Mental Health Awareness: Relaxation Is A Necessity Not A Luxury
The Association of Virtual Assistants continues to bring awareness to mental health during the month of May with the help of guest experts.
Georggetta Howie, licensed clinical social worker, life coach, and expert on an impressive range of subjects related to high achieving adults, emotional management, trauma, managing mental health, and mindset shared 7 Tips for Managing your Mental Health as an Entrepreneur.
Last week Nicole Neer, founder, and CEO of Bloom Admin Services, a full-service virtual support agency shared 3 Strategies for Success as a Virtual Assistant. As a VA and an agency owner with fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder, Nicole knows what it takes to not merely survive but thrive.
This week we are pleased to bring you expert advice from Dr. S.D. Shanti a psychologist, public health professional, and the founder of Prescriptions for Hope reminding us that relaxation is a necessity, not a luxury. Dr. Shanti is also sharing micro-relaxation tips for those who feel the most time-starved.
Although it might seem strange to relax when you are in high gear, it is important to relax and refresh to be at your emotional best. You know this in your rational mind. But sometimes your emotional mind might want to talk you out of relaxation because it seems selfish or impractical to slow down.
Go with your rational mind and take time to unwind regularly. Your body will thank you and your performance will be sharper.
Relaxation can take many forms. It can be something simple like listening to calming music for a few minutes and possibly closing your eyes to fully immerse into the moment. Maybe you could push yourself away from your computer and do some gentle yoga stretches. You can also combine more active movement such as walking and dancing with mindfulness and use that as a relaxation break.
Psychologists also often recommend an exercise called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Basically, the exercise involves tensing your muscles for a few seconds and then releasing them.
You can do this in a systematic way by tensing your feet first and letting go, then tensing your legs and letting go, and working all the way up your body to your arms, your shoulders, and the muscles of your face. This sequence adds up to “progressive muscle relaxation.”
If you have the time to do the full routine, that’s great. However, in your time-starved life, sometimes taking a moment for a deep breath is about all you can manage. When crunched for time, try a micro-relaxation and just focus on one or two parts of your body.
Here is a suggestion for a micro-relaxation. You can adapt it to meet your needs, whether you are at work or at home. Straighten your arms; gently make your hands into a fist and hold them tightly, but not so tightly that you hurt. Hold the tension for a few seconds and notice the feeling. Then take a deep breath and slowly breathe out as you uncurl your fingers and let them rest on your lap.
Do you feel the contrast between tension and relaxation and appreciate the difference? Your hands might feel warm, heavy, or floppy like a “Raggedy Ann” doll. If you are at your desk, you can also try this with your feet.
If you are pressed for time, just choose your hands or feet and do this exercise for thirty seconds. It’s enough time to nudge your mind out of the cycle of escalating tension, even when you are juggling your way through a hectic day.
If even this feels like too much, try taking a few deep belly breaths with your full attention. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling slowly, (ideally through your nose), can be just the thing to nudge your body to slow down momentarily and relax into a micro-relaxation.
Dr. S.D. Shanti is a psychologist, public health professional, and the founder of Prescriptions for Hope, a nonprofit foundation in Winterthur, Switzerland. She is the author of the book “The Time-Starved Woman’s Guide to Emotional Wellbeing” from which this article is adapted. Dr. Shanti is also an experienced mindfulness teacher and coach.
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