Why Relaxing is Important for Your Health
Finding the time to relax is essential for your health and well-being. Within Western society, the average adult works 50 weeks a year with only two weeks paid vacation. That doesn’t give you much time to destress and rejuvenate.
Do you want to find out if you are stressed? Take a moment to answer the questions in this short quiz. Are you:
- Rushing to get the kids and/or yourself ready for school in the morning?
- Skipping breakfast and eating something unhealthy later?
- Navigating gridlock traffic to get to work?
- Eating at your desk at lunch while you work?
- Using your free time to do housework and run errands?
- Constantly interrupted with emails and the cell phone ringing?
- Not having enough time to exercise properly?
- Getting less than the recommended 8 hours sleep?
You’re not alone…Unfortunately.
The popular modern-day mantra to keep busy 24/7/365 means we’re continuously juggling responsibilities, rushing to meet the needs of others, and forced to adapt to a constantly shifting playing field. This level of activity isn’t sustainable for anyone and it’s leading to physical and mental health challenges. Scientists continue to explore the negative impacts of chronic stress and they are providing ever stronger evidence that we need to do a better job of incorporating relaxation into our busy lives.
Professor Sheldon Cohen[/caption]According to research by Dr. Sheldon Cohen, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, relaxing lowers your risk of catching a cold. His studies on stress research found chronic stress impedes your body’s ability to fight inflammation, increasing your risk of getting sick.
Strong evidence links chronic stress to depression and other mood disorders. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol lowers serotonin and dopamine levels, all of which is linked to depression. “Like regular email vs. email spam, a little stress is good but too much is bad; you'll need to shut down and reboot,” says Dr. Esther Sternberg, a leading stress researcher and the chief of neuroendocrine immunology and behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Improve Your Memory
Researchers at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, have revealed relaxation can improve memory retention, which is particularly beneficial for patients with mild to moderation dementia. “Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds,” Michaela Dewar, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a statement. She added that the study suggests “activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information a week later.”
Make Better Decisions
Cognitive neuroscientists Dr. Mara Mather and Dr. Nichole Lighthall found stress can change how we weigh risks and rewards, and negatively interfere with our judgement and reasoning. “Stress seems to help people learn from positive feedback and impairs their learning from negative feedback,” Dr. Mather says.
It’s Time to Take the Hint
Overwhelming scientific evidence points to the physiological and mental benefits of relaxation. Why not take the time to let your mind and body recharge; to nurture yourself and focus on your health and well-being? Maybe don’t bank your vacation hours or schedule a house renovation. If you're already staying with us, don't forget to visit the spa, and if you're not here already, check out our current specials!
Why not plan the Caribbean beach vacation you’ve been dreaming about instead? The ivory white, powder-soft sand and crystal clear turquoise waters are beckoning you. As you recline deeper into your beach lounger, enjoying the warm sand beneath your feet and the calming sounds of the surf, you’ll realize it was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made…But don’t forget to turn the cell phone off!