When you try to relax, do you feel overwhelmed and constantly think about what you should be doing instead of feeling relaxed and rested? My Mind News explains this new term, stresslaxation, and what you can do about it.
What is stresslaxation?
While stresslaxation is a new term, the concept of trying to relax only to feel more stressed has been studied for many years and is not a recent phenomenon. Scientists often refer to this type of stress as relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA).
According to the researchers of a study, “RIA is a paradoxical phenomenon wherein people experience a spike in their anxiety during relaxation.” Some people experience a range of intense symptoms, such as increased heartbeats, sweating, panic attacks, and hyperventilation.
The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology reported that approximately 30-50% of people have this feeling when trying to relax. Still, undoubtedly, following the pandemic, this figure has increased due to isolation, lack of human connection, and working from home.
Changing this vicious cycle
To do something about this vicious cycle, you must first recognize your behavior patterns and understand your relationship with achievement. According to Christine Comaford, you need to ask yourself three specific questions –
- What do you want to achieve?
- Why do you want to achieve it?
- What motivates you?
Invariably the answers to these questions will lead you to the fact that you believe and have managed to convince yourself that relaxing makes you feel unproductive and that you are not achieving what you have set out to achieve.
Long-term stress dramatically impacts our physical and psychological health, so we need to relax and rest to replenish our mental and emotional wellbeing. The health benefits that relaxation brings are well-researched and documented.
Five ways that will help you get more relaxation
- Acknowledge your behavior patterns and that long-term stress harms you physically and mentally and those around you. They, too, can be affected by your stress levels.
- Decide to relax and schedule some downtime into your day every day. Do this by writing it down as a task to be completed, just like your other tasks. When finished, tick it off as an achievement. In the short term, this may help you manage your relationship with relaxation, stress, and achievement. This could be as simple as swapping social media for a ten-minute walk, setting aside five minutes to listen to music, or doing a guided meditation.
- Find a relaxing activity or hobby and commit to it. Doing something you enjoy will help you not only relax but also find enjoyment and satisfaction.
- Reduce your ”to-do list.” Finding time to relax means that other non-critical tasks will need to be de-prioritized or not done at the same frequency.
- Practice self-compassion – you deserve to relax and need to help your body fully recuperate. Be kind to yourself and recognize that you need ‘you time’, which will benefit you and those around you.
My Mind News would love to hear from our readers if stresslaxation is something they experience and if this article has helped convince you that you need to take relaxation seriously. Please leave a comment below.