Did you know that, in one day alone, there are 1,440 minutes? That’s 525,949 minutes in a year! What do you usually spend your time doing? Almost half of this time is likely to be spent sleeping, some of it will be used for eating, using the toilet, showering, cleaning your house or car and going to work.
Some of you will seek to fill every possible moment in the day full of activity and some of you will try and do as little as is possible, often these two directions end up in the same place anyway; in a heap of exhaustion or depression. Getting the balance right is an art form.
The Nervous System
There are two parts to the nervous system: the central nervous system including the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which acts by itself and allows the different systems, such as the heart, lungs and digestion, to work without having to think about it too much. The second part of the nervous system (peripheral) can be split into two parts: sympathetic and parasympathetic. Sympathetic is the fight or flight part, the part that gets you going and has you on full alert. Parasympathetic is the relax and recover part. It is an extremely complex and hardworking system!
There are many things that can cause this system to ‘burn out,’ including, but not limited to: working longs hours on a regular basis; staying up late most nights; long journey’s by car or plane; and long periods of time in front of a computer- even reading a magazine or watching television can keep your body in a sympathetic state (stressed/high alert).
Conversely, there are lots of things you can do to help switch off the stress system. You can get out into nature and go for a walk, go for a swim, go to a yoga class, spend time laughing with friend or family, sing. If you don’t switch your stress system off, you are not allowing your body’s natural healing process to occur.
A Relaxation Technique
Even if you have a very busy schedule and you don’t have time to do any of the things we have already mentioned, you can try and take just 10 minutes of your day to replenish your mind and body, relax your muscles, calm your emotions, clear your mind and create a natural space for your body to heal itself.
1. Lie down or sit in a comfy chair
2. Make sure you are in a comfortable position
3. Take nice deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth (or nose if that feels more natural)
4. Breathe in and stretch your right leg
5. Breathe out and relax the leg onto the floor
6. Breathe in and stretch your left leg
7. Breathe out and relax the leg onto the floor
8. Breathe in and contract the gluteal (your bum), breathe out and relax
9. Breathe into your tummy, breathe out and relax
10. Breathe in and stretch the back, breathe out and relax
11. Breathe in and stretch both arms, breathe out and relax
12. Breathe in and open your mouth, moving the jaw, contract your eyes and release
13. Feel the weight of your body against the floor
14. Take a deep breath and as you breathe out allow your whole body to rest to the floor
15. Follow your breath as it flows in and out and quietly affirm, ‘I am at peace with myself and my world’.
16. Stay in this quiet place for a few more minutes and allow your body to find its natural balance
17. When you are ready, take a deep breath in and bring your awareness to your whole body and being back in the room
18. Gently stretch and if you are lying down turn onto your side and gently sit up
If you take the time to do this daily, you will be amazing at how refreshed and re-charged you feel- it doesn’t matter what time of day. If you do it in a morning, you will feel great for the rest of the day, and if you do it at night, you will have a great night’s sleep. If you have time, do it at both ends of the day and you’ll really start to reap the rewards.
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