Are You Relaxing the "Right Way"? 3 Steps for a Relaxation Reboot

If you’re losing sleep over journaling or stressing about making time for a hike, you may be relaxing all wrong. Jordana Harshman, Wellness Manager and Certified Wellness Coach at Stanford Children’s Health, says relaxation is about “giving your mind and body a break to restore your energy, support your cognitive function and regulate your mood." That means everyone’s approach to relaxation can be different, and it may change throughout your life.

Need help cutting through all the self-care noise? Here are three tips to help you craft a relaxation plan that actually helps you recharge.

#1 Balance Your Energy

woman in yoga pose smiling in front of the pool

At the risk of sounding woo-woo, have you considered doing an energy audit?

When deciding how to budget your time, ask yourself whether an activity drains you, energizes you, or lands somewhere in the middle. Much like you want to avoid a negative balance in your bank account, you also want to keep your energy levels in the black. There will always be obligations that you’d rather skip—taxes, anyone?—but scheduling something fun to offset a dreaded task can help you feel happier.

"As for a fun break from work and kids, I enjoy boxing. It started from cardio kickboxing to working with a personal trainer and now I’m sparring and training,” says Kathy Kamfirouzi, National Account Manager for Alastin.

#2 Make It Personal

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer on what counts as downtime. One person may need to turn off screens and take a solo walk in the woods, while someone else might thrive on connection with friends or family.

For Tam Lamarre, RN at SkinSpirit’s New York location, relaxation starts with proximity to water, whether it’s a hot shower or a walk by a lake. “The sight and feel of water has a way of quieting the mind, while energizing and uplifting the spirit" she says.

It doesn’t matter if magazines or social media describe an activity as “self care” it only matters that it works for you. If the bubble bath on your to-do list feels more like a chore than a treat, it’s not helping you recharge. This is most definitely a judgement-free zone!

Michelle Jones, RN of SkinSpirit in Burlingame, CA says, "I love art and the process of making art as it is a form of mediation for me. In an industry that is full of precision having an outlet that is messy is rewarding. Meditation takes on many forms, art is my form."

#3 Sleep Comes First

Sleep is fuel for everything on your to-do list. It’s a necessity, but most of us treat it as a luxury… and skimp on it to boost productivity. In reality, the opposite is true: Sleep deprivation is associated with burnout and poor health outcomes. To be a great partner, parent, friend, or employee, you need to catch those z’s.

Life should be more than just work and errands; people need space for rest, growth, and fun. “Prioritizing a never-ending list of tasks can become a default mode that interferes with relaxation and the enjoyment of life,” Hashman warned.

Just like physical rest is critical for recovery, your mind needs rest, too. Even when you have a good life and a job you love, relaxation is crucial for keeping yourself on track.

Keep reading for more of Jordana Harshman’s tips on recharging.

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