more hours to work on all that backlogged stuff, but it often doesn’t make you any more productive. Work will fill the space that you give to it.
By making rest and relaxation a priority and giving both body and mind to recharge, we can get just as much done in a shorter amount of time. That’s what I hope to show you during this month long exploration on the topic of relaxing and reducing stress.
Unfortunately it feels like we’ve forgotten how to rest and relax. Running on cylinders all daylong can feel exhilarating and super productive, but eventually you’ll crash. Taking intentional periods of relaxation will heal your body from the adrenaline surges and chronic stress and when you return to it, you’ll feel refreshed and more productive.
How to Find Time to Relax
- Start a Journal. Spend a few days noting how you’re spending your time and then you can make intentional decisions about eliminating time wasters.
- Learn to say no. There can be so many demands from our family, kids’ activities, church and community. Most of them are probably worthwhile, but can you really handle them all? Identify what’s most important to you at this season of your life and let the rest go.
- Take digital breaks. A great time to do this might be Saturday evening to Sunday evening. Turn the 24 hour news cycle off and get outside if you can. Your brain needs the break from the constant stream of content intake.
- Ask for help. Outsource what you can. You shouldn’t and can’t do it all. Find family members to help with caregiving and household tasks. Hire a housecleaner if you can.
- Take a nap. There’s nothing wrong with taking a little down time in the afternoon so that you can keep on being productive later in the day.
- Practice deep breathing and meditation techniques. Deep breathing is a great way to reduce adrenaline surges and stress hormones. Just slow, even breaths will help tremendously.
- Make an appointment with yourself for self care. It might be a nice hot shower, some yoga, foot bath or curling up with a book. Whatever works for you!
Relaxation and self care have to be intentional before they become ingrained habits, so go ahead and find that time to relax!