Pura Botanica Blog

The History of Relaxation

There are 150 new emails waiting in your inbox, you have 3 people on hold at the office because your next conference call starts in exactly five minutes and you just spilt scalding hot coffee on that new pair of work pants. I think it’s time to kick back. When we feel overworked and stressed, sometimes all we need is a few minutes to ourselves to just take it easy and relax. We all know relaxation is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, but all too often is it overlooked. Here is a little history on the foundation of relaxation and why it is should be a natural incorporation into every person’s daily life.

relax

From a psychological standpoint, relaxation is the emotional state of a human being. Free from any tension, there must be an absence of stress induced emotions such as anger, anxiety and fear. Textbook definitions of the term state that complete relaxation is when both the body and mind are free from any tension or anxiety. What most people don’t know is that relaxation is actually a mild form of ecstasy that comes from the frontal lobe of the brain. It can help improve your ability to cope with stress and stress-related incidents. Because stress is the leading cause of mental and physical problems, feeling relaxed is an essential and beneficial part of a person’s health.

The idea of relaxation came about when Dr. Edmund Jacobson published his medical book, Progressive Relaxation, in the early 1920’s. The book was geared toward doctors and medical scientists and described the tensing and relaxing of muscles to achieve an overall relaxation of the body. Due to the overwhelming positive response to his first book, he soon released another, You Must Relax, in 1934. This work was more geared toward the average reader, as the goal of his research was to improve the general human wellbeing.

So how exactly is it beneficial to my health, one may ask? While it feels good to conquer that stressful day ahead of you, relaxing whenever possible and in whatever ways work for you are healthier for you than you may actually think.

Relaxing protects your heart.

Red heart shape with cross bandaid in doctor's hands. SDOF. Close-up.

Most of us are aware that stress can take a toll on your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks. Research is unanimously in favor of relaxation for the sake of your heart. Taking the time to calm down can decrease your heart rate and adrenaline, leading to the stimulation of a calmer mindset.

Relaxation can boost your memory.

brain power

Studies have found that chronic stress impairs the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part involved in thought, cognitive analysis and detecting appropriate behavior in situations. They also show that shorter bursts of stress impaired the centers of the brain involved in memory and learning. Relaxation can allow for your brain to rest from the ongoing stressors of the day and can even further accelerate the production of proteins in the brain that allow for a strong memory.

Relaxing keeps you fit.

comfort

We all love a good comfort food every once in a while, however, when we are stressed, reaching for foods high in fat and sugar are harder to resist. This can lead to packing on the pounds, and quick. Cortisol, the hormone that causes stress, has been shown to increase appetite and even encourage junk food cravings. By maintaining a stress-free life, eating that salad at the end of the day will be just as satisfying as the ice cream sundae calling your name at the shop right next to the office.

We don’t just relax for fun; there is actually substantial evidence to show a strong connection between relaxation and physical health, some of which was listed above. So next time life gets in the way, and we know it will, it is important to know how to deal with it. All it takes is a little bit of time each day to kick up your feet and relax. You will be benefitting your wellbeing in more ways that you know. So light up your favorite scented candles and take a walk on the road to better relaxation.