According to the International Stress Management Association, an estimated 1.2 million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, down from 1.3 million in 2009/10. Of these, 500,000 were new illnesses occurring in-year.
These are staggering statistics. People are putting in far more hours at work. According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK work the 3rd longest hours in Europe completing a total of 42.7 hours per week (Austria & Greece follow averaging 43.7 hours per week). The responsibility of juggling work with home, family, friends and a social life can lead to unnecessary pressure and a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Stress arises when individuals perceive that they cannot adequately cope with the demands being made on them or with threats to their well-being. R.S. Lazarus (1966). ‘Psychological stress and the coping process’, New York: McGraw-Hill.
With extended working hours, and life’s pressures, when do we find time to relax and just enjoy a moment? With commuting, mobile phones, the internet and reality TV, when do you give yourself space to just close your eyes and relax?
Chances are, you don’t find that time. Many people say they relax whilst watching TV, but your emotions are often involved in this perceived ‘relaxing’ past-time.
In order to relax, you don’t have to spend an hour or two. Fifteen minutes will often do and is the equivalent to taking a short nap. If you can set aside 15 minutes as soon as you get in from work, or after you’ve eaten, then take this time for yourself.
Find a quiet place to relax. Tell everyone you are ‘unavailable’ for the next 15 minutes. Use headphones and listen to relaxing music such as nature sounds (ocean, birds) or orchestral music. Many different CDs are on the market to help. Close your eyes and begin taking a few deep breaths. Soon you will find yourself drifting off.
If you are in a creative job, you will find this relaxation session extremely useful. Many artists, writers, musicians and performers rely on this relaxation technique to spark inspiration, new ideas and the energy to see projects to completion.
Relaxation is a proven technique that can help you to manage stress. The NHS now provides relaxation sessions for staff which include alternative therapies such as aromatherapy message, Indian head message, and spiritual healing. Amazing!
There are many benefits to learning relaxation. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following:
The benefits of relaxation techniques
When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks or the demands of an illness, relaxation techniques may take a back seat in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.
Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving concentration
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
As stress is at an all time high due to the increasing feeling of lack of security as jobs change, I made a series of CD’s (or mp3) to help people to work with learning how to relax. The CD ‘Give Me Relaxation’ focuses on learning how to breathe and focus on your body relaxing. I also take you on a journey of self discovery which helps you to build incentive to practice relaxation daily.
If you’d like some basic techniques, go to the Presentation article here and follow the simple techniques that are outlined.