In these days of austerity, we are all trying to cut back where we can to help make ends meet. But very often the first things we make cuts on are the things we consider ‘frivolous’ and self-indulgent, things that make us feel good about ourselves and help us to relax. The truth is that this should be the complete the opposite, in difficult and stressful times we should be taking more time out to relax and de-stress our bodies. This enables us to be far better equipped to cope with life’s problems. Watching the news has never been more depressing than in recent months and leads to us feeling low, by taking a little time out from the everyday grind we can give ourselves a boost, which in turn leads to a far more positive outlook on life and its stresses and strains.
The human body strives for a state of homeostasis; this is when all systems within the body are working together, the body balanced and healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually. To achieve this state we need to allow our bodies to relax. Allowing yourself to relax is not a frivolous pleasure, it is vital to health. Relaxation is scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure and decrease muscle tension. We are all familiar with the signs of stress; tightness in the stomach, jaw, neck and back, shallow breathing, clammy hands, fatigue and a pounding heart. When stressed the body releases adrenalin and other chemicals like noradrenaline, the heart rate increases, blood vessels dilate and with a decrease in metabolism, extra glucose surges into the blood steam to give you extra fuel. With all this going on in the body it is easy to see why it can sometimes be an unpleasant experience. Prolonged exposure to stress has also been linked to memory loss. The adrenal glands secrete a hormone called cortisol in times of stress and in trials scientists have been able to induce memory loss in elderly patients by elevating the level of cortisol. So you can see that sustained exposure to stressful situations can have a negative and sometimes irreversible effect on the human body.
Holistic therapies are an excellent way to prioritise time for relaxation whether you choose massage, reflexology, or any other form of touch therapy it can all have a positive effect on the body, mind and spirit. Engaging in a therapy you enjoy helps you to unwind and forget the world, even if just for a short while and allows the body to find a state of equilibrium.
So time to let go, unwind and allow that body to relax. Do not underestimate the powers of being pampered. The expectation of doing something positive for your own health can be healing in itself. Do not feel guilty or self-indulgent; relaxation is a fundamental need of the body, mind and spirit.