The sixth pillar of DIY Health is relaxation. Unwinding and letting go of tension and stress is essential for leading a healthy and happy life. Some people find it easy to relax, while others find it difficult and often get to the end of their holidays before they start to feel relaxed and carefree.
Research from Stanford University suggests that the ability to manage stress may be the most important factor in longevity. The body reacts physically to stress (either physically or emotionally) and releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increases heart rate and blood pressure. This is useful if you’re trying to escape a tiger, but certainly not helpful when you’re trying to go to sleep.
Relaxation is about the things you do for the enjoyment they bring, not for any other purpose.
It is about playing ball for fun not to win. It is walking in the park, listening to music, being with your loved ones or whatever you enjoy doing and has no time frame to it.
With that in mind we have had a week in Pemberton, which is in the Karri forest in the south west of West Australia. The lodge at which we stayed is comprised of self-contained timber cabins. There is neither cell phone coverage nor wireless Internet.
Now Pemberton at this time of year is on the cold side and can be a bit wet. The beauty of this is that you can slow down. Country towns in general have a slow down feel about them and when the weather is cold this is amplified a bit.
So what does one do on such a holiday? Not very much! The best part is actually not having any commitments and not having to be at any particular place at any particular time. Now most days we did get out and about for a while. There are some local wineries and craft places. The kids had a chance to do some fishing at the trout farm and caught lunch for everyone.
There is a wonderful place called the lavender berry farm (for obvious reasons) and their berry pancake alone is worth the trip. A bit further south at the old timber town of Northcliffe there is a sculpture walk in the forest. This is an amazing collection of art works set in the trees.
The view from the cabin was straight out to the trees. This is very peaceful. Of course we also did walks in the forest including out to the nearby waterfall. Walking in nature is very grounding and allows you to slow down.
Back at the cabin the whole family was able to catch up on some reading and watch a DVD or two in front of the log fire. Quiet family time together without external commitments is also valuable. The proverbial icing on the cake was the capacity to sleep in and catch up a bit of a backlog of sleep.
Being able to do things at a slow pace and have no commitments allows us to literally slow down .The world today is rapid paced and it is no use hoping that it will slow down for you. Indeed it can be very productive and efficient to move at speed. However at some point there needs to be a balance. A break such as the one I have just had allows a recharging of the batteries. Virtually everything we did was done for its own enjoyment, and not to any pre conceived plans or time line.
This is true relaxation – an easy to overlook but nonetheless vital pillar of DIY Health.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA.