Learning to Relax (4)
By: Beth McHugh 2006
As children, we all knew intuitively how to relax. We didn’t need special classes on how to “let go”, or special mind and body routines that would help us to relax. We just did it! So, with that in mind, let’s revisit the typical things we did as a child when we relaxed, and see if we can incorporate some of these natural, basic activities into our everyday lives.
- The Power of Hugs
Every kid instinctively knows the healing power of cuddles and hugs. As adults, we often let this valuable de-stressing tool disappear from our lives. We become too big for a hug. Yet how many T-shirts do we need to see to realize that “Hugs are Healing” and wise up? If you are feeling sad, stressed, or blue, the power of human touch is irreplaceable. Often a simple hand on yours or a gentle rub on the back can work the most amazing and calming magic on a sufferer. Kids know this, so take a tip from your own inner child, and ask for hugs when you need them. They really work!
- Using Daydreams
Watch any young child; they are big fans of daydreaming. You once were too! As often as you can, take a little time out: five minutes is plenty. Gaze out the window and watch the trees. Lie on your back on the grass and watch the clouds form and re-from. Lie on your bed and allow the ceiling to become the playground of your imagination. Daydreaming is a valuable tool to relax the mind and allows your stress levels to diminish over time.
- Taking short naps
Following from daydreams comes the serious business of naps. Again, kids are expert at taking cat-naps which leave them refreshed and ready to cope with the afternoon’s activities. Some adults dislike taking naps, as they report that it leaves them feeling groggy and dopey, yet others swear by them. Winston Churchill was reputed to have carried his heavy burden of responsibility through WWII via the use of catnaps. So, give it a try. You may be one of the lucky ones to benefit from the proverbial forty winks!
Kids love to doodle, it’s fun and a great way to relax. Doodling requires little intellectual input, allowing you to engage the right side of the brain and daydream a little. If you really get keen, drawing and painting are the more sophisticated versions of doodling, yet also help you to let go of the “thinking” left brain and access that “feeling” right brain. Any kid will tell you drawing is fun. Give it try. You have nothing to lose but stress!
- Pets: the best psychotherapy in town
Most kids instinctively love pets. Why not let your inner child re-live the sheer fun (and relaxing!) experience of playing with your pet. If you already own a pet, make time every day to exercise with your pet, or just simply stroke and talk to your animal friend. There are no end of studies documenting the positive mental attributes of interacting with animals, from lowering blood pressure to easing depression and anxiety. Pets can play an enormous role in our lives from childhood right through to old age, where they are often invaluable companions. So take a tip from your inner child, and experience the sheer joy of pet power!