With the New Year and holidays just past, we were most likely constantly on the go. While a time of celebration, the holidays can also bring stress and anxiety to our lives. It’s important to remember to take time to unwind from all the busy hustling and bustling during this time of year.

Relaxation is one of the most fundamental components of good mental health. An article published in the American Journal of Public Health reports significant benefits to work and overall wellbeing as a result of daily relaxation (American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 67 Issue 10, p946-952). Research also points to other benefits, including brain wellness, decreased stress levels, improved sleep and decreased anxiety. That yoga class at the gym might seem a bit more enticing considering these significant payoffs.

Just consider, if spending a few minutes each day to meditate or calm yourself can have such a considerable effect (without taking a drug/medication), why not make it a part of your regular routine? It makes sense when you consider that relaxation is the opposite of stress on the spectrum of anxiety. Once you learn to relax, the scales become much more balanced.

Basic Tips for Relaxation

Make scheduling time for relaxation a priority. For example, when you wake up (or just before bed), spend 10 to 15 minutes on relaxation techniques. Continually take long, slow breaths: inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Place your focus on breathing, calm and soothing thoughts and pay attention to all five senses. You might want to think of a soothing color, say a prayer or imagine what a perfect day might look like. Notice any intruding thoughts; let them float away, then return your focus to words that remind you of feeling calm, safe and free.

Go ahead relax!

Dr. Meghan Marcum, PsyD

Clinical Psychologist