Today, we are busy – busy in a way like never before! Our work follows us home, we are able to be connected and contactable 24/7, we are able to talk to someone across the world with a click of a button and the internet feeds us with an endless list of possibilities. However amazing all these technological advancements are, they can potentially affect our long term health, from our quality of sleep, hormone balance, our mood and the way we tolerate stress. So how can we combat this? Relaxation is the key!
Interestingly, under the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is understood that body systems work and repair themselves on a structured clock pattern. This means we have to allow our body time to rest and heal. To ensure we are getting enough time to unwind and relax in the evening to support a good night’s sleep. When we are overworked, frequently get to bed late or experience a poor night’s sleep - our body systems may not get all the love and attention they need to restore and repair.
It might be easy to say take time for yourself, but it’s a very different thing to make it happen! So how do we make the impossible possible?
Be the tortoise and take it slow
We all know the tale of the tortoise and the hare, there is a lot we can learn from that humble children’s tale. When we start to plan time for us, we tend to jump in both feet and make giant plans. However, this isn’t always achievable for the long term. When you have a moment, stop and look at your week. How can you structure meetings more effectively so you can get home earlier? Is there time in your day to sip a cup of tea in the afternoon sun free from distraction? The main thing here is to make simple steps that are achievable and build up from there.
Time to stop glorifying the busy
We do it without even knowing it –when asked ‘how are you?’ do you reply with ‘busy’. In today’s society there can be the perception that if you’re not busy means you are lazy. It’s time to push that perception aside and celebrate people for taking the time out to relax and unwind. Embrace the slightly shorter working week, unwind from the daily grind and more importantly congratulate each other for taking time for ourselves. Over the recent years, there have been many health studies which have found that taking time for ourselves, can actually make us more productive at work and more positive at home.
Create a routine that works for you
It can take anywhere from 21 – 66 days to create a new habit. This if nothing else, means that change can happen if you give it a chance. No two people are alike, which no two routines can match. It’s important to find a routine that works for you and find a way to stick to it.
Switch it off!
This is a big one! There are 1440 minutes a day. This means there are 1440 minutes where we can use the internet, send and receive emails and texts and scroll through (the many) social media accounts one might have, any minute and every minute of each and every day. It’s so important that we switch off and let our mind unwind. When was the last time you had a break and just took in your surrounding environment and not looked at your phone? Another benefit of switching off is avoiding the blue light emitted from our computer screens, televisions, ipads and phones before bed. This simple step can help to balance our biological clock; our circadian rhythm. Research has found that the blue light from our screens can affect our quality of sleep, and therefore our energy levels, how we tolerate stress etc. You ideally should switch off all devices 2hrs before bed.
A helping hand: tips on how to add a little more relaxation into your day
- Find something you enjoy and do it each day. It can be as simple as reading a book, talking with a friend or sipping herbal tea – simply taking time away from the computer
- Create a healthy bedtime routine: traditionally we used to wake with the sun and sleep once the sunset. Today’s lifestyle means this doesn’t happen anymore, we have access to light 24/7, but we still need to create a sleep routine. Aim to be in bed by 10pm each night and up by 7.
- Take time away from the computer: this is a big one for office workers. Take 5 minutes every now and then to get up and away and refresh. Grab some water, go for a walk and grab some fresh air.
- Enjoy herbal teas and unwind. Simple herbs such as chamomile and passionflower are a wonderful to enjoy in the evening, to help you relax and get ready for bed. (just remember tea too close to bedtime can mean night time bathroom breaks – aim to have your last tea at least 2 hours before your bedtime).
- Get active! We know there are many MANY benefits of exercise. Exercise naturally helps with our stress response. Exercising in the morning helps you wake up but can also help you sleep at night. Gentle exercise in the afternoon/evening is a wonderful tool to help unwind from the day, but make sure you don’t exercise right before bed. Give yourself at least 2hrs to rest after exercise before you hit the hay.