Research from the American Psychological Association found that Americans are more stressed than ever. It’s easy to see why – the global pandemic has changed life as we know it.
However, Americans have also reported that their screen time has increased – according to research from Chumba Casino, 91 percent of respondents said that their screen time has gone up during the pandemic.
What does this mean? We’re a culture of gearheads that understand the benefits of technology but desperately need to relax and recharge. So how can you relax and feel unplugged while still using a screen?
The Psychology of Relaxation
Relaxation, or the state of deep rest that has the power to alter your outlook and your life, has baffled scientists for centuries. However, doctors have come a long way in identifying what helps us to relax. In a 2008 study published by the American Psychology Association, psychologist Herbert Benson suggests that one of the best ways to facilitate the relaxation response is repetitive motion. His research found that the secret to true relaxation is “…really no different from what people have done for centuries through prayer, chanting and repetitive motion.”
What does this mean? A repetitive motion, whether that’s moving your hands, feet, or any other part of your body in a rhythmic way that allows you to ‘zone out,’ can help you feel more relaxed.
The Importance of Relaxation Quality
Have you ever set aside time to ‘relax’ but found that you didn’t end up relaxing at all? You’re not alone. Not all relaxation time is created equal, and it’s essential to tailor your relaxation time and activity to suit your needs. The health experts at Self have shared their best tips for increasing the quality of your relaxation below:
- Choose an activity that relaxes you: for some people, playing video games is the ultimate in relaxation. For others, it’s taking a bubble bath or going for a run. To relax, you need to choose an activity that works for you. Remember that relaxation is about outcomes, not the action itself, so if you complete a relaxing activity that doesn’t make you feel calmer and more refreshed, it’s time to look for a new activity.
- Set aside time to relax: to relax fully, your rest should be intentional. If you struggle to relax, choose a shorter time.In the words of the article, “six hours of half-assed relaxing is not as good as two hours of focused, intentional relaxing.”
- Remove the idea of ‘earning’ rest: a common thread that many psychological professionals see is the idea that we have to ‘earn’ rest – that we need to work very hard before giving ourselves a break. The experts at Self recommend reminding yourself that downtime is necessary – and can help you work more quickly and effectively. After all, we rarely think that we need to earn sleep and understand that as a necessary part of life.
What does this mean? Relaxing is unique, meaning you don’t need someone else to tell you how to react. If you’re a gearhead looking for a way to use technology to relax, we’ve listed our favorite suggestions below.
Hear us out – playing video games can definitely help people feel more relaxed. According to Chumba Casino‘s research, 73 percent of respondents found that gaming helped to relieve stress and allowed them to ‘unplug’ from their lives.
Video games take place in an alternate world for many people, allowing them to feel a mental escape from their lives, similar to what you’d feel when reading (more on that later). However, video games also offer another relaxation element – they combine repetitive motions, like those mentioned above, with the feeling of being in another world. It’s no wonder that so many people turn to video games to feel ‘unplugged’ from their lives.
Adult coloring books are great stress-busters. Coloring is calming because it relaxes the part of your brain that controls your fear response (the amygdala). The repetitive motion gives the same benefits as meditating – it’s calming for a mind that doesn’t seem to be able to turn off.
However, coloring can be a high-equipment activity – you’ve got to buy the book, get the markers, etc. – but did you know that you can color online for free? Many websites, such as ColoringBook.pics, offer a free online coloring experience. Mess-free and completely portable, it’s a great way to feel more relaxed while remaining plugged in.
Frequent meditators say that regular meditation practice has the power to change your life. Regular meditation is also linked to reduced stress and overall improved happiness. However, meditation can seem inaccessible, especially if you’re a complete beginner with no good idea of where to start. The great news about meditation is that you don’t need any special equipment to start – just a laptop, phone, and a bit of time. The experts at E-Student have compiled their favorite online mindfulness courses – take a look for their recommendations.
Reading is a fantastic way to relax, and by using an e-reader, you can unplug while staying plugged in. Reading also has plenty of health benefits. Healthline describes them below:
- Reading reduces stress: stress is one of the leading reasons for needing relaxation, so it’s essential to get straight to the heart of the issue. Reduce stress even further by choosing lighthearted books and stories.
- Reading lowers blood pressure and heart rate: this physical sign of relaxation is vital to ensuring that your rest is restful.
- Reading helps you go to sleep: the ultimate in relaxation, a reading habit can help you go to sleep – a very healthy practice in its own right.
- Reading improves brain connectivity: reading strengthens your brain. When it comes to relaxation, this is important because your brain will have the discipline it needs to zone out – crucial for relaxation.
Relaxation is vital, but it’s also different for everyone. Whether plugged in or unplugged, make sure that you take the time to relax and take care of yourself. You’ll be glad you did!