Sunday, June 6, 2010

Relaxation is NOT a 4-Letter Word!

Does the idea of taking time out feel like a luxury you can't afford? Is it really impossible to find even 10 minutes for yourself? Or is it that essentially you're not "allowed" to take the time?

As a full-time working mom, I understand the drive to do everything and be everything for everyone, which usually puts you at the bottom of the priority list. If you have a free moment, there's always something that can be done - cleaning, laundry, bills, returning phone calls, etc.

I also understand the idea of relaxation as a 4-letter word. For some, relaxation may be a familiar-sounding but forgotten term from your past, pre-relationship or pre-children lives. An elusive, almost mystical concept with no true meaning in the life of today's woman. At worst, relaxation is a profanity that conjures up images of wanton laziness, self-indulgence, and neglect of the important things in life.

Yet, how could you possibly be considered lazy? In a typical day, you've fed and dressed children, fed and dressed yourself, worked 8-10 hours, cooked dinner, reviewed homework, run baths, read bedtime stories, and listened to your partner. You are so far from lazy that it seems almost absurd to even try to apply the word to yourself.

Yet, so many of us walk (or run) around with rigid views about how we're supposed to be. Our internal critics tell us against all contradictory evidence that we still "haven't done enough today." Whether that's the internalized voice of your mother (I know, cliche, yet often true) or a supreme buy-in to the unattainable Superwoman ideal, that harsh voice must be challenged and silenced, or at least seriously muffled.

In truth, relaxation, as with other methods of self-care, is an investment in your emotional, physical, and relational health. Relaxation exercises can:
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve immune functioning
  • Increase concentration
  • Increase productivity and efficiency
  • Decrease anger

It is impossible to be your best and be fully present when you’re feeling exhausted and stretched too thin. Taking just 10 minutes out of your hectic day to slow down, attend to your body, and exist in a worry-free zone can do wonders for your overall mood. And feeling happier and more productive can enable you to fully engage with the people in your life. In this way, self-care is good for you and good for your relationships.

Check out my 10-minute guided relaxation exercise, which is on the home page of my webiste (the link is in the next column where it says, "To schedule an appointment in Media, PA"). This is an opportunity for you to slow down and recharge in a way that will help you reground yourself and be the mom, partner, daughter, friend you want to be. You will get the best results if you can make this a part of your daily, or at least two-to-three times weekly, routine.

Start by finding a quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Let your family know that this is your time and that it is important. You deserve this and ultimately so do they. Sit up straight in a comfortable chair with your arms supported and your feet on the floor. 

Now, begin the recording,...1, 2, 3,..SLOW...

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