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Time to relax

No doubt you nearly dismissed this article with a grim smile once you read the title. How many of us have time to relax? In fact, as a working parent, you might find that you barely have enough time to do all the things that need doing, let alone having any left over for something as selfish as relaxation. But at the same time, if you are feeling really stressed then you know, deep down, that it’s not good for you, and not good for your children, your relationships or your ability to focus on work. So, does the answer lie in expensive and time-consuming treatments ? Does relaxation itself have to be another items on your list of things to get stressed about?

What works?

Surprisingly, there may not be much for you to gain by paying out a fortune for some sophisticated-sounding relaxation treatment. One study, in 2010, looked at the reduction in anxiety which participants gained from three different relaxation techniques. Some participants were regularly massaged, and some were given thermotherapy, which involves being treated by the application of different levels of heat. The third group simply relaxed in a softly-lit room while listening to quiet music. All three groups saw the same improvement in their anxiety levels after twelve weeks of regular sessions.


Making it work at home

So, you can go ahead and scrap the therapy budget and spend the money on something more interesting instead. But you still need to relax, so it is important to understand what all this means for you. First of all, the participants may have gained benefits from just setting aside a regular time, once or twice per week, to relax and do nothing else. So, you need to do the same – the regularity of your relaxation sessions is probably as important as the amount of time that you spend on each one, so build the time into your routine, even if you can’t manage very long at each session.

It is also important to realise that the participants in the study were all using treatment rooms for their relaxation, and so were not in their homes. It is possible that some of the benefit they gained came from regularly being in a neutral environment without the reminders of home and work stressors. So, it might be harder than it first appears to replicate this at home, especially if your children are still young enough to be banging on the door whenever you try to get five minuets to yourself. The first rule is that you have to find a way to ensure no interruptions. Don’t have your phone anywhere near you, because you will be tempted to check whether you’ve received that important text. And try to persuade older children to wait until you emerge before starting up with a list of demands. With little ones, it may be harder, especially if you are oe your own and so can’t enlist a partner in keeping them busy until you’ve finished. But give it a try, some time spent on yourself is better than nothing at all.


Lastly, the researchers pointed out that during massage sessions, quiet relaxing music is generally playing. In fact, the researchers questioned whether it is the music itself that gives the greatest benefit in terms of reducing stress. So, all you need to do is to turn down the lights, find some music that soothes you and bask in the atmosphere for a little while. No effort, no major expense, and a significant reduction in stress. You have no excuses.




About Paula Hendry

About Paula Hendry

Paula Hendry is a freelance consultant in the field of social work. She has been a social worker for twenty five years, and specialises in mental health. Paula has two children and writes in her spare time (which is virtually non-existent.)

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