How To Relax And Why It’s So Important

relaxationImage courtesy of markus941

Liz and I went to our second of six birthing classes last night (in preparation for our little boy).  I was reluctant at first, figuring we’d spend the whole time doing that awkward breathing thing, but ever since last weeks initial class, I’ve been enjoying the learning process.  I think all the guys are actually feeling like it’s worthwhile and the women are thinking, “You BET it’s worthwhile!  I’m going to need you to step it up and help me get this baby out of me!”  (At least that’s what Liz says. :-) )

Last night we learned something that really stuck with me.  This is something that seems to apply to all of life.  It was about contractions and the different techniques to getting through them and still sustaining energy until the very end.  We talked about how to time them and determine when the woman will be able to relax and when she will be struggling with the pain.

Then the teacher started pressing on one specific point that she wanted us all to remember and take very seriously.  She explained how there will be a point where ‘mom’ only has between 30 and 60 seconds to relax between the potentially agonizing contractions.  She talked about how we naturally want to sulk about how painful the last contraction was while we have our seconds of reprieve.  How we naturally think, “MAN, that was painful!  I don’t know if I can do that again!  Oh no, here they come again…”

She said that instead of wasting this time complaining about the pain that we just experienced and then worrying about what’s ahead, that we should utilize this precious rest time to focus on our breathing and work on bringing our bodies to a relaxed state once again.  As she further explained, it made perfect sense that if the woman never lets herself experience rest between the contractions, she will be completely exhausted by the time she gets to the crucial pushing stage.

Such is life…

Life is just like this.  There is inevitable pain and suffering wherever we turn.  Our pasts are filled with sorrow and our futures bare the brunt of this broken world, leaving us anxious as we wind around the next bend.  Yet, there is much beauty and many wonderful things to enjoy in our lives.  There are so many opportunities to love those around us, enjoy a sunny day and strive to accomplish great things.  It is an impossible paradox to part from.

The fact is, there will also be times when we will need our strength.  Times when our families are counting on us to pull through.  Our own bodies need us to be strong and fight off the temptations of laziness and self pity.  It is absolutely crucial that we maintain our solid footing as we make our way through the ever changing seasons of our lives.

Relaxing is a skill

I am amazed at how many techniques there are to get our minds and bodies to relax.  Tapping into the power of our senses and utilizing sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and thought, we are able to recharge ourselves to prepare for the coming storm.

5 simple tips to help you relax in the moment:

  1. Breathe. Such a simple human habit and yet, if done properly, can quickly bring our blood pressure back down to its optimal state.  Deep breaths in through the nose  and slow, sustained breathes out through the mouth.  Focused, proper breathing techniques are tops on my list of ways to relax.
  2. Let go. Often easier said than done, letting go of whatever is bothering us is an essential ability we all need to master.  Whether we’ve been hurt by someone or are just having a bad day, let go of that bad feeling and look ahead.  The past is in the past, but the present and the future have yet to be established.
  3. Get out! Get outside and get your blood pumping.  Whether for a light stroll or a vigorous run, just GET OUT!  The change of scenery, fresh air and physical activity will almost always leave you more relaxed and better prepared to take on the stresses of life.
  4. Read a good book. I hear this advise less and less and I’m guilty of rarely partaking in its beneficial process, but sitting down and reading a book that will take you away to a different world is a very effective way to fend off the frustrations of life.
  5. Outward focus. Sometimes we can get caught up in ourselves to the point of poisoning our perspectives.  We can become obsessed about what we do or don’t have or what did or didn’t happen to us.  Take a break from this.  Focus your attention on someone else and look for opportunities to show that you care.  Sometimes the best way to help ourselves is to help another in need.

All too often we fail to accomplish this most basic state of mind.  Our worries about all things past and future, keep us from relaxing in the present.  If we can master this ability and truly take advantage of our time between bouts of life, we can be assured that it will never be too much.  But let our minds absorb the poison of ‘why’ and ‘what if’ and we will most certainly succumb to the berating blows of our darkest days.

Comments

  1. says

    Reading a great book is one of my favorite ways to relax. Especially when its a nice day… I like to pull my recliner up in front of my ceiling to floor window and just read under my two large Corn Plants. It’s a little surreal.

    This type of relaxation is especially important for writers because it allows us to recollect our thoughts and create new and unique ideas. I am looking forward to hearing how other people relax…

    Derek, Viral Twitter Tips’s last blog post..How You Can Go Viral On Twitter — Just Like I Did

    • says

      Yep, 1st one. I’m a bit nervous, but super excited at the same time. Liz is working on the baby room as I type these words. Preparing for the storm, we are. :-) Eric

  2. says

    Good relaxation tips, Eric, and I know I should probably practice every one of them.

    But this is a comment to Liz, from a mom to a mom-to-be.

    Liz, all that breathing and relaxation stuff is great, but it can’t compare with the drugs. Ask (or beg, cry, and scream, if necessary) for the epidural. Don’t be a hero. When you’re not in pain, you’ll enjoy the experience a whole lot more. And baby will be just fine.

    • says

      Thanks, Susan!

      As far as the epidural goes, Liz is set on going ALL natural. Not because she’s worried about the baby, but because she wants to experience the whole whole thing, pain and all. She’s fully open to asking for an epidural if she can’t take the pain, but she really wants to give it a shot, drug free. Eric

  3. says

    Congrats on the baby! And good luck to your wife going all natural. I wanted to as well, until I realized contractions are something no one can prepare you for or describe. That’s all I’ll say. Wow! Are you considering hiring a doula for support? I recommend it.

