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The Lost Art of Relaxation – Recovering the Ability To Wind Down

sun rising meditationToday, many people live with hectic schedules and constant demands.  The level of stress can become severe when work duties, family responsibilities and community demands stretch nerves to the breaking point. Relaxation is becoming a lost art form. In order to increase your ability to wind down from everyday stress, you must cultivate the actions and activities that lead to greater well being.

Electronic Onslaught

Everyone lives connected to the Internet today. People use their phones and emails to stay in touch with clients and coworkers throughout the day. The constant electronic connection often extends to family life, as well, with children keeping in contact with parents for a variety of needs. Although this ability to stay connected can be a good development, it can also lead to a feeling of being constantly on duty, with high stress levels and no time to think one’s thoughts.

Finding the Quiet

In our everyday world, people become accustomed to the constant buzz of electronics, the whine of machinery and the chatter of the TV. Re-discovering the healing quality of silence can help to restore your physical and mental well being. Turn off all electronics and appliances for a period each day. Listen to the quiet of your home and yard. At first, the quiet may be disturbing because people are so used to background noise. Relax into the feeling. Listen to the birds chirping outside. Hear your children’s voices in the other room. Be aware of the noises from the street. Plug into the sounds of normal, non-electronic life.  Feel your muscles and nerve endings relax. Notice how your mood changes. Breathe deeply and feel a calmer, most controlled state of mind envelope you.

Nighttime Routines

The stress people carry around with them throughout the day can last well into the evening hours and cause sleep problems. Programming a period of “de-stressing time” into your day can help you to be more relaxed in the evening so that you can get to sleep more easily and stay asleep throughout the night. Organize for the next day’s activities early in the evening. Turn off all electronics, including the TV.  Engage in a quiet hobby activity for a short period. Create a bedtime ritual, such as walking the dog, laying out clothing, brushing teeth and reading for a short period before going to sleep. Rituals can help the mind prepare for the downtime of nightly sleep periods. Quiet music can also put people in a relaxed state in preparation for bed. Ensure that the temperature is comfortable for sleeping. Make sure that clothing and bedding is comfortable. Adjust the lighting for your individual needs.

Make the Most of Your Vacation

Vacation time was designed to allow a period of away from work duties, but many people take their work along with them in their suitcase. Resolve to unplug the cell phone and only check email once each day. If an immediate work emergency arises, deal with it in a minimal way until you return to work.  Respect your need to mentally and physically disconnect from work stress, and spend the time enjoying the activities you most enjoy.

Family Time

Time with the family is the most critical portion of your winding down exercise.  Eliminating the distractions and extraneous thoughts allows you to focus your attention on your children. When you put aside this time to truly focus on their needs, you will learn a great deal about what they’re thinking, what their world is like and who figures large in their lives. No other way exists to truly be in tune with your children’s thinking. Removing the distractions ensures that you are a better, more-engaged parent who is able to be the correcting, education force that impressionable children really need.

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