Most of us experience the negative effects of stress on our mental and physical wellbeing – aches and pains, high blood pressure, gut problems, panic attacks, anxiety and depression, all of which in themselves may cause more stress.

Relaxation is a way that the body can counteract the effects of stress, in that the body’s response to relaxation is almost the exact opposite to that of stress. Overall the mind and body respond favourably to relaxation – it lowers the blood pressure, creates an anti-inflammatory response in the body thereby reducing aches and pains. When relaxed we often see things more clearly, finding it easier to navigate life’s ups and downs.

One of the worst things to be told is to relax at a time when the mind and body do not feel safe to do so. Putting effort into ‘trying’ to relax can create its’ own stress. Certain forms of relaxation may not be relaxing, although it is probably more about what you choose to do to relax and how you feel about doing it.

Research has shown that a group of highly stressed individuals did not relax very well when using television and video games to de-stress. However the same research found those individuals felt guilty and ashamed for using that form of activity to unwind.

What are the best ways to relax? The method you choose should be one that you enjoy, that you can allow yourself to do without creating any negative feelings around doing it. For instance; an activity that requires a financial outlay that you cannot afford; one you choose because you feel you ought to, or you have been doing a particular activity for a while and it no longer inspires you. Relaxation can be as simple as going out for a walk or sitting down on your own and practicing deep breathing. Maybe you have a hobby that relaxes you. Whatever you choose, you may have to retrain yourself to relax.

‘The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it’ – food for thought, in the words of Sidney J Harris

Ann Rambaut, a Chartered Physiotherapist and a Mind Body Coach, is always happy to chat with you about your particular situation without obligation to find out if any of her modalities could help you. If you wish to contact Ann please call on 01323 411900 or mobile 07436 810181.