If relaxation to you means netflix and wine – you are not alone.
The problem is, it feels relaxing at first but its not really true relaxation.
Wine or any other substance you ingest is altering your nervous system and it does work at first. You take that drink after work and it feels like ‘ahhh’ (it’s depressing your nervous system) It also marks the transition from working to not working. But is it sustainable or always healthy? Shouldn’t we have other strategies we can turn to?
The same goes for watching TV or any kind of media. It seems relaxing (although i’m aware the phrase ‘netflix and chill’ means something entirely different than actually chilling) but it is kind of numbing and distracting too. If you are engaged in the drama and the story of what you are watching, you are taking the emotional ride with that story. Even a sedate show like “Downton Abby” had me emotionally invested. I worried about Lady Mary after her first husband died!
So what does true relaxation look like?
It requires your attention. Your participation. It requires time and space. It requires spending time with yourself. And, if you want to be healthy, it is essential.
With healthy vagal tone we also make healthier long term decisions about our health. We become part of a positive feedback loop in healthy relationships. We see the big picture and respond rather than react.
Its not the stress your life that is harmful, its the way you respond to it.
I wrote here a quick overview of role an function of your vagus nerve and its importance in your health.
Many of us might need a vigorous practice that moves our body and breath a lot before we settle into a relaxation practice. This is normal.
If you take the time to do some yin or restorative yoga in addition to the strength and more rigorous practices in yoga – they will both be compounded.
The mind has an intelligence and the body has an intelligence – who is in charge?
It seems you are not only your body but you are not your thoughts or your brain either.