The power of switching off

We are always on. Our brains are constantly being stimulated by the endless streams of information and stimuli from our environment. Social media, Television, the internet, work, studies, driving. Life today is filled with stimuli, which is not a bad thing in itself it is the lack of balance that is the problem. We do all these things that flip the on switch, but when do we switch off? We train hard to challenge and better ourselves but how often do we cool down after the session.

We operate within two systems. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic is our fight, flight or fright system. This is the one that protects you when the tiger is chasing you. It is there to help you in situations that elicit a stress response in the body. The Parasympathetic system is the calming one, it is known as the rest and digest system. It is there to bring us back down, to create balance. With most people’s lives these days we are in a permanent state of being “on” to varying degrees we don’t switch off and give ourselves the best chance to rest and recover.

The consequence of not switching off is inadequate recovery, both mentally and physically. So how do we switch off?

Meditation

Meditation is a practice that generally uses breathing as a tool to train the mind or induce a state in the body. Studies have shown the benefits of meditation. There are many options to use. You can do a search for guided meditations. I use different ones at different times.

I use the following apps and guided meditations:

Pranayama

An app that is very simple. It’s customisable and with just a 5 min breathing exercise, that I generally do after training you get all of the relaxation

Headspace

A great app to introduce you to meditation and they have a free take 10 challenge you can do. Check out their video explaining it.

Sam Harris has a great article explaining meditation and has guided meditations that you can download and use.

Mobility

Having a mobility and stretching practice not only improves your quality of movement. It also helps you to relax and switch off at the end of the day. Spending time and really focusing on you most tight/ restricted areas is a good way to relax and switch off. I spend 10- 20 min in the dojo rolling out and stretching my hips, back and shoulders.

Epsom salt bath/ magnesium

Magnesium has many health benefits. It aids recovery and improves sleep. I generally just use magnesium spray after training. Though sometimes after a hard session an Epsom salt bath is a great option. A bath in itself is relaxing this with added magnesium makes it more awesome. Remember scented candles are optional. Just throw 1- 2 cups of Epsom salts in a bath and chill there for 20min.

There are many more things that you can do to flip the off switch. These are only the ones I have experience with if you have your own. Please share it in the comments.

by Llewellyn Morkel