Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hurry Up and Relax

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Can a hectic lifestyle and relaxation coexist? They can and should! Here’s how …

Busy but Balanced

When you most need a break is usually when you have the least time to take one. According to research, this can act as a catalyst to relax rather than the opposite. Creating downtime is often a reflexive response to stress as the body and mind attempt to increase resilience.

One study of 2,022 stressed-out folks revealed high daily stress prompted participants to spend more time on leisure activities than usual. This helped buffer them from the effects of chronic stress. Those with less leisure time were more likely to create some, possibly as a healthy coping mechanism.

A break from busyness.
A break from busyness.

This puts a spin on the stigma society often associates with relaxing. Perhaps doing nothing is actually quite useful. A sign of busyness to be commended! Feel free to get caught reading, meditating, or enjoying a vigorous workout. This act of self-care may signal how truly crazy life is at the given moment.

Maximize Your Relaxation

With limited time for relaxation, you need to make it count.

Determine the type of stress-relief you need. If you’re physically tired, it may mean a power nap or energizing snack (think citrus fruits, lemon ice water, or protein-packed munchies). If it’s mental exhaustion, hit the Center for a fitness class or quick dip in the pool. You may just need time away from your environment– a change of scenery and some invigorating stretches.

Get a boost from a funny video clip or quick e-mail to a friend.

Check on your mood. When stressed and overwhelmed, we often forget to take inventory of our state-of-mind. Others will notice it via their grouch barometers and treat you accordingly. Have a list of your favorite activities available for when you need a mood boost. Keep them short and simply. You don’t want to add to your stress. Stepping outdoors, sipping some tea, or reaching out to a friend are a few ideas.

Review your accomplishments. Use the opportunity to acknowledge all you have done. Some days, this may be a long list of very minor things. Count them.  If you don’t replace a light bulb, run to the bank, or clean out your email, you’ll be sitting in the dark, penniless, and cluttered with correspondence. You get the idea. Noting achievements is motivating. It also prevents downtime from becoming an exercise in procrastination. See your progress and set new goals. You’ll be eager to get back in action.


Fill it with fitness. To help the mind and body relax, it needs to achieve healthy exhaustion. Exercise should be included in the relaxation time you allow yourself. In itself, it is a stress-reliever. A workout is also a positive diversion with a start and end time. This allows the luxury of escape with assurance of remaining on schedule with the stressful stuff.


Fitness Manager RJ’s Stress-Relieving Workout

Power through stress.

Fitness Manager RJ suggests executing a workout that leaves you feeling strong and accomplished. Choose a favorite you really knock out well. (Often, the higher the drench factor, the greater the relief!)

RJ describes his go-to workout for stress relief as a “good old-fashioned strength training session with weights” (heavy weights for RJ). He suggests powering it up with some classical rock music. Give it a try when tension gets high. Experiment. Create your own relief with the variety of options at the Center.

Relaxation is productive. It satisfies a basic need while helping build resilience toward the craziness that makes it necessary.


“Research on Leisure Time and Stress,” by Elizabeth Scott at

Image Credits

Mug with book (introductory photo):

Relaxing couple:

Woman with dog:


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