02 Feb Sometimes the most Productive thing you can do is Relax
From researching this blog, it has become very apparent that relaxation is deeply personal and unique to each individual. According to the Collins English Dictionary, relaxation is a ‘way of spending time in which you rest and feel comfortable’. While researching, it became swiftly apparent that people’s methods of relaxation could potentially be divided into two separate methods; active or passive. Active methods of relaxation might include something creative or physical, perhaps like exercise, painting, cooking or playing a musical instrument. More passive relaxation could look like taking a bath, dozing or snuggling down with a favourite box set. A combination of both of these methods could therefore be the perfect recipe for true relaxation…
Sometimes the most Productive thing you can do is Relax
Being able to relax and take time away from work, study and stress is actually proven to make you more productive overall whilst it also boosts your mood and can support good mental health. The key to effective relaxation where you feel recharged and re-energised afterwards, is to make it purposeful and a valuable part of your daily routine. The reason you need to be purposeful and put time aside for your relaxation is because your brain needs space and time to relax – it’s not necessarily an instant process and can take techniques such as meditation, exercise or distraction to help really switch off. When our brains are less busy, there is less information and stimuli to process, making space for creativity and ideas to flourish – you might even find you have a few of those lightbulb moments or epiphanies you’ve been waiting for!
Rest and relaxation can also boost productivity in the areas of focus and decision making: A well-rested brain is better equipped to concentrate, focus, decision-make and process. This is really important during times of increased anxiety such as exams or important work deadlines – sometimes having the strength to step away for a while can allow you to refocus. It’s also a key point to accept that physically, too much of the stress hormone cortisol can negatively impact mood and result in low energy levels, thus having an adverse effect on our productivity.
Balance is Key
You may have heard the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ and that really is the key to managing successful productivity, and the balance between stress and calm. Stress isn’t always a negative situation to find yourself in – a certain amount of it can be a motivator and driver to success! It can be energising but when the balance is tipped and stress takes over it can be damaging to our mental and physical health and it’s important to re-address the equilibrium.
Make Relaxation a Group Activity!
Good relationships with friends and family members can be a fantastic way to support your relaxation. Research shows that people with great social support around them seem to be more resilient when faced with pressure and worry. We all know that we feel better when we have met with friends for a cuppa or a natter and hashed out our problems with them – as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved! Positive relationships at work are also beneficial in helping our productivity – these connections can increase efficiency by improving how we work and communicate together successfully. Happier, healthier employees are also more likely to stay in their roles longer and call in sick less as we tend to work better with people we genuinely trust and respect.
We talked about active relaxation earlier and this is a great activity to share with others. A walk, jog or run can be an excellent way to relax and switch off. Sometimes you may feel the need to do this alone, but doing this with a friend can help you feel more motivated – it’s easier to make it a regular part of your life if you’ve made a commitment to someone else to go for a run…for some reason we often find it harder to let a friend down than to let ourselves down!
Massage, Aromatherapy and Relaxation
There are so many ways in which massage can help us feel relaxed. The first one may be that we are putting some time aside just for us – where we physically can’t be distracted or pulled away. The second is that stress or feeling uptight can be quite a physical feeling and massage reduces this by relaxing muscles and warming soft tissues in the body. Massage boosts circulation to deliver more blood to the muscles, helps stimulate the lymphatic drainage system and relieves tension.
The power of massage and the human touch is now known to also boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and decrease the level of stress hormones such as cortisol. Allowing someone to touch you involves a certain amount of trust and that in itself can be very liberating and relaxing. When pain or tension is released or at the very least soothed through massage, it can mean we are able to focus better as we aren’t distracted by that sore, tense neck or headache. Massage also prompts the release of endorphins – the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that produce feelings of wellbeing.
Massage when combined with Aromatherapy can be doubly impactful as you receive the physical benefits of stimulation to the body, and the emotional effects that many Essential Oils can contribute. Aromatherapy in our environment is a great aid to support relaxation too; the routine of lighting a scented candle in the evening or during a massage can send a powerful message to our brains to switch modes from work to ‘relax’. The gentle lighting of a flickering candle can also be helpful as low light triggers our brains’ response to darkness which is to produce melatonin, otherwise known as the sleepy hormone.
Massaging with a carrier oil such as Sweet Almond oil is perfect as it is an excellent lubricant and offers an extended slip time. Grapeseed oil is a very popular choice for massages because it has a light, non-greasy texture and won’t sit on the skin for too long after a massage. Combining either of these two carrier oils with an Essential Oil or a blend of them can have powerful effects. Lavender Essential Oil has a long history of being well known as being calming and soothing, as well as having the ability to support a good night’s sleep. It’s therefore a great ingredient in a massage oil if you’re looking to aid relaxation. Oils which can potentially help you feel refreshed and boost productivity and focus are Rosemary, Peppermint and Lemon Myrtle, so they are perfect ones to choose if you’re looking for a lift or to encourage some mental clarity!
However you choose to relax, make sure it is something you prioritise in your life to ensure you maintain the balance you need to be truly productive.