It never hurts to relax

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I was driving home the other day and found myself becoming very impatient with other drivers. At one point, I was stuck driving behind a car going 10 km/hr under the speed limit. Can you imagine? My blood pressure probably rising, I sped past this car, likely cursing slow-moving drivers under my breath or something similar. I continued my drive, weaving in and out of traffic, and altogether feeling very stressed and agitated. When I was almost home, I was stopped in traffic, waiting to exit the highway, when I saw that very same car again, poking along - only now it was passing me. I had to laugh at myself - all that frustration and impatience, when a relaxed drive would have brought me to the same place in just about the same amount of time.

At some point in our lives, most people have experienced stress or frustration, possibly impatience with someone driving too slowly, or with a slow-moving line up at the grocery store or doctor’s office. What does this impatience and stress do for us? Increases our blood pressure which can worsen our risk of stroke or heart attack, reduces our immune system, which can make us more susceptible to illness and disease…in other words, nothing too good.

On the other hand, what if we just relaxed? What if we accepted that sometimes we just have to wait – to slow down? Is it possible that we might become a little more content in our day to day lives? It’s certainly worth a try.

Relaxation doesn’t have to mean that you do nothing or that you neglect work and responsibility either. It’s a change in mindset – including giving yourself permission to take it easy and to take your time. In 50 years, will it matter that you were 10 minutes late to that appointment, or that you waited an extra 20 minutes in that line?

Some ways to relax might be doing deep breathing exercises, reading a book, listening to your favourite music, going for a walk, or even doing something like yoga or Tai Chi. I personally found the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson has some great ideas for looking at life in a different, and less stressful, way. These are things that can – and probably should - be incorporated into your life on a daily basis.

Some people find it difficult to relax, however. If you find that your nervousness, impatience or difficulty coping with stress is affecting your day to day life, you might want to talk to your doctor or other health care provider for some extra help.

Keeping Health in Mind is a monthly newspaper column made possible with the help of Seaway News and the clinical staff of Tri-County Mental Health Services, a community program of the Cornwall Community Hospital/Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall.

Organizations: Tai Chi, Seaway News, Tri-County Mental Health Services Cornwall Community Hospital/Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall

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