In short, life 50 years ago was more relaxed. Humans were not constantly running from one thing to another, and even if we were, we knew when to rest and we were better at resting uninterrupted.
So why are we not able to rest and easily unwind anymore?
One of the reasons people are unable to unwind at the end of the day is because we’ve spent the whole day in our heads. We sit at our desks, solving complex problems, and interacting with multiple human personalities. We have forgotten that there is something below our head – our body.
Even when we exercise or move our bodies during the day, this movement is an automated response accompanied by constant chatter in our head. The focus is always on the long list of things we have to do and to finish them as fast as possible. People rarely pause in between each task, even for a minute to take a breath and recharge.
CAN YOU RELATE TO THIS?
This has become so common that we have started to believe it as the new normal.
So what is exactly happening in your body?
To put it another way, there is too much of an overload on the nervous system due to stress, and this makes it easier to be in our head rather than our body.
Of course, there can be complicated reasons for this on top of a stressful day at work. Trauma, or suppressed emotions from the past which have not been addressed, can make it easier to think than feel. I will address these issues in a separate article.
1) Transitioning from work is easier at the end of the day
Most working women struggle with leaving work related stress at work when they transition into home tasks. This starts to impact their ability to relax and let go after a long day.
This is an issue pretty much all of my clients have experienced.
Incorporating ways to connect with the body during the day can make unwinding easier after work. Some examples that work for me are taking short walks (preferably at the park or in nature), stretching or light yoga. Many people also find Tai-chi beneficial. There are plenty of free YouTube clips to get you started.
The type of gentle exercise you do is entirely up to you and what suits your individual circumstances and body. Once you start to incorporate 15 minutes of body exercise or movements into our day, you start to slowly re-establish that broken connection with your body.
Over time, as your daily exercises become a habit as natural as cleaning your teeth, the connection with your body grows stronger. So, at the end of a long workday when you have been operating more from your head, you can unwind easily as you know what it feels like to be in your body. Of course, this takes time and practice. But from my experience, after only a month of daily 15-minute exercises, my clients start to feel an impact.
Some of the benefits my clients have experienced include feeling less stressed, better equipped to handle their stress, sleeping better, weight loss, and less aches and pains.
2) Reduction in the reliance on external substances to relax
As I’ve explained above, if we don’t form an established connection with our body, it is hard to relax. People tend to force their relaxation through some kind of sensory pleasure like wine, chocolate, food, or TV at the end of the day. There is nothing wrong with some small indulgences, but the more we rely on external substances to relax, the harder it becomes to relax on our own. We’ve developed the habit of using something external to relax rather than simply relaxing in our own body.
We need more of the same external substance to feel better and a new association starts to form with that substance. The ability to enjoy a glass of wine or chocolate for the simple pleasure of it is no longer there. Instead, it’s replaced with other emotions like fear, guilt, and shame. Our relationships with these substances start to change and we start thinking it is the substance that is addictive.
When you get home from work, instead of going straight for the wine or chocolate, if you spend some time in your body doing some gentle exercises or movements, you’ll achieve a good feeling of relaxation all on your own, without relying on an external substance. Then the wine or chocolate can go back to being a nice occasional treat rather than a guilty daily habit.
This new ability to relax at will helps us to shut off our mind once we leave work which, in turn, helps us sleep better. We can let our thoughts go and the increased movement over the day has made our body tired and ready for sleep.
Who doesn’t want that?
For an even better night’s sleep, I recommend spending just a couple minutes doing some slow, purposeful stretching. These gentle movements will relax your muscles and focus your breath, preparing both your body and mind for sleep.
If you need help incorporating ways to reduce your stress and sleep better, book a free discovery call with me today.