August 15 is National Relaxation Day. This day to just focus on yourself and on reducing stress was founded in 1985 by a fourth grader named Sean Moeller. As the old saying goes, “out of the mouths of babes…” Sometimes we adults really need the wisdom of a child to tell us to take the time to relax.
Our world can seem like we go from one crazy activity to another. Between work, family, friends, exercise, and the things we have to do daily to take care of house and home, we barely have time for ourselves. So we need days like today to remind us to care for ourselves.
Why do we need to relax? It’s a proven fact that burnout can cause a myriad of mental and physical health problems. When we are constantly on the go and forget about taking care of ourselves, we may feel tired, sluggish, achy, irritable, and maybe even angry and depressed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms and help you enjoy a better quality of life, especially if you have an illness.” The University of Sydney reports that “regular relaxation can delay the onset and progression of disease, reduce duration of illness and hasten a return to better health.” And even ancient philosophers understood the importance of leisure time—a time to sit and just reflect.
Further, the Mayo Clinic reports that relaxation techniques can help with
- Slowing heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing breathing rate
- Improving digestion
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Reducing activity of stress hormones
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving focus and mood
- Improving sleep quality
- Lowering fatigue
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
Those sound like 13 great reasons to take the time on August 15—and every day—to relax.
Unfortunately, this year August 15 is on a Tuesday, which means you will likely have to go to work. But don’t worry; we have plenty of suggestions for how you can incorporate some relaxation into your day, whether you are at home or at work.
First, remember the importance of a good mindset. Telling yourself that you have to slow down and take care of yourself is crucial. Once you understand that your mental and physical health will suffer if you don’t take time to relax, you will make it a priority.
Now that you realize how you will benefit from some relaxation, let’s talk about incorporating it into your life.
If you are on vacation, if you work from home, or if you are retired, then you can—and should—spend the entirety of this National Day of Relaxation doing just that. Relaxing. Sleep in, read a book, listen to music, take a walk outside, do some stretching exercises or yoga, sit outside in the sun, take a nap, talk and laugh with a friend, or just watch a lighthearted TV show you’ve been interested in. The key is to relax both your body and mind so that you feel refreshed.
If, however, you have to work, it may be a little trickier to incorporate relaxation techniques into your day. But you can do it! Begin the day with the goal of adding just one or two relaxing activities to your morning and afternoon and then give yourself the night to relax. Don’t do yardwork. Don’t take work home. Don’t do anything that will cause you to stress. Today is all about your mental and physical health.
If you do work in an office, take a few minutes or more (however much you can) twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon to relax. Stop what you’re doing and play your favorite song. Open the window and just gaze outside. Get up and do some stretching exercises. Go sit on a bench in front of the building and people watch. Or simply close your eyes and clear your mind.
After work, do your best to put stressful thoughts aside. Leave the office at the office. Forget about work-related problems. Enjoy your family or friends. Lie on the couch with a good book. Listen to music. Play a board game with your kids. Light a fire in the fire pit outside. And then get to bed early.
Never underestimate the power of sleep. Follow up your day of relaxation with a good night’s sleep.
Just one day of relaxation will not be a miracle cure, especially if you feel constantly fatigued or stressed. But incorporating these techniques into your daily life on a regular basis will go a long way to helping you feel better both mentally and physically.
So go celebrate by doing nothing! And enjoy the day!