The first article in this series, The Art + Importance of Relaxation part 1, looked at the many forms of stress we experience - physical, emotional and environmental. It also looked at the consequences for our physical and mental health when we experience too much stress for too long - when we begin to live/exist largely in the stress response, aka fight or flight.
Because stress contributes to many physical, mental and emotional health problems, we need to practise the art of relaxation if we wish to support our health and thrive. We must practise the art of being a human being, rather than a human doing.
This means making relaxation a priority, to activate the opposite of the stress response - the rest, repair and digest state. This is where our Parasympathetic Nervous System's (PNS) functions dominate and the metaphorical foot has been taken off the gas pedal. It is the state we are designed to live in most of the time, and one conducive to relaxation, digestion, healthy immune function, heart health, healing, and mental and physical and wellness. Regular relaxation and self care are just as important as eating nourishing food, and one doesn't tend to give us the maximum benefits without the other also being part of our lives.
Everyday ways to activate the PNS (and enter the rest, repair and digest state)
However you choose to relax, making a habit of creating space for relaxation and using relaxation tools brings enormous benefits for our mental and physical health. I recommend booking time for relaxation and nurturing activities into your week, and prioritizing relaxation as much as you do work, study and chores. The more we slow down, relax and care for ourselves, the more we'll begin to notice when we drift from this and back into rushing, overload, overwhelm, not caring for ourselves, anxiety and panic. And we can then choose to reach for the tools suggested above.