Relaxation is different from leisure. Leisure activity is an important way to achieve balance. Physicians will find the stressors of leisure enjoyable in part because they are so different from the common stressors of professional life. Leisure activity will also usually involve family and friends. However, leisure activity frequently contains stressors of its own that tend to arouse and fatigue, rather then renew.
Relaxation is different from doing nothing. Relaxation actually increases awareness and focuses the mind while resting the body. It is a time to be present, to reflect, and to process experiences and feelings. Systematic relaxation requires concentration and deliberate mental activity. It will lead to lower arousal and release of strain. It can be particularly helpful if the relaxation does not require physically leaving the home, e.g., pleasure reading, gardening, hobbies, and crafts.
For those finding it difficult to achieve this level of relaxation, many techniques are available. Physicians will frequently respond to meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, selective awareness, self-hypnosis, somatics, yoga, breath control, and biofeedback. Many techniques have audiotapes available to help guide one conveniently through the learning process. For some, religious beliefs and activities may fulfill the need for relaxation. The important common denominator is quiet time that allows for personal reflection, integration, and planning.
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