Being Productive and Relaxed


Once and awhile, we want to get away to that special place, be it an island in the middle of the ocean or some hide-away in the woods to relax and recharge.  But the vast majority of the time we are participating in our daily lives at our homes, at our work places, in our neighborhoods, on our commutes.  These are the locations familiar to us and the locations where being able to relax and be productive at the same time will make the most difference.

Being able to relax in the typical situations of our daily lives gives us the focus to produce the results we want, gives us a manner that attracts friends and colleagues, and puts us in a state of mind to appreciate and celebrate the results we achieve.

On the other hand, I have learned from years of first hand experience that anxiety narrows our vision, and makes us forgetful of our talents.  For many years, I was tight in my body, so my view of the world was constricted and inflexible in many senses.

Before I wrote this post, I consulted my powerful friend Dan Johnson who also happens to be a premiere massage therapist and a Certified Laughter Coach.  He suggested the word “myopic” based on the ideas about stress that I was describing.  The word myopic made me think of the blinders that are sometimes put on either side of a horse’s eyes during parades so that a horse can only look straight ahead.  This helps the horse not to be spooked.

Dan was right in using the word myopic to describe how I felt when I was stressed, which I find very ironic because I have always prided myself on being open-minded.  While I may have been open-minded much of my life, I had a myopic focus on many fears and frustrations and my body responded by being tense and constricted.

People used to advise me to “just relax.”  I wasn’t able to fulfill on their request.  I would think about relaxing and that I should relax, but I just was unable to efficiently do it.  It was as if I had blinders around my eyes that focused my attention on my tension.  When someone told me to relax, it was like they lifted my blinders.   However, I was used to focusing straight ahead on my tension. I couldn’t begin to understand how I might gaze into the periphery of what I was experiencing and discover a life of relaxation.

Slowly, I recognized that to feel more relaxation in my daily life, I needed to develop the skills to relax my body on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, there is no exact prescription for relaxation.  If there was, I would have taken lots of it in junior high. Many methods of creating relaxation in our daily routine exist. Belly breathing, which I talked about in yesterday’s blog, may be one of the simplest places to begin a journey towards being more relaxed and at the same time maintaining productive lifestyle.  Beyond that, ways of calming your mind that work for you and an exercise routine that you love can make a world of difference.  The trick and game is to find what works for you so that you can enjoy productive relaxation on a daily basis.

 Game Of The Day

Where are you now in the adventure of being productive and relaxed at the same time?

What is your next step towards further strengthening your ability to be productive and relaxed at the same time?

Give Yourself the Gift of Breathing Like Santa Claus

Santa Claus seems to know a thing or two about relaxation because breathing from the belly is a great way to reduce stress.  Santa Claus probably had to learn all about stress management to be able to function.  Can you imagine the stress involved in delivering billions of gifts in one single night, not to mention that many houses don’t have chimneys anymore?

Actually, I don’t know for certain if Santa Claus breathes from the belly.  I’m usually asleep when he comes.  But I do know that Santa Claus is the king of the belly laugh.  He places his hands on his spacious belly and goes “HO, HO, HO!”  Try a Santa Claus belly laugh right now. Just place both hands on your belly and go “HO, HO, HO!”  If anyone asks what you are doing, just say,  “It’s August and I’m getting in the mood for the holidays.”

Breathing from the belly is dear to my heart because for much of my life I was a person who carried around a high level of stress.  Part of my high level of stress was due to the fact that I did not understand how breathing from the belly can deepen a breath and help a person relax.  Actually until starting to participate in yoga four years ago, I gave little thought to the way I breathed.  I had of course heard the expression, “take a deep breath,” but I didn’t think it actually made much of a difference.  I mean, I breathed the way I breathed and that was that.  But I can tell you that learning to breathe deeply from the belly has made a huge difference in my life.

Deep breathing is, of course, good to do in crisis situations like when we are stuck in traffic 12:58 PM and have a meeting we desperately need to get to at 1:00 PM.

However, one of the biggest things I learned is that the phrase, “take a deep breath” isn’t just wisdom for situations when we already feel stressed out.  The huge benefit I have gotten from belly breathing has come from practicing it when I’m not in crisis situations.  For example, lying in bed before you drift off to sleep is a very good and restful time to practice belly breathing.  Simply place your hands on your belly and focus on inflating your belly like a balloon when you breathe in and letting your belly deflate when you exhale.

Participating in yoga, laughter yoga or practicing with a video on abdominal breathing from the web can help you get the hang of belly breathing.  Also, whenever you think about it during the day, consciously try to send your breath down to your belly.  Let your belly inflate as you inhale and deflate as you exhale.

Once you practice belly breathing for a while, you will begin to feel generally more relaxed.  This is a very exciting time because I have found that being more relaxed is not only more comfortable, but also that we have a tendency to create less stressful situations in our lives.

For example, feeling more relaxed, we may naturally remember before we leave home that the interstate sometimes gets packed over noon rush hour.  So, we choose an alternate route and arrive to our important meeting five minutes early, relaxed and laughing like Santa Claus.

 Game of the Day

  1. Have fun practicing belly breathing in whatever way works best for you.

2.  Laugh like Santa Claus at least twice today.