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Why relaxation is good for your health

Aug 15, 2018 7:30:00 AM / by Tamara Castellano

Relaxation (re lak seishen)


Definition: the state of being free from tension and anxiety; the restoration of equilibrium following disturbance

Synonyms:  calm, tranquility, peacefulness, loosening up, unwinding

The concept of relaxation is elusive in today’s world.  We are always online, always connected, checking and answering email, running kids to activities, doing errands…the to-do list never ends. 

Despite your never-ending list of things you have to do, taking time to relax everyday is actually good for your health.

It’s good for your heart. 

It is universally accepted that stress increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.  Taking time to relax and unwind helps to combat your risk of developing stress-related diseases.

It can improve your memory.

What was I just saying?  All kidding aside, stress impacts the part of your brain that deals with memory, thus taking a little time to chill will improve the odds that you will remember what you went to the store for.

It will make you happy.

I don’t know a single person who isn’t happier after taking a little time to relax. And that’s a scientific fact.  Research shows that people who are constantly under stress have higher levels of the hormone cortisol.  In turn, cortisol reduces the production of serotonin and dopamine—lower levels of the later are linked to depression.

You’re more likely to fit into your skinny jeans.

Back to cortisol again.  Cortisol leads to increased appetite.  When you limit your stress, you reduce cortisol and—by extension—food cravings.  And hopefully all of this leads to a smaller waist.

You make better decisions.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a dumb decision while under stress…I have both my hands up.  Stress clouds your judgement and can impact your decision-making ability on things big and small.  So try and relax before making rash decisions in the future.

Easy ways to relax

Relaxing doesn’t mean doing nothing—although I am happy to spend an afternoon being bored. The definition of being relaxed is to be free of tension and anxiety.  Doing something you enjoy, even if that’s a physical activity, is a form of relaxation.  Here are a few suggestions of ways to relax.

Do something nice for yourself.  Have you been wanting a massage?  Need a new pair of shoes?  Whatever you’ve been putting off doing for yourself, carve out the time and do it.

Exercise regularly.  That’s an obvious one.  But exercise releases endorphins and improves your mood, thus lowering stress.  Exercise doesn’t have to take place in a gym. You can go for a hike, play a round of golf and walk 18…anything that gets your heart rate up will work.

Pet a dog.  This one is my personal favorite. According to a study published in 2009, just by making eye contact with a dog you can lower your blood pressure.

Disconnect from the digital world.  It’s nice to be connected, but sometimes it can be sensory overload.  Take some time each week to unplug for a period of time.  No Facebook, phone or Instagram.

Do you have a favorite way to relax? 
Leave us a comment and share your favorite ways to unwind.

Topics: Member Resources, Healthy Living, Relaxation, National Relaxation Day

Tamara Castellano

Written by Tamara Castellano

Tamara is the marketing communications guru for UP Health.

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