The Art Of Relaxation

One of the most common reasons my clients come to me is for relief from the stresses of everyday life.

Stress is not actually an external force working against us, but rather it is an internal response to an external stimulus. People need a certain level of stress in order to survive, but extreme levels of stress can be detrimental to our health. Many health professionals believe that stress is a relating or contributing factor in up to 75% of all illness and disease.

By learning to manage our reaction to changes, we can reduce our stress levels, which will lead to improved health as our bodies function with greater efficiency. Learning to relax, or making time to relax, is therefore a very important factor in keeping healthy.

Everyone relaxes in a different way, and what works for one person won't help the next. Some people work in the garden, some read a book, others use physical activity such as golf, aerobics, or cycling.

Massage is a popular way to relax and de-stress, whether it is self-massage or going to a therapist for a treatment. Not only does massage relax and ease tensions in the body, it also helps relax and calm the mind. This aspect is further increased by the use of certain essential oils in an aromatherapy massage. Ask your therapist about including a facial and scalp massage in your treatment, to help release the tightness many of us hold in our heads when stressed.

A general reflexology treatment also aids the relaxation process through working on each of the reflexes in the feet, stimulating the entire body. Try massaging your own feet to see how relaxing it can be.

If you are going through a period of extreme stress, take a supplement of the B-complex vitamins, as your body's need for these increases during such times.

Don't forget to take time out for yourself. A healthy well-balanced person is better able to react to and cope with a "stressful" incident than a person who is feeling the burden of everyday life.

The Guardian, February 25 1999