Stop the Racing — and Relax

Health, Home & Family
on September 9, 2001

Does it seem that home and job responsibilities keep you running faster every year? Taking time out for yourself and your family may seem a challenge and relaxation a luxury, but racing through life diminishes the quality of your life and can leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled. Stress induced by a constant state of rush also raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, weakens your immune system, and more.

Reasons for taking time to relax are numerous, but how do you do it? First, recognize that life doesnt have you on the run, you have you on the run, and only you can slow things down.

Any or all of these ideas may help:

Take mini-relaxation breaks. Close your eyes for a minute or two and let your face muscles and shoulders relax. Try this at your desk, in the restroom, while waiting in line.

Play soothing music. Turn off the television and turn on a radio or pop a CD or tape into your home stereo system. In the car, choose tranquil tunes rather than the news, talk radio, or chatty disc jockeys.

Prepare for sleep. Before jumping into bed and racing off to sleep (or insomnia), light a candle on your bedside table and sit on the edge of your bed (or in a chair if you prefer). Then, if only for 3-5 minutes, visualize all your troubles leaving your mind and body. Let go of everything. We tend to drag our daytime tension into the night, grinding our teeth in our sleep and having negative dreams or insomnia. It takes only a few moments to let go of the tension and create a space for peace and deep rest. You will enjoy this so much you may find yourself extending this meditation for longer than you thought you had time.

Cut back caffeine. Switch some of your caffeine intake to herbal teas and pure water.

Recapture joy. As you watch your children, put the serious, vigilant, adult part of you in the background while you let that part of you that is starved for joy merge with the pure, simple pleasures that your child experiences. Absorb that joy.

Remember that a full life experience does not mean that whoever crosses the most things off their list wins. Instead of pushing yourself to see how fast you can run and for how long, tell yourself that you deserve better. Slow down and live a life of quality.