What do you Think is the Fastest way to Mentally and Physically Relax?
Most people will say “take several deep breaths,” but brain studies show that this actually increase mental stress and physical tension. It wakes up your circuits of perception to pay more attention and tightens muscles in preparation to take action. So deep breathing is good to stay focused and achieve goals.
We all take relaxation for granted but have you ever tried to define it? It took me about 12 years to research neurological “relaxation” in a variety of journals and books, and when it comes to the brain “relaxation” can be defined as a lessoning of excessive metabolic activity. In other words, too much cognitive and emotional “busy-ness.” And as far as the research shows, there is only one biological strategy used by all mammals and birds: yawning! And for physical relaxation: a slow leisurely stretch, like your dog and cat will do when waking up (notice that they will also yawn!).
Research shows that excessive mental stress damages the brain in post-mortem studies, and chronic anxiety or depression are stressors that impair brain function. But here’s the problem: different parts of your brain remain active at different times of the day and night, so what is the “right” amount of relaxation, and when should you do it? Answer: every 20 minutes after you’ve been concentrating on a task. Yawning 3-4 times will “relax” your prefrontal lobes – turning down neural activity in the concentration and worry centers. When that happens you’ll feel your mind begin to wander. That’s showing that the default mode network is turning on, and that daydreaming-like state allows the rest of your brain to solve problems nonverbally.
According to an article in Scientific American (10-15-13) this relaxed daydreaming state “replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self.
Written by Mark Waldman
Posted by Gloria Manchester