If you’ve been feeling stressed, today is the perfect day for you. It’s National Relaxation Day, a holiday that invites everyone to take some time for yourself and put aside anything that has been causing stress or anxiety. Celebrated on August 15 every year since 1985, National Relaxation Day was introduced by Sean Moeller, who was only nine years old at the time! He wanted to create a day that was dedicated to stress relief and giving everyone an opportunity to take a collective sigh as we release whatever it is we’ve been holding onto.
The evidence-based mind-body skills we teach promote relaxation and self-care. As we celebrate this year’s Relaxation Day, we want to share five fun facts about relaxation that demonstrate the many benefits that can be derived from slowing down and taking time for self care. This day also provides the opportunity to try out some of mind-body practices that will help you to reach a state of relaxation and peace.
Relaxation boosts your mood.
Stress is a part of life. But sometimes, stress becomes overwhelming or chronic. When our minds focus on something stressful, the body responds, whether we’re thinking about past or future stressors, or actively experiencing a stressor in the moment. Chronic or overwhelming stress drains our energy and affects our mood. Over time, it can contribute to many health conditions, including depression. Simple, practical, relaxation techniques can help address the physiological and psychological impacts of stress. Self-expression techniques, like drawing and writing, allow us to get thoughts and feelings out of our heads and onto paper in a safe way. Creating art can benefit mental health and elevate your mood. Tapping into our creativity can release our playful side and bring a lot of joy. Try making it a group activity to add a social aspect and share this joyful practice with others.
Relaxation can lead to better sleep.
Many of us have experienced the frustration of not being able to fall asleep. Thoughts may be swirling around in our heads causing sleep to become evasive. Luckily, relaxation can help to quiet our minds and prepare us for a good night’s rest. When combined with a consistent sleep schedule, relaxation practices can reduce fatigue and allow us to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and renewed. One technique to try is Soft Belly Breathing. This practice allows you to focus on your breath, calm your sympathetic nervous system and awaken your parasympathetic nervous system, creating a feeling of relaxation in the mind and body. This meditation clears the mind and reduces stress, allowing you to peacefully drift off to sleep.
Movement can promote relaxation.
A common side effect of being stressed, angry, or frustrated is feeling our muscles tighten. We’ve all come home from a particularly stressful day and noticed that our necks, shoulders, and backs feel tight and painful. Taking time to relax has been proven to help release negative emotions and tension. Try our Shaking and Dancing practice to loosen up those muscles and process your emotions. When we allow ourselves to surrender to the rhythm and movement of shaking and dancing, we create a safe space for stress and emotions to be released in a healthy and cathartic way. As we shake off tension and move our bodies freely, we allow stress hormones to dissipate, bringing us to a place of relaxation, balance, and acceptance.
What matters most is what works for you.
The most important lesson to take away is that there is no one right way to relax. Some people may prefer to focus on mindfulness with meditation while others may want to spend time nourishing their bodies with mindful eating. Still others may prefer a more active approach with a movement practice or engage their creative side with self-expression. As long as you feel relaxed, a reduced level of stress, and a sense of enjoyment, you’re doing it right.
Check out the Resources Library to discover even more ways to relax on this year’s National Relaxation Day. Want to explore mind-body skills in a small group environment, led by one of our CMBM-trained facilitators? Find an upcoming group using our Online Skills Group Finder.