I haven’t got time to relax – really? Have you got time not too? Being able to relax is important to achieving optimal performance and health. You name it; being relaxed will increase your productivity in it. If you’re not relaxed, everything you do will be a struggle. Relaxation provides mind-body integration necessary for peak performance. It is important to relax to get your mind clear and your body tension free; to regain focus and to cool down and to help return to a balanced physical state. Relaxation is vital for a healthy mind and is required to maintain motivation and interest in our lives and careers. Not being able to relax and unwind can be damaging to your health. Even when there are huge demands on your life, you may have a large family, an important career, and a home amongst your other weekly commitments – it is still necessary to find your own time and space to relax. It is very important that throughout the day we find time to relax. Twenty minutes, two or three times a day, is preferred. If you can’t manage twenty minutes, it’s important to realise that whatever amount of time you do manage to get to relax will be beneficial to your mind and body, even if not noticeably so. When time is short there are a number of things you can do: reading, writing, daydreaming or just sitting quietly. Quite often what ever you do to relax will be personal and work for you, so you need to find what works best. As a Life Coach I have worked with numerous people with issues relating to relaxation and stress etc. It’s interesting that initially many find it difficult to slow down and see the benefits of taking more time out. However after a few weeks and a couple of life coaching sessions focused on this area, and a bit of commitment on their part, most change their ways and wax lyrical about the benefits to their lives. Some of the common benefits of relaxation are: • It improves your ability to concentrate. It will help you in your ability to tune out distractions and gives you better sensory awareness. • It improves body awareness; you need to know when you are under or over doing it. • It speeds up healing time following an injury and fatigue, the body needs to recover fully if it’s going to perform at an optimal level in the near future. • Learning is enhanced, it is much easier to introduce new thoughts and ideas when your mind is clear and you are relaxed. Skills are best learned when you are in a relaxed state and there is an absence of tension. • It helps you sleep better • You become more efficient • It puts your focus back on the present and gives you a sense of control • It increases energy If you don’t take the time to unwind and relax regularly, you might be putting not only your own health and well-being at risk but also that of others as well. In relation to your responsibility to the health and safety of others; we only have to think of driving a car, or operating machinery, and how our ability to do these tasks diminishes when we are tense, tired and stressed. So in fact our responsibility to relax is not just for our own sake but also for that of others. With regards to our own health and emotional well-being, if we don’t make time to relax regularly we are putting our health and mental health at risk of failure. Some of the effects of lack of relaxation are below: • Headache, common ones being tension headaches and migraines. Controlling tension and relaxing can help migraines. Tension headaches are susceptible by definition to treatment by relaxation. • Chronic fatigue, your body is in a total sate of fatigue. You suffer from total lack of energy and motivation all of the time. • Cardiovascular disorders, high blood pressure and heart disease, heart attack. • Gastrointestinal problems, diarrhoea, constipation and stomach ulcers as well as indigestion and heartburn. • Poor immune system, becoming susceptible to illness Early warning signs that we need to have a break and relax are: • Yawning/sighing • Lack of concentration • Feeling the urge to stretch and move about • General drop in performance • Feelings of stress and irritability • Performing uncommon errors • Tiredness If we are aware of the signs and take notice of them and take a break etc, you could avoid a lot of stress and fatigue, you will be more rational and focused, and better equipped to carry on, and be far healthier. Spending a lifetime of ignoring the signs could impact heavily, not only on your health, well-being and happiness but also those around you. Relationships could suffer as well as your career. On a personal note, the consequences of not taking time to relax over a lifetime could mean you pay the ultimate price. You say you don’t have time to relax. I say you don’t have time not too. You are your own best resource; you need to take time to nurture and look after yourself.