Build a relaxation practice
Stress can leave us feeling tense and irritable and interfere with our work and personal lives, which is why finding ways to relax is so important. Not only does relaxation help us calm down and recover from difficult days, but it also lowers blood pressure, increases our ability to concentrate, improves sleep, decreases muscle tension and more.
The good news is that we can learn how to intentionally practice relaxation through deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, exercise and progressive muscle relaxation.
Deep breathing can ease anxiety and soothe tension. Practice directing your breath by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can learn specific practices like abdominal breathing, count your breaths and make your exhale a few seconds longer than your inhale.
Meditation takes many different forms and offers people ways to find inner peace. Try focusing on sounds or images, or simply take a few minutes in a quiet place to close your eyes and breathe while imagining a place or object that comforts you.
Mindfulness helps people slow down and remain in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or past anxieties. While you can take a class or read a book about mindfulness, you can also practice mindfulness at home or at work by enjoying each bite of a meal or slowing down and paying attention to the sights and sounds around you.
Exercise is beneficial for many reasons, and it does not have to be intense to be effective. Something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood can relieve tension. Once you find an activity you enjoy, try to build up to 30 minutes of activity most or all days of the week.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a great way to get your entire body to relax in just a few minutes. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable to lie down and stretch out. Then inhale as you concentrate on contracting your muscle groups for three to five seconds, and exhale as you release the tension. Work your way up from your toes to your forehead or vice versa.
Known as the father of mindfulness, poet and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says: “We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and recenter ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.”
If you need additional support, help is available through Dallas ISD’s Employee Assistance Program by LifeWorks. The confidential, secure platform has countless resources available online for free. From 24/7 on-call counselors to practical tips on subjects like managing grief, processing anger and maintaining work-life balance, employees can find what they need, when they need it.
Reach out to LifeWorks at (972) 925-4000, or visit www.dallasisd.org/benefits and click on Benefits Resources to access online EAP information.