How Relaxation Techniques Can Help You Focus
In our productivity-driven society, many people succumb to the temptation to work through their lunch breaks or hunch over their computers checking emails at night instead of relaxing. The irony of this is that instead of increasing productivity, denying yourself relaxation time can actually decrease your focus at work, making you less effective in both your professional and personal lives. People who are overburdened by stress tend to be less focused than their counterparts who have learned how to manage stress through relaxation techniques.
Guided relaxation gives people something else to focus on and a chance to clear their minds as they relax their bodies. They come away from the experience feeling more positive, with a fresh outlook on both life and work. Those who participate in regular relaxation training learn how to manage stress and the impact it has on one’s ability to concentrate and think critically about the task at hand. When people are focused on their daily tasks, they can accomplish more, and, as a result, tend to feel more satisfied with their lives and work. Individuals who practice relaxation techniques, also called relaxation training, on a regular basis are not only investing in their mental and physical health, they are improving their focus as they move through life.
Even when people know they need to find time to relax throughout their day, it can still be difficult to figure out when and how. Here are some suggestions for how you can fit regular relaxation into your life:
1. Engage in a breathing exercise to increase oxygen and help refresh your body and brain. This can be done on the bus or train on the way to work, sitting at your desk, or as you stroll outside during one of your breaks. You can start small by simply paying attention to your breathing, using this as a way to clear your mind. If you like to have more guidance, you can listen to breathing exercises designed to decrease stress and increase focus (you can find samples of breathing exercises on my Recordings page). At first, you may need a reminder to incorporate mindful breathing into your daily routine. You can make an “appointment” in your calendar, set an alarm or put up a note with a calming picture to help you remember to take time to breathe deeply.
2. Take some time for meditation. The great thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere, at any time. Although some enjoy silent meditation or using a mantra, many people benefit from some guidance, such as an inclusive, universal loving kindness meditation. The goal is to help your mind refocus (meditation is a great way to do this) while simultaneously promoting positive feelings toward oneself and others. Loving kindness meditation is about cultivating peace and understanding, which will help you interact more effectively with your colleagues and people in your personal life.
3. Carve out time each day to relax your body. In addition to activities like walking, tai chi, yoga or stretching, progressive muscle relaxation is also a great way to relieve tension that tends to build up in your body throughout the day. During progressive muscle relaxation, you tense a certain muscle group and then completely relax those muscles, repeating the process to train the muscles to let go of tension. Next, you move on to another group of muscles, tense them, and let go of the tension by completely relaxing them, continuing until your entire body is relaxed. These exercises also give your mind a break and allow it to refocus so that you can be more productive in work and life. It is helpful to practice this technique regularly so that you are more likely to use it when you really need it (e.g. while sitting in traffic, taking a quick break at work, settling into bed at night, etc.). You can listen to a sample of progressive muscle relaxation on Daydreaming by the Sea.
4. Do something relaxing before bed to help you get a good night’s sleep. This could be a series of gentle stretching exercises, taking a warm bath, or reading a positive, uplifting book. You can also listen to a guided relaxation recording to help you achieve deep and restorative sleep.
By putting yourself first and building in time for relaxation every day, you’re investing in both your personal and professional success and happiness. Over time, these exercises will help reduce stress and improve your focus, which will allow you to accomplish more on a daily basis. If you would like help incorporating relaxation techniques into your life, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the resources below.
From the Mayo Clinic
“Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress”
From Candi Raudebaugh of Inner Health Studio
“Too Busy to Relax?”
“Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief”
From the Cleveland Clinic