    I really agree with #2 on your list. Letting go is a choice. Difficult as it may be, I’ve had to forgive and let go of some doozies. And It’s so freeing, thus allowing me to relax immensely!

    Andrea Owen’s last blog post..I’m going to be interviewed!

    • says

      Thanks! Yeah, we’ll see how she fares, but I know she’s a bit anxious as well as excited.

      I totally agree with your point about letting go. I think it’s also good to learn to forgive OURSELVES. I was just thinking about this. We often harbor negative thoughts about ourselves that keep us from having peace of mind and a positive mindset. Thanks for sharing, by the way. Eric

  4. says

    Great point, Eric!

    Congratulations on your first kid – I wish you many amazing and happy moments to savor with time!

    It’s quite true that relaxing is a skill, but you have to know the perfect timing to relax. Having the will to enjoy a nice peaceful moment and knowing when and how to can result in the perfect relaxation :)

    Dimitar Nikolov’s last blog post..Quitting Bad Habits Successfully

  5. says

    Wonderful post! Please tell Liz I went the drug free, home birth route in my late thirties, so if she needs any reassurance, support etc, please drop me an email. Both births were completely different, so whatever happens, have no guilt or sadness about any plans you might have to change at the last minute. We had a hospital close by and the best midwives in the county right there in our house, but the feeling of natural power was amazing. I just found that rhythm you mentioned in your post, went with the ebbs and flows like I was the sea and kept reminding myself to trust the process and breathe with the pain that’s making the whole birth possible. You need physical, spiritual and emotional rest to be able to work well, but without hard work and job satisfaction you don’t fully appreciate the rest and holidays in between!

    • says

      Hey Janice! Thanks for the encouragement. Liz is sticking to her guns on this one. She knows she’s got a battle ahead, but wants to experience it as naturally as possible.

      And great points about job satisfaction. That’s the fuel we feed on to stay motivated in our work, no doubt! Eric

  6. says

    It seems we’re in the same place. I’ve just wrote a post on relaxing from a different angle and just entered the 3rd trimester of my 1st pregnancy. Exciting times ay?

    There’s is so much happening that deepening my ability to relaxa is the only way through it. This topic has been VERY important to me lately and I’m sure will be for a while.

    Thanks for the post

    Lola Fayemi / Nourishment ……’s last blog post..The being of relaxation

  7. says

    Relaxing — something I have a very hard time with — is so important, especially in our fast-paced, stress-inducing world. One technique that I have tried before (and that has worked pretty well) is breathing. Taking deep breaths really encourages mindfulness and, for whatever reason, can really relax you.

    Positively Present’s last blog post..have the courage to be happy

  8. says

    Eric,

    Congratulations on the new arrival. The experience will enhance your life greatly if you take the time to reflect and enjoy it.

    Exercise is my most effective form of relaxation. Not so much while I am working my tail off, but the serenity that follows. I also agree that relaxed breathing is one the of the best ways to “reset” our mind and body.

    Again, good luck!

    Jake | Revive Your Life’s last blog post..Making Smart Organic Food Choices

    • says

      Thanks! We’re super excited!

      Yep, exercise is so important. When I go too long without it I get restless and certainly can’t effectively recharge my batteries. Eric

  9. says

    You’re almost there… Yes, breathing is uber important in delivery and in life. I agree with Susan. Cindy is the toughest person I know and was set herself, but when it came time for the epidural she accepted (with only a few seconds to spare from the cutoff point). Either way you’ll need to learn proper breathing far past that first cry!

    Writer Dad’s last blog post..The Other Side of the Dashboard

  10. says

    Congratulations on the baby! I think it’s great that you’re going with Liz to the sessions. It’s so true that being able to relax is a skill, it’s something we are all born with, but somewhere along the way we tend to lose it.

    I know I need to get out more, and meditate. That really helps me!

    Nathalie Lussier’s last blog post..Is Raw Food Contagious?

    • says

      Thanks!

      Yeah, for some reason we lose that skill along the way. It’s only those who regain this crucial ability that are able to bare the stresses of life and still stay optimistic. You know what I mean? Eric

    • says

      Good point about nature. Being in the woods or in the mountains (or beach as you mentioned) really helps me recharge my batteries.

      And thanks for the best wishes. Eric

    • says

      Thanks Stephen. I thought so too. :-)

      I couldn’t get the idea out of my head from the second I left that class. The parallel with life seemed to obvious. Thanks for seconding the point. Eric

  11. says

    It seems many of you are more interested in the fact that we’re having a baby than you are of the relaxing part. :-D I guess it just shows how much of an impact having a baby has on our lives.

    If any of you never read my post about our little boy on the way, here it is:

    It’s A Boy!

  12. says

    Eric,

    I am the worst at relaxing. I always feel I should be productive. I push hard for goals..which is good, but I’m terrible at stopping to smell the roses. I need to develop the “skill of relaxing” like you describe here. I am completely lacking this skill. I like the idea of focusing on others. I am always running through my “to do” list in my head…need to quit that.

    I run a high traffic fitness blog, but like to read the motivational blogs during my spare time…especially the ones like yours that stress “balance”.

    Cheers,

    Rusty

    Rusty – Fitness Black Book’s last blog post..Workout Intensity and Fat Loss – Hitting the Sweet Spot

    • says

      We sound VERY similar! :-) I’m ALWAYS going through ‘the next step’ in my head which really keeps me from taking a break and enjoying the moment.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Eric

  13. says

    In that case, Liz is a much stronger woman than me. Drugs or ALL natural, I wish her and you the very best.

    BTW, when do we get to have the Name-the-Baby contest on your blog, Eric? :)

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