What is Relaxation?
It seems like a silly question – but the truth is a lot of people don’t realize what relaxing really means. Relaxation is defined as ‘the state of being free from tension and anxiety’ – something that is not always easily achieved. When an individual is able to achieve relaxation, their heart rate slows down, muscles relax, breathing becomes slower and the blood pressure drops (Mercola, 2015). These physiological changes that occur through relaxing techniques have multiple health benefits – both physical and mental. Relaxation is a mental process that all individuals should engage in for the benefits it brings to their health.
The health benefits of relaxation are both physical and mental. The main benefit of relaxing that is widely recognized is that it reduces stress and anxiety. Other mental health benefits include reduction of depression, increased happiness, decreased psychological distress and increase in overall life satisfaction. Physically, relaxation has been shown to boost immunity, lower blood pressure resulting in increased heart health, increases fertility in women, and decreases effects of chronic pain (Elsaka, 2017). Those who practice relaxing find it has a positive impact on energy levels and productivity. With the reduction of stress and anxiety and increase in overall well-being and happiness, relaxation indirectly allows employees to be more productive in the workplace (Forbes et al., 2017). Relaxation increases overall health, transferring to the workplace for happier, healthier workers.
Ways to Relax
There are several different ways that an individual can relax, and every person is different in their preferences. Some relaxation is completely physical, which transfers to mental relaxation and other forms include completely mental relaxation. The most common and influential form typically involves a combination of the body and mind. Here are some ways to relax that will reduce stress and ease anxiety:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – a way of reducing stress by releasing the tension in your muscles. Lay down flat on your back supporting your neck with a pillow or cushion. Closing your eyes is optional. Focus your attention on different parts of your body in sequence – tense and release that body part, then lightly tense and release, and then just release. Just pay attention to each muscle group and decide to relax it.
- Breathing techniques – focusing on your breathing calms the nervous system, increases focus and reduces stress. Try inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for four seconds through your nose for 10-15 breaths for a quick fix in the workplace.
- Meditation/Yoga – this form of mind/body exercise has multiple health benefits. Try joining a class or looking up poses online! (2017)
Transferring Relaxation to the Workplace
The benefits of relaxation are easily transferable to the workplace. Employees who relax regularly have decreased stress and anxiety report having higher levels of job satisfaction. Furthermore, those who actively relax are more productive and focused in the workplace.
Gowan Consulting can assist employees and provide the skills necessary to increase capabilities in the workplace. Our Occupational Therapists can provide assessments, such as our Functional Cognitive Assessment, to determine areas of strength and weakness in an employee. After determining employee skills, the Occupational Therapist will provide sustainable solutions for the employee to excel in the workplace. When an employee has been away from work for a period of time, our Occupational Therapists can assist in the return to work process. The employee will be re-introduced to the work environment and provided with a variety of skills and resources for maintaining mental health, physical health and work-life balance. To learn more about mental health and return to work, register for our Mental Health and Return to Work Workshop in February!
For more information on the resources we offer, contact us!
Elsaka, A. (2017, Sept 22). Relaxation: Why is it so Important? Retrieved from https://www.health-n-life.com/health-prevention/mental-health/relaxation-why-is-it-so-important/
Forbes, H., Fichera, E., Rogers, A. & Sutton, M. (2017, March 9). The Effects of Exercise and Relaxation on Health and Wellbeing. Health Economics. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hec.3477
Images retrieved from google.ca/photos/relax
Mercola. (2015, Feb 26). Relax, You’ll Feel Better. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/02/26/health-benefits-relaxation.aspx