What’s the difference between intentional relaxation and non-physical activity? How many of us wait to feel tired before we “slow down?”

What happens if you are one of those parents or partners who simply doesn’t seem able to relax? Perhaps a simple, quick break would be the answer.

We live in a world that likes things quick, so how about this? Take in a deep breath and slowly count to 3, then breathe out to the same count of 3. Do it 2 more times… 3 cubed… 3 x 3 x 3.

You can do this at a red light or even a stop sign (as long as no one is behind you)… perhaps in the shower or bathroom or even at the kitchen sink. Just take a moment for yourself.

Give yourself a time out or plan the time in your day. We all love a long vacation or even a few days to “get out of town.” For many folks, though, this isn’t a possibility.

What can you do to build relaxation into your day? Here is one idea, explore 5 free mindfulness apps to help you to stop and breathe.

Many parents have shared with Monica that they feel they are barely one step away from being totally overwhelmed every day. She asks, “How about taking a few minutes to relax every day?” and their responses range from hysterical laughter to disbelief. They say their days are so packed that there is little room for rest, let alone relaxation. Other than the occasional vacation, they run from morning to night. It’s work, kids, meals, and laundry, and then fall into bed, in order to get up and do it all over again. 

The neurotransmitters in their brains that transmit messages are on constant overload. Adrenaline is flowing and their bodies are in stressful states for much of the day. It is almost impossible to learn when we are on overload, so we need to rest and relax regularly, if we are to be lifelong learners and be present with our children, partners and other important people in our lives. Relaxing doesn’t need to take a LOT of time; you can start small. For some, it can be petting the dog or cat for 10 minutes in the morning; for others it is meditating or reading the sports pages or a chapter of a novel. It can be as simple as consciously taking a pause a few times a day for a deep breath. 

What did you do today to rest and relax?

Pausing During the Day

It’s important to rest and relax every day to keep ourselves in a resourceful state. If we barrel through the day without any pauses, we create a jumble of experiences and information to sort later.

When we sleep at night, our brains process and consolidate the latest information and experiences. Those periodic moments of relaxation during the day allow us to organize our thoughts a bit and have a calmer night. Without them, we restlessly toss and turn as we try to make sense of it all.

Music without little pauses is just a cacophony of sound. The pauses create the rhythm and allow us to enjoy the melody. Likewise, the little pauses in our daily life provide us with a rhythm that allows us to create meaning from the experiences of our day.

A pause can be a way to return to your center. Inhaling and exhaling deep breaths is certainly one way we’ve discussed. Looking at the pictures of your family on your desk, gazing at your kids’ drawings on the fridge, staring up at the full moon at night, or sharing a 20-second hug with a loved one are all examples of other ways to pause during the day.