September is almost over and we are well in to the school year. For those recent graduate, at this point reality has kicked in and now it’s time get serious on landing that first job into your field of study. And for the parents out there, you are now back to juggling work and your family life all at once. As we progress into fall, most of us get bombarded with numerous deadlines whether it be from work, school, or personal deadlines while also trying to stay on top of your busy lifestyle. We get caught up in this endless cycle and eventually start to feel very overwhelmed. However, in the mist of this cycle we need to remind our selves to take a moment to just breath and relax before we hit that breaking point.
The topic of relaxation was briefly discussed in the previous post on how can provide beneficial effects for diabetics in improving blood sugar levels. However, relaxation has shown to have numerous beneficial effects all throughout our body. With adequate time spent towards relaxation, individuals can also experience an increased immunity(1). This rise on immune cells allows your body to better protect you against disease. Relaxation has also proven to have positive effects on heart health through lowering blood pressure. This is achieved through the body’s ability to decrease psychological distress leading to a reduction on overall blood pressure, which can thus help reduce the risk of developing hypertension(2). Another benefit achieved through relaxation is, an evident reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety. When our body is in a state of relaxation, it allows us to produce hormone called endorphins which are responsible for relieving pain as well as elevating mood (3). Last but not least, research has shown improved fertility rates with women who are relaxed as opposed to women experiencing elevated levels of stressed (4).
Some of the many reasons we may find it difficult to relax is due to endless worries and stress about matters pertaining to our day to day lives. However, we must remember that we are only in this world for a temporary time, thus we must make this time worthwhile and prosper the blessing we have been gifted with. The Quraan it self mentions the importance of being grateful not only for the sake of Allah but for your own sake. This is mentioned by Prophet Suleman in Ayah 40 of Surah Al-Naml “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful”. This sense of gratitude will provide us with a feeling of relief from pressures and anxiety through allowing us to appreciate what we already have.
Relaxation does not mean spending time lounging around watching tv. Its about having time set aside to engage your body, mind, and soul in a tension free state, where all of you experiences reduced stimulation as a pose to when you are stressed. Here are 5 ways you can engage in relaxing activities;
- Meditation- spending 10-15 minutes seated with your back straight and eyes closed, clearing yours mind while letting any distracting thoughts pass you by and you focus on deep breathing
- Release the knots- spend about 10-15 minutes laying down with your eyes closed and scan your body from head to toe releasing any tension
- Sujood (Prostration)- After any one of the obligatory prayers spend about 5 minutes in this state, it well help reduce tension in the lower back, knees, and ankles. This spiritual process will also help relieve mental stress as you express gratitude to Allah and hand over your worries to him alone
- Decompress- massaging away the tension is a great way to help you relax, you can even do it on your own by using a tennis ball or a foam roller
- Listening to Quraan- This can be done on your way to school or work. Listening to soothing sounds has proven to help in relaxing the mind through releasing any tension in the brain. This will also provide a feeling of inner peace.
Written by: Raya Haddass
Infante, J., Peran, F., Rayo, J., Serrano, J., Garcia, L., Roldan, A., . . . Duran, C. (2014). Levels of immune cells in transcendental meditation practitioners. International Journal of Yoga, 7(2), 147.
Nidich, S. I., Rainforth, M. V., Haaga, D. A., Hagelin, J., Salerno, J. W., Travis, F., . . . Schneider, R. H. (2009). A Randomized Controlled Trial on Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Blood Pressure, Psychological Distress, and Coping in Young Adults. American Journal of Hypertension, 22(12), 1326-1331.
Klainin-Yobas, P., Oo, W. N., Yew, P. Y., & Lau, Y. (2015). Effects of relaxation interventions on depression and anxiety among older adults: a systematic review. Aging & Mental Health, 19(12), 1043-1055.
Harrison , R. F., O’Moore, R. R., & O’Moore, A. M. (1986). Stress and fertility: some modalities of investigation and treatment in couples with unexplained infertility in Dublin. Int J Fertil, 31(2), 153-159.