Relaxation 101: The Benefits of Healthy Relaxation

For many, relaxation is one of the great joys of life. Whether that means basking in the sun with your favorite book, playing video games with friends, or listening to music on a walk, everybody engages in activities that make them feel good and help them recharge. Relaxation is not only fun, but good for your mental and physical health.  


Why Is Relaxation Important? Is There Such Thing as Too Much?  

Relaxation is a necessary component of everyone's life as it allows the brain to rest and recharge. Everybody needs a break from their day, but studies have shown that there is a fine line between healthy, beneficial relaxation and too much relaxation which can actually cause depression and “detract” from one’s sense of self-purpose.  

A study conducted by the International Journal of Health Systems evaluated the effectiveness of relaxation techniques to relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety in a group of more than 8,000 participants ranging from 14-24 years old. 95 percent of the study’s participants reported improved feelings of stress, sadness, and anxiety after using these techniques.  

On the other hand, a study conducted by the University of Cincinnati and Baylor University found that people who relaxed too often or had too much free time, not only made materialistic purchases to feel happy, but felt less of a sense of purpose, ultimately resulting in more sadness than those who engaged in healthy relaxation techniques.  

Mental Benefits 

According to sources such as Advent Health, The Mayo Clinic, and North Shore University Health System, relaxation can benefit your brain in the following ways:  

  • Decreases stress 
  • Improves concentration 
  • Increases energy 
  • Decrease in sadness, anxiety, anger 
  • Increase in calmness, confidence, motivation 


Physical Benefits 

According to the same sources above, relaxation can also provide the following physical benefits:  

  • Decreased heart rate and blood pressure 
  • Relaxed muscles 
  • Reduction of chronic pain and inflammation  
  • Improved blood flow  
  • Lowers risk of stroke 
  • Boosts immune system


Healthy vs Unhealthy Relaxation 

As the same with everything, relaxation is good in moderation. In addition, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to engage in relaxation. So, what’s the right amount of time to relax for? Experts recommend four to five hours of downtime daily.  

Some examples of healthy relaxation methods include mindfulness techniques like meditation and deep breathing, reading a book or watching TV, exercising or going for a walk, or taking a nap. Unhealthy relaxation techniques involve activities that artificially raise serotonin levels in the brain such as drugs or alcohol or binging unhealthy foods. These activities can actually leave you feeling more strung out and sadder than before you engaged in them. 

Just remember, everybody finds different activities to be relaxing, so find what works for you and go recharge!  


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