Happy Labor Day! Since 1882, Labor Day has been celebrated as a day of rest for working-class citizens. But if you’re using Labor Day to catch up on projects, you’re one of the millions proving the point: we need to learn how to relax now more than ever.
Being tense all the time is like driving a car with no shock absorbers. Every little bump on the road jostles you, and big bumps can be downright painful. You have no flexibility and adaptability to the inevitable stresses of life. Eventually, chronic tension can lead to weight gain, a breakdown of your immune system and an increase in the rates of all of the ailments -- heart disease, diabetes, cancer -- that plague modern societies. Relaxing will not just increase your quality of life, but also your quantity of it!
In astrology, labor is associated with the planet Saturn. Saturn is like a personal trainer. In the right measure, he brings the discipline, concentration and dedication that inspire achievement and excellence. However, when he’s out-of-balance, the result is chronic tension, anxiety and depression.
Fortunately we can all learn to work with our cosmic personal trainer and break the tension-cycle. Greater relaxation requires only three simple habits -- and they are all absolutely free!
Regular exercise will improve your life more than anything else. It doesn’t have to be a fanatical cardio workout at the gym (unless you enjoy that sort of thing), but you do have to move. As a species, human beings evolved to walk, not to sit in front of a screen. So get yourself a pair of walking shoes and find 20 minutes every day to walk somewhere. It will reduce your stress hormones, elevate your mood-enhancing hormones, increase your metabolism, help you lose weight and reduce your risk of illness.
If someone offered you the secret for instant relaxation, would you want to know? Lucky you, you already know it! You’ve been doing it all your life: It’s called breathing. While you read this, take one good deep breath in, then let it out, releasing some of your tension along with it. Feel good? It didn’t require any special equipment, or even extra time. You just needed to pay attention to something you are already doing. Conscious breathing is something you can easily do while sitting in a meeting, waiting at a stoplight, or doing the dishes. In fact, the average person breathes around 28,000 a day. You have plenty of chances to practice conscious breathing. So ... just breathe.
Seriously! You don’t have to believe whoever said, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Just Google “health benefits of laughter” to find dozens of articles describing how laughter can cure what ails you. Studies say healthy children laugh 400 times a day, the average adult only 15 times. That fact alone makes me want to laugh. There’s enough absurdity in life to fuel the giggles for years. Open your eyes, look around and smile.
Of course, there are myriad other ways that can help you relax even more fully and deeply. Sadly it’s true that all the relaxation in the world won’t erase the reality that there are challenges in life that must be dealt with. But these three simple things can reduce your tension levels enough that you will be more able handle what comes your way. It’s a quick and easy jump-start to cultivating balance in your life.