It’s taken me a long time to learn a simple lesson. A looooooong time.
I used to fervently believe that if something wasn’t going right in my life that it was because I wasn’t working hard enough to keep it under control.
So, if I had put on weight, this was a failing to keep my appetite under control.
If I wasn’t getting the jobs I really wanted, well, I wasn’t trying hard enough to sell myself….or to believe in my abilities. (Or I just needed to get better abilities!)
If my relationships weren’t going well, I needed to try, try harder and work, work at them till it all went smoothly. I needed to pacify everyone and keep giving more until everything calmed down and I could exhale.
It was all up to me….and I had to Hold. Everything. Together.
And that mythical time when everything would be fine and I could rest and enjoy the fruits of my labour? It never came – of course! (There is never an end in sight when it is all up to you!)
Our Obsession With Stress
And I wasn’t alone.
Our obsession with pushing our way through life is leaving us all in a state of chronic stress…with all the issues that go along with that.
Relaxation is the essential secret to good health…but relaxation is now close to being a revolutionary act! It’s crazy, but it’s true. We’ve seen what gets respect in our society and it’s not rest, it’s not softness and it’s not care.
And we women have expectations coming at us from all angles – expectations that force us away from looking after our own needs but instead ignoring them in favour of meeting others’ wishes.
- We’re expected to push and achieve and climb the career ladder.
- But then return from that high stress environment and still keep our own needs buried as we look after children and spouses and other family members in need of care or support.
- And let’s not forget about the third shift of body maintenance, when we police our bodies and primp, wax, diet and dye them into something acceptable for the outside world. This treating of our bodies as something to be kept under strict control for the viewing of others again puts our own true needs to the back of the queue.
So we get respect for forgetting our own desires in most areas of our lives.
But where in amongst all of this work is the time for rest? The time for self-reflection and self-care?
Many women today are living lives where their days and nights are so scheduled that they have nothing for themselves. And then this shows up in many ways:
- Teariness and Irritability
- Low mood
- Feeling frazzled and overwhelmed
- Resentment that no one seems to care about our needs
- Hormone Imbalances
- Digestive Upset
- Low Immune System – easily get infections and colds
- Weight Gain
- Skin problems like acne and eczema
What Happens When We Instead Let Go?
But now I know something different is true. (And to understand this, it took losing many of the most important things in my life.)
Creating health, happiness and success is not about pushing and controlling. But rather about letting it all just be.
This doesn’t mean you never change anything. But before you can shake things up, you first need to accept and relax into what is. This allows you to see your situation from a place of clarity.
How Do You React to a Challenge?
If you’ve ever done yoga, you will know this lesson. In a challenging pose, your first reaction might be to say, “Oh, I can’t do this – it’s too hard” and give up. Or you could instead think, “That’s it, body – I’m going to MAKE you do this, whether you like it or not!”
But the more you resist it, or the more you force it, the longer it will take to achieve it. What actually works is softening and relaxing into the difficulty. Breathing and accepting.
And the more we soften and relax, even when it’s hard, the more the body will trust us and let go. And without too much ‘work’, we end up holding poses we never would have thought possible.
And so it goes with all our challenges.
When we relax into the frustration, the pain, the confusion, we see how it can be transformed.
Why Relaxation is the Essential Secret to Good Health
The stress response is a disaster for our bodies and minds.
You’ve probably heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. When our lives are constantly go, go, go – dealing with one problem after another, or even dealing with one person’s needs after another – this puts a significant stress on our system.
Our bodies respond to stress by pumping out stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, increasing our heart rate and blood pressure, slowing digestion and lowering immunity. The body is in emergency response mode.
But in the modern world, many of us are living in this emergency mode day after day and year after year.
We need to have balance in our lives: for every stressful time we go through, we need to have equal amounts of relaxation. Because the body is actually designed to function at its best in a relaxed state.
For the many hours we spend looking after other people, we need to at least have some time when we look after only ourselves.
When we actively relax, we turn off the stress response in our bodies and instead switch on the parasympathetic system.
When I first tried a deep relaxation during a meditation course, I couldn’t believe the effects! I didn’t even know it was possible to feel this relaxed. I was even a little high on the effects of how good it feels to have let go of all the tension I was carrying around (that I hadn’t even realised!)
Over time, I have noticed that regular deep relaxation has lead to a quiet contentment. No matter what is going on in my life, I know I can now easily switch into this place of deep peace and calm within me. And that means life is a very different experience for me now to when I was constantly running on anxiety and worry.
Other effects you can expect with relaxation:
- Greatly improved sleep
- Better immunity and resistance to viruses and infection
- Better digestion
- More energy
- Greater levels of happiness and wellbeing
Why don’t you give it a try for free today (and every day!)?
Download my 20-minute deep relaxation meditation and listen to it at the end of the day to calm your mind, allow your body to heal and enjoy a deep sleep.
Let me know how you enjoy it!