Friday Fit Five
Five Healthy Ways to Relax
“Relax: re·lax (rəˈlaks/) v. make or become less tense or anxious.” Being tense and anxious can make you worried, uneasy, irritable, exhausted and even susceptible to illness, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, gastrointestinal ailments and depression. And, as we all know, being a lawyer is stressful and can make you unhappy.
So, We Must Learn to Relax
Clearly, relaxation is good for you. The benefits of lessening tension and anxiety are enormous. It makes you think more clearly, work more efficiently, handle stress better, and live as a nicer, happier and healthier person. Of course, a two-week vacation with no responsibilities and no calls from the office would be great. But be serious, that in itself would be stressful. What would be happening back at the office?!? A better idea is finding ways to relax, to rejuvenate both mind and body, with small amounts of time.
Here are five ways to take a “mini-vacation” with minimal time.
1. Meditation and yoga. Meditation and yoga allow you to control your mind and your thoughts, especially when you can’t control the other things happening in life. It helps relax your mind and body by focusing your thoughts on your breath during the practice and lowering the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. Ideally, you’d practice meditation and yoga every morning. Meditation can be easy to incorporate into your daily routine if you begin with breathing meditations, where you sit quietly and focus on your breath. Start with as little as two or three minutes a day. Or, if your mind tends to wander, try guided meditations where you are “talked” through the meditation so you can focus only on what the speaker is saying. Daily yoga may be more difficult to incorporate, so make it a weekly goal. If you can’t make it to a class, use an app such as Pocket Yoga. And if you only have five or 10 minutes, do a short series of sun salutations with focused breathing. You can search YouTube to learn sun salutations.
2. Music. Music has a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, affecting our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. Slow and quiet classical music is proven to provide these benefits, but find what works best for you. Listen during your commute or your yoga or meditation practice. You can also play relaxing music softly in the background in your office.
3. Nature. Being in your office, constantly focusing on client needs, can make you mentally exhausted. Luckily, nature will give your brain a break from everyday overstimulation. Go for a walk in the park, take a hike on the weekend, share a kayak with a loved one on a quiet lake, have a picnic dinner date rather than going to a restaurant. Really pay attention to your surroundings and soak them in.
4. Hobbies. Focusing energy on an enjoyable activity relaxes and rejuvenates the mind. Depending on your choice of activity, it can provide quiet peacefulness or much-needed social interaction. Think back to the things you enjoyed before you had so many responsibilities and time constraints, and do those things again. Whether it be painting, playing guitar, bird-watching, or shooting hoops with friends, schedule it into your monthly calendar and keep the appointment with yourself.
5. Massage and other body work. Hands-on treatments for de-stressing are some of the oldest forms of relaxation and wellness. These techniques, which include massage, acupuncture and reiki, increase circulation and move stagnant energy out of the body to release toxins and create calm in the muscles and mind. Find a practitioner in your area and schedule a monthly appointment. Treat it like an important client meeting (with you as the client). For quick relaxation, a chair massage at a nearby salon can do wonders.
Jamie Spannhake is a lawyer, mediator and certified health coach. She is a partner at Berlandi Nussbaum & Reitzas LLP, serving clients in New York and Connecticut, practicing in the areas of commercial litigation, estate planning, residential and commercial real estate, and business transactions. She writes and speaks on issues of interest to lawyers, including time and stress management, health and wellness, work-life balance, and effective legal writing.
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