Chilling Out: The Power of Rest & Relaxation

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Have you ever needed to just chill out? With the hurried busyness of our often chaotic and hectic lifestyles, most of us underestimate the power of what it means to just chill out and relax. For varied reasons, we move at warp speed these days. Most of us literally move from place to place, rarely taking the time to slow down, relax and rejuvenate our bodies and minds.

If we slow down and get proper relaxation, we can transform ourselves overnight. Though it may seem counterproductive to relax in the midst of a busy schedule, doing so can actually help increase our productivity, accomplish more in less time, and feel happier. The body needs rest each night to function properly. The amount of rest each individual needs every night differs, however the average adult needs approximately 7-8 hours of sleep each night. However, we often cut back on their sleep to pack more activities into their day. Unfortunately, this runs the body down allowing more viruses and diseases to attack the body because the immune system is not functioning as well as it should. Then, you become sick and miss days or even weeks of all of those important activities. When you get enough rest your body runs as it should and your immune system is stronger and able to fight off infections more easily.

With proper rest and relaxation our circulation is enhanced, stress is instantly reduced, and we have a more positive attitude and enhanced mental function. So, why is a little R&R good for all of us? First and foremost, rest and relaxation restores our energy. We forget that we have a limited amount of energy to expend and that our bodies need rest to keep generating more energy. Our bodies function very similar to the vehicles we drive. If you do not put gasoline in your tank, your car will eventually stop. Our bodies are the same way. Our batteries recharge when we relax and get enough sleep each night.

Also, our bodies are designed to repair themselves from the daily wear and tear we impose on them, and this most often happens while we rest. Most of us tend to skimp on our sleep time and push ourselves beyond our physical limits, which prevents us from achieving optimal health and wellness. If you are constantly on the move and not getting enough sleep, you use most of your energy to keep going, which means your body does not have enough stored energy to heal itself and you may suffer from fatigue or illness. Rest and relaxation allow our bodies the opportunity to heal and restore.

Proper rest and relaxation tends to calms our thoughts and improves focus. Just as we tend to push our bodies past their limits, our minds are constantly on the move too. Ask anyone who has an intellectually demanding job - heavy thinking can be just as draining as physical exertion. It is a scientific fact that when individuals miss good nightly rest their personality is affected and they are generally grumpier, less patient, and short tempered. As a result, reducing rest to fit in all those activities might make you a bear to be around, which is not much fun at all. Moreover, excessive worrying can also wear us down, as can constant mental chatter or any kind of mental strain. When we set aside time to be relax, we should also focus on quieting our thoughts and letting our minds rest. This can often be more restorative than the physical aspects of relaxation. Another great effect is that our calm mental state improves concentration and allows us to focus better.

In addition, relaxation lifts our moods and often times can also help us to feel happier. We can even take a more proactive role in improving our mood during periods of rest and enhance the effect. Rather than letting our thoughts drift aimlessly, we can choose to think about things that make us feel happy. Remember that our thoughts usually determine our mood. If we think happy thoughts, we feel happy. Lastly, a well rested mind and body, stimulates our creativity. Creativity is one of those things that become stronger the more we focus on it, but stress and busyness disconnect us from the creative potential within us. When you stop rushing and set aside your worries, you can create a harmonious environment in which you can flourish.

So, the next time you think it is a good idea to stay up late to watch television, complete a task from work, or just hang out with friends, ask yourself - should I be resting, relaxing, and just chilling out instead?

If you have any questions, please contact the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc. 202-637-8400 or visit www.ncba-aged.org.

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