Relaxation is important to both physical and mental health. Mental relaxation benefits not just your mind but also your body.
Stress is part of life; it is almost impossible to avoid stress. In fact, attempting to avoid stress is enough to create stress. Stress is what you experience emotionally and internally in response to a given situation with which you are incapable of coping. However, stress, ironically enough, may also be beneficial in that it teaches you about how to handle difficult situations in life. Learning to deal with demands in life keeps your mentally healthy, just as exercise keeps you physically fit.
Stress is related to your feelings, which signal that “something is not in order.” Stress, therefore, requires expression of these emotions in an appropriate way – in the form of mental relaxation.
Mental relaxation is possible only when you have a plan for a balanced lifestyle, including regular bedtime, even on weekends and holidays. The reason is that your body’s biological clock plays an important role in regulating your sleep patterns, which are critical to your mental well-being. Plan your daily routine and pace your life.
Take full responsibility for you own stress. This is the key to managing stress in your life. Never say, “You give me stress!” Nobody gives you stress but yourself. You are responsible for your own feelings. Otherwise, you would be passing the responsibility to others – that does not work in real life.
Change your attitudes and perceptions of what you experience in your life. Events that happen to you remain the same, but your perceptions may vary. Change your attitudes and perceptions to change the way you think about your experiences. Learn to laugh at others as well as at yourself. According to studies, children laugh 40 to 50 times a day, and that is why they are happy; adults, on the other hand, laugh only 10 to 15 times at the most. Do not take life too seriously, develop and nurture a sense of humor, which is a component of mental relaxation.
Enhance your physical capabilities to cope with difficulties encountered. These capabilities include physical fitness, good nutrition, and deep sleep without sleeping aids.
Change the environment that gives you stress. If your job gives you stress, change the job or take a vacation to de-stress yourself, although this may be a passive way of dealing with your stress.
Life is full of problems. Understanding yourself and the things that trouble you most is an important step in solving your life’s problems, thereby eliminating much of the stress. Your mental health is determined by the way you work with and relate to others. In other words, you may have behavioral problems that create stress for you at work and in relationships. Isolating yourself in order to avoid these behavioral problems only makes you more difficult to enjoy good mental health.
To deal with any behavioral problem, you must learn how to communicate easily and clearly with others. You must be a good listener. You must be assertive without being critical or aggressive. You must learn to trust others, and see the good, instead of the bad, in others.
Eliminating stress is not equivalent to producing mental relaxation. To help your mind relax, you need to give it “a break.” When you are asleep, your mind remains very active and does not “rest.” When you are awake, your mind is preoccupied with mostly past and future thoughts. Nearly all your thoughts, including your desires and fears, are based on either the past or the future. Your desires are no more than recollection of the past pleasure and hope of repeating them in the future. Fears are also memories of past pain, and your desire to avoid them in the future. To give your mind the rest it rightfully deserves, help your mind focus on the present moment. Meditation does just that: it enables your mind to focus only on the present moment to the exclusion of past and future thoughts.
In meditation, you focus on your breathing, noticing your inhalation and exhalation, directing your mind to the present, thereby shutting off wandering thoughts of the past and future. In meditation, you are essentially giving your mind a period of relaxation. There is no other way as effective as meditation in giving your mind total relaxation. Modern medicine is beginning to use meditation to cure mental disorders because it works at your subconscious level. In Buddhist meditation, you experience “nirvana” only through meditation, in which you empty your mind of impure thoughts to arrive at a mental state of enlightenment.
Meditation, in conjunction with self-effort in changing attitudes and lifestyle, provides the best mental relaxation for your mental health.
Copyright (c) 2007 Stephen Lau