Body: Rest and Relaxation is Important?

   Don't you agree with David the Psalmist that "We are fearfully and wonderfully made?" (Psalms 139). Our bodies are truly works of art - each constellation of cells, canopy of muscle and intricate network of synapses are highly specialised and perfectly designed to fulfil its predetermined purpose by God, our Master Creator.

We are constructed in such a way that each cell, sinew and tissue is created for "work". The heart our "master pump"  beats on average 110,000 times a day to circulate blood through millions of miles of arteries, veins and capillaries; whilst the brain our "master mind", co-ordinates the movement of 600-800 muscles using 15-20 billion brain cells! Aren't you amazed?

The most incredible thing is that this "work", takes place behind the scenes enabling us to consciously do the things we need to live our lives. Even simple things such as walking, running, lifting, carrying, thinking and talking, require effort. We need a combination of energy and rest to keep our bodies working effectively. Our heart rests between beating; we take breaks between breathing in and out; we also spend at least one third of our 24 hour cycle asleep, which tells me that "rest" is "as" important, if not "more" important than "work".

Rest and relaxation are critical to our normal functioning because during this "down time" our body is healing, repairing and cleansing cells and tissues. During sleep, the body can attend to the more intensive task of restoration by removing toxins and waste that have built up during the day, without interruption. Sleep is also essential for the release of hormones that regulate important bodily processes such as blood sugar, muscle strength, blood pressure and growth. It makes sense therefore, that when we have difficulty sleeping or we are overworked, we are more susceptible to illness and stress, because the body is unable to restore itself.

Many of us have experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by life when we find it hard to relax because we have so many chores to undertake whether it is at home or work or as a result of personal or family commitments. Sometimes it seems as if there aren't enough hours in the day for us to meet all the demands upon our time.

When this feeling persists over a period of time it can lead to "stress". Stress, is useful to us in short bursts as it prepare our bodies to either "fight" or "flee" from situations which pose threats to the safety of ourselves or others. Prolonged exposure to stress however, can impact upon our physical and emotional wellbeing causing headaches, irritability, difficulty sleeping, headaches and back pain. When we are overloaded by stress we can experience "burnout" and other conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer and depression.

10 Tips For A More Relaxed Lifestyle

Set out below, are 10 ways to avoid burnout by developing a routine of regular rest and relaxation.
  1. Organise yourself by keeping a list of the things you need to do for the day make the most of the times when you are at your most productive and use routines for everyday activities to save time.
  2. Avoid overwork by maintaining a balance between work and relaxation.
  3. Ensure you have balanced daily rest physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
  4. Allow yourself at least an hour of free time during the day doing something you enjoy- sports, creative pursuits, walks, spending time with friends or family.
  5. Build in time where you are doing nothing just relaxing.
  6. Develop a routine that suits you and avoid extremes "too much organisation can be as ineffective as too little".
  7. Accept help when offered- don't be afraid to delegate to others at home or work.
  8. Avoid eating heavy meals before bed time as well as food and beverages which interfere with normal sleep.
  9. Cultivate a routine that promotes relaxation- a warm bath before bed time, a hot drink, listening to calming music or reading.
  10. Taking regular holidays where you can do things that you do not normally do: such breaks can provide emotional and mental restoration, improve creativity and strengthen relationships.
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