When I feel stressed out, over-worked and basically like there is nothing left in the tank, my first instinct it to say out loud “I need to go to the spa.” I’ve never even been to a spa. Well, that is a bit of a fib. I did go once. I had a pedicure with my mum about 12 years ago and the lady at my feet sliced a big hole into the bottom of my heel. There was blood everywhere. Ironically, I felt nothing because my foot was more like a hardy leather boot from not wearing shoes all summer. As I left the “spa”, the lady asked me if I’d had a Tetanus shot recently. I swear, I’m not making this up. So, basically I cringed, went home, dipped my feet in raw garlic for an hour, and continued to fantasize about what a real spa would be like someday.
If you are feeling exhausted, stressed and anxious, then your first reaction may be that you need to just RELAX. Or perhaps (and this is my personal favourite) someone has told you to take it easy. Images of warm, sandy beaches and bright blue water have probably made their way to your minds’ eye at some point. But with rising costs, and difficulty getting time off coupled with managing the kids, taking a sun-soaked holiday may not be an option. What then? How about just taking a whole afternoon to chill out in the back garden with a few glasses of something strong and cold? Heaven
Even something as simple as taking a day off at the weekend can be a challenge no matter where you are on the wheel of life. Time is a precious commodity these days. And to dwindle away the day, relaxing, can actually feel stressy after five or ten minutes. For me, this is certainly the case. But it turns out that this may not be the best way to unwind after all.
A randomized study funded by the University of South Australia says that sitting around doing nothing may not be the best way to RELAX. Participants took part in one-hour, weekly sessions of relaxation or Hatha Yoga for ten weeks. The objective was to compare the two modalities to determine if either reduced the subjects’ stress, anxiety, blood pressure or simply improved their quality of life.
131 subjects with mild to moderate levels of stress were recruited from the South Australia community, and guess what? After results from the study were analysed, it emerged that Yoga was more effective than relaxation in improving mental health. In the 6-week follow up, participants showed higher scores in vitality, social function and lower scores in anxiety and stress.
What do you do to relax? Would you try yoga for an hour each week?
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