Things have begun to slow down here at The Fruit Company since the Mother’s Day rush. During Mother’s Day the fruit was flying, the production line buzzing and the phones couldn’t be tamed. Everyone was asking the hard questions: Does Mom want apples this year? Did she like the chocolate covered blueberries, or was it the cherries? Did she love the cheese or was that what she claimed gave her gas till Father’s Day? In the midst of the whirlwind, it can suddenly seem as if the world will grind to a halt and fall off its axis if Mom doesn’t get the perfect gift. It’s enough to put a ring of sweat on your upper lip and have you spontaneously sobbing to the Fed-Ex man.
Gift giving is the ultimate revenge on an already tired and sleep deprived world. It’s also an opportunity to remember a few things: It really is the thought that counts, being re-gifted isn’t the worst thing on the planet, and taking a few minutes to relax may be the most healthy and productive gift you ever give yourself.
We live in a busy world with more stress than ever. The two go hand in hand. Stress that goes unchecked can lead to symptoms that range from irritating (mild headaches, excessive sweating) to severe (insomnia, high blood pressure, immune impairment). Relaxing and learning relaxation techniques is the easiest, most cost effective way of reducing mild to moderate stress without up ending your whole life. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on therapy, seminars or workshops; you don’t have to quit your job, shave your head, join a commune and meditate eight out of twelve hours a day. You can, if that’s what you really want, but it would be easier just to try Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Recommended by the Mayo clinic, progressive muscle relaxation is a simple exercise in which you focus on tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. Muscle tension should be held for five seconds and relaxation for thirty. The process of tensing and relaxing the muscles puts focus on each muscle group, makes the practitioner more aware of his or her own body and sensations, and allows the body to release tension held in the muscles. One method of progressive relaxation is to start with the toes and move up the body to the neck and head.
While progressive muscle relaxation is a structured exercise, relaxation can happen anytime you slow down, put aside errands, conflicts and demands, and enjoy a piece of your day. It can consist of reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to, going for a walk, talking a bath, eating some fresh fruit (I haven’t found a professional who doesn’t recommend a healthy diet as part of a stress management routine) or getting a massage. If it allows you to take a deep breath and feel your own heart beat, it counts!
Routinely giving yourself enough time to relax and enjoy life will pay dividends. You’ll be happier, feel better, have more focus, and if you start before Father’s Day, deciding whether Dad wants chocolate covered almonds or toffee almonds won’t send you over the deep end. So go ahead, tense those toes!