A recent fitness and health report indicated one commonality that diet, exercise, and rest are affected by. It’s one thing everyone can work toward improving. It’s intuitive, yet the first thing many people forego. It takes little time and focus, but the return is well worth the investment.

What is it? Relaxation, de-stressing, and recovery.

Over 100,000 clients in a nutrition program were polled, and asked what their biggest obstacles were for the big three categories: diet, exercise, and rest.

On the diet category 63 percent of respondents said that their biggest challenge was stress, or emotional eating. Surely, everyone reading this can think of a time when the Oreo sundae helped with a tough week, or the extra few glasses of wine were needed to unwind. This leads to binge eating, stress-management snacking, and over-indulgence thanks to the hedonistic voice in our heads.

Next time life is getting stressful and that piece of candy looks entertaining, ask: Is this going to end the stress?

Over 60 percent of people when asked about exercise replied their biggest challenge was the demands of everyday life. In our times, there is always something demanding attention. E-mail, meetings, volunteering, local PTA, social events. Most of these are put before exercise. Once our schedule is bursting with activity, the need to exercise creates a stressful resentment toward our own self-image.

Last of the three is rest, and in this category nearly 60 percent reported lying in bed feeling stressed, upset, or nervous. This isn’t the ideal restful night and often creates sleeplessness. All of these emotions stem from not taking the time or energy to relax and de-stress. A restful night includes eight hours of sleep. According to this report, only 50 percent of people even get seven hours. This makes the challenges discussed above even more unbearable. And those challenges can be exacerbated by the sometimes-hectic pace of the holiday season, with all of its obligations and temptations.

The solution, while easy to lay out, is harder to practice. Rest and relaxation mean something different to each person. A few common traits of a good relaxation technique include:

•?Light exercise or activity which allows for uninterrupted quiet time. This can be a walk, bike ride, swim, hike, etc. An activity in which screens and distractions aren’t present. Talking with someone, playing with the dog, crafting, cooking, knitting, all of these get someone away from the screen for a time to let the mind create its own happy space.

•?Taking the focus away from the inner voice and conscious reel of thought is another relaxing technique. Lie down, sit, or relax and focus on one breath at a time, deep breath in and out, focusing on the body, rather than thought.

•?Before bed, turn off the screens, enjoy a book or a magazine, listen to music, turn the lights down low, sip tea and let the body relax before taking its much-needed rest.

Don’t take this advice as a one-size-fits-all solution. Find what works for you. The most important thing is that a moment or two of real relaxation can go a long way.