Overachievers, as a general rule, are very bad at relaxing. Culturally, we are much more comfortable doing the work. Working hard is a capability, it’s a competence, and sometimes it's taken too far. Turns out for many, relaxation is a learned skill. In this post we are going to share the one critical thing you need to know in order to to really relax.
When someone tells me, a constant doer, to relax or that I have to recuperate and rest, I often think, "okay, I'm doing it now." But then I really get into the moment and think "well, this is very awkward for me." It's very uncomfortable. And I don't enjoy it.
Have you experienced anything similar? Relaxation feels lazy and hard. Maybe because your competency in it is zero. You haven't been taught how, never developed the knowledge in it. And it sounds like a strange thing that you would have to be taught to relax, but you absolutely do. You have to learn.
Imagine a pianist playing the piano. Each time she strikes a key with a certain finger, the other fingers must be relaxed so the wrong key isn’t struck at the same time. So, the skill of relaxation is an essential component of playing. If you want to get a little zen about it, you could say that the non-doing is just as important as the doing.
The pianist's skill is an example of differentiated movement – the ability to move one segment of the body while keeping a nearby segment still. Belly dancers have excellent differentiated movement - they can isolate small movements in their torso and hips while keeping other areas still or even moving them in the opposite direction. By contrast, most Americans, tend to move their hips and low back as one big block. This generally leads to poor performance in dancing and is partly caused by insufficient skill in relaxation.
Quick and accurate relaxation is also essential to good sports performance. Take the example of a sprinter. Elite sprinters have an unusual ability to maximally contract their muscles very quickly. But research shows that they are even more unusual in their ability to quickly relax their muscles. Why is the skill of relaxation important to sprinting? The simple reason is that any muscle that contracts to push a sprinter forward will in the next phase of the gait cycle be asked to lengthen. If the muscle is slow to lengthen, it essentially put the brakes on forward movement. Golfers, tennis players, and baseball pitchers would give similar advice about executing maximum power.
Relaxation skill is also important to prevent excess muscular tension in everyday life. A person working at a computer needs to move only his fingers and wrists. However, the stress of the work will often cause unwanted and unnecessary muscle contraction in many other areas, e.g. the shoulders, neck, or jaw. The ability to keep these muscles relaxed while typing is a skill, and can be developed like any other skill.
Despite the importance of relaxation in physical comfort and performance, most people never think to train it, instead favoring exercises that develop the ability to contract muscles. Relaxation however must become second nature in everything you do.
A practice that has helped me improve is to make a list of 10 or 20 things that rejuvenate me. At first, the list was quite generic things, but over time, they become more and more precise - if you pay attention to them. Mine list has things like gardening, yoga, paddle boarding, and listening to the sound of waves roll onto the beach; yours may be skiing, a good nap, or listening to certain music you love. It's a very signature thing that might not be the same for anyone else. But you come up with these building blocks of rest and relaxation. And they work for you uniquely.
Build your rituals for relaxing and recuperating by yourself and with others. Build the competency. And consider adding Shift to improve the speed and depth of your relaxation. Also try certain playlists to help you relax. Here is one we curated specifically for relaxing with Shift D8.
Drop us a mention on Instagram at @shiftedibles and let us know about your tips and tricks to relax or unwind.
Want to up your relaxation game? Get started using the discount code BetterHealth for 20% your order at Shift Edibles.
Note: There are small amounts of variation in our batches and testing may vary between labs. Do not use if pregnant, nursing, or if you have any diagnosed for undiagnosed health conditions. Consult a physician prior to use. Must be 21 years or older to purchase or use. Must be legal in your state or territory to purchase or use. Shift is not responsible for the actions of individuals who take this product. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while using this product. May cause drowsiness. Use could cause you to fail a drug test. May have a delayed effect. Store in a cool place. Keep out of reach of children and pets. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.