I’m gonna throw out a definition of relaxation. To relax is to manage our stressors, and to manage our reactions to stress. Stress is a positive thing when our relaxation skill set is up to scratch! When I’m stressed about my fat ass, that stressor can make me either go out for a good run or make me pity myself with Taco Bell. It really depends on the day, but for the most part the gym wins out :). At least I know what I’m stressing about!
Some people suck at relaxing, while others are excellent at it, which implies that there is either a learning curve, or that some have natural talent for managing their stress. Probably both. As my man Gary Vaynerchuk is fond of saying, the variable is Self-Awareness (please check out Chapter 17 of his audiobook here for free, it offers really wonderful and practical insight on Self-Awareness).
To start managing stress first we need to 1) acknowledging our stressors, and 2) be honest with how we react to stress.
1) Acknowledging our stressors
That is who, what, when, where, and why we stress. Everyday things like shitty traffic, lack of sleep, all the way to the Deep Down stuff like illness in the family or lack of money. Those things that make us stress are many and their intensity varies, but each one needs to be called out, listed, and admitted to.
2) Admitting our stress reactions
If number 1) was the “5 Ws”then number 2) is the How. How does stress change us in a negative sense? Left unmanaged stress is known to make us hot-tempered, make us push loved ones away, add wrinkles, make our hair fall out, or worry so much that we don’t enjoy things here and now. We all need to do the work of Self-Awareness so that stress remains something useful, and not something to cringe at or hide from.