Week 1: Understanding chronic pain

Week 4: Healthy thinking, healthy self

Week 5: Balancing your activity patterns

Week 6: Maintaining your gains and staying well

The benefits of planned relaxation

For many people, relaxation is a low priority on the ‘to-do’ list. This may be the case if you are forced to rest a lot because of your chronic pain. You may think “I rest too much” or “I don’t get enough done”. As such, you may push yourself to do more whenever you feel able to. Rather than making time for relaxation, you may see it as a ‘distraction’ from your goals. However, as we mentioned above, rest is not the same as relaxation. Especially when the rest you’re getting is non-restorative. In the long run, unmanaged stress will take you further from your goals.

Other common barriers/thoughts about relaxation include:

  • “How can I relax when I’m in so much pain”
  • “If I slow down, the pain gets worse. I have to keep moving so it doesn’t catch up with me”
  • “I’m incapable of relaxing”
  • “With all the stress in my life, the last thing I need is to relax”
  • “Everything will fall apart if I stop and relax”
  • “I don’t have time, I’m too busy to relax”
  • “I’ve tried relaxing before but it doesn’t work”

Taking time out to relax allows you to recharge, so that you can perform at your best when you need to. To use a metaphor, think about owning a car. If you run your car without taking care of it, it will eventually break down. However, if you give the car fuel, change the tyres, and service the engine, it’s likely to function well. In fact, it will get you from A to B faster and more efficiently. Our bodies and minds are no different, they need to be looked after in order to perform well.        

Relaxation helps the body and mind regain balance and is linked to other benefits, including:

  • Enhanced creativity 
  • Better sleep
  • Lowered fatigue
  • Improved immune functioning (less illness) 
  • Improved concentration and focus
  • Improved learning and memory 
  • Improved mood
  • Clarity in decision making
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced anger and frustration
  • Feelings of calm and wellbeing 
  • Reduced muscle tension and chronic pain

As you can see, there’s a long list of reasons to prioritise relaxation! All of these benefits have flow on effects to other aspects of life, whether it be at work, in your studies, or in relationships. So next time you hesitate about taking some time out to relax, remember that you’re making a long-term investment in your health. Returning to the car metaphor, you need to fill up your own tank if you want to complete the journey of life comfortably and in good time.