Relaxation Methods

The result of relaxation is relaxation response which in effect, is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response to stressful or threatening situations that over time may produce hypertension, cardiac and other problems which may seriously affect our health. It was found that relaxing just 20 minutes each day could be beneficial to both your physical and mental health. The Relaxation Response can be practised by anyone, at any time.

Here is what you need: (i) A quiet environment - This can be a quiet room at home or at the office, a place of worship, or a place outdoors where you can be completely alone with no distractions. (ii) A comfortable position - Assume a comfortable position. Sitting with a straight spine is preferable, although you can also sit cross-legged or in the lotus position. Do not lie down as this may result in falling asleep. (iii) A point of focus - This can be a special word or phrase that you repeat throughout the session. You can practise with your eyes closed or focus them on an object. (iv) A passive attitude - Do not worry about your thought processes during a relaxation session. Distracting thoughts are difficult to eliminate. Just let them happen but continue to concentrate on your chosen point of focus.

There are a variety of methods to relieve your stress and you may need to explore different techniques to discover which one best suits you. Once you have found a technique that works for you, it is important to take the time and effort to make such practise a regular routine, as benefits compound over time. Here are a few of the relaxation techniques you may wish to try, all of which are a variation on the relaxation response.

Simple Relaxation Technique: Relaxation techniques are a great way to help your quest for stress management. Relaxation isn't just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the wear and tear of life's challenges on your mind and body.
  • Sit in a comfortable position (keeping a straight spine)
  • Close your eyes
  • Scan your body for any tightness
  • Progressively relax all the muscles of your body
  • Begin to breath slowly, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
  • As you exhale, repeat your chosen word or phrase (for e.g., ‘relax’). If thoughts keep intruding don’t dwell on them, simply note them and continue to repeat your chosen word(s).
  • Continue doing this for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Practise this technique early or late in the day for optimum results but wait at least two hours after having a meal.
Deep Breathing Exercise: Deep breathing can be done anytime, anywhere. Deep breathing provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the body to release endorphins, which are naturally occurring hormones that re-energize and promote relaxation.
  • Slowly inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen before allowing air to fill your lungs.
  • Reverse the process as you exhale.
  • Do this exercise for three to five minutes whenever you feel tense.
Visualization: Visualization is the art and skill of creating a mental model of an event or situation. It is controlled, directed, and purposeful.
  • Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable.
  • Sit down.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe slowly.
  • Become aware of each breath.
  • Concentrate on how your body feels.
  • Now try focusing on one peaceful thought, or create a picture in your mind of a beautiful place.
  • If your mind wanders back to the problem creating the stress, make yourself return to the peaceful thought and stay there for a few minutes.

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