Relaxation is an essential part of life. It is a chance for our bodies to recover from the stresses and strains that we put them through daily, especially during the workweek. Slobbing out and doing whatever we feel like is something that our ancestors indulged in, preparing them for the next battle for survival, whenever that came.
The Problem with the modern world, though, is that it bears no resemblance to our ancient heritage. Most people throughout history spent their days collecting food and sitting by the fire in the evening, enjoying the company of their tribe. The pressures of life were different. There was no need to make productive use of every second of the day. It just wasn’t economically beneficial.
In the modern world, that’s not true at all. We try to cram as much work into the week as we can, and we even spend our “spare time” doing something productive, like learning a new skill, going to night school, or exercising. It means that our bodies and brains are continually primed for stress and never get a chance to recover.
Problems With Relaxation Start In Childhood
The roots of our issues with relaxation begin in childhood. Early on in our lives, we’re taught that the only way to get ahead in life is to work hard, knuckle down, and study every day of the week. Kids not only have to go to school all day, but they must also have their relaxation time ruined by endless homework once they get home. The working day for the average secondary school-age child can run from 8 am to 6 pm and beyond during exam season. That’s not right.
On top of that, kids must use their so-called “free time” productively too. Camping trips are all about developing survival skills. Summer school is designed to wreck the holidays with yet more “top-up” numeracy and literacy. And even after all the homework is done, many kids attend clubs where they must continue developing some sort of extra-curricular skill. It is a massive strain on their developing bodies.
Adults Feel Guilty About Relaxing
Kids’ natural instinct is to spend time out just doing whatever feels good from time to time – not spending every hour of the day learning. But as children develop into adults, the psychological dynamic can change. Whereas taking time out to relax was once a pleasure, it now becomes a source of guilt, affecting mental health.
The pressures of childhood teach us all unconsciously that a lack of productivity is a moral crime. We’re taught the lesson that we must be on the go all the time, making use of every second God sends. If we are not, we’re squandering the valuable resources available to us.
You often find this with adults who can’t relax in the evenings and weekends. It’s not because they don’t want to – it’s because they feel guilty if they do.
Relaxing The Parasympathetic Nervous System
The human body is a cyclical machine. Sometimes it benefits from stress, sometimes from relaxation, but rarely a surfeit of both. The modern culture and pressures of work and family, though, mean that many people are continually in a stressed state of mind, unable to switch off. Their parasympathetic nervous system continuously churns out signals that they need to get up and go. It is exhausting and can even lead to things like premature aging.
So what’s the solution? The trick here is to deal with the underlying guilt and give yourself permission to relax and do whatever you want, even if it isn’t “productive.”
Matrix Massage & Spa emphasizes the importance of pampering – the simple act of experiencing pleasant sensations across your body. Often something as simple as a massage can make a massive difference to how the parasympathetic nervous system responds. These types of intervention break the circuit of stress and ensure that people can finally get a deep relief that their biology needs.
Not being able to relax, therefore, isn’t just a figment of your imagination – it’s something deeply baked into how you live your life. The trick to dealing with it seems to be to give yourself permission to close off some time each week from the stress of work or family. Here you ignore all the problems you have to solve for a day or two and just focus on enjoying the experience of being alive. However bad the issues might seem at work on Friday night, they can wait until Monday morning. There’s no need to pay them a minute of your attention on Saturday or Sunday.