Findings Ways to Relax and Download
What will You gain from Relaxation Techniques?
Learning a Relaxation Technique will help you develop the skill of diffusing the effects of the stress response.
When you are stressed, the body initiates numerous changes readying you for the ‘Flight or Fight’ response. Over the short term these body changes are not of concern, but a prolonged stress response as associated with many modern stressors (work, emotional, relationship issues), as opposed to primitive stressors (attacks from cave bears and sabre tooth tigers) can contribute to almost all major diseases.
But that’s not all!
Of course, in the short term, you will also learn to be calmer, more settled and decision making will be improved through better concentration. Clarity is therefore enhanced and work capacity improved.
So you don’t have Time for Relaxation?
Then make time for chronic stress and decreased work performance. It’s as simple as that.
Can I just watch Television instead?
No. Television is both engaging and fractured by commercial breaks such that you do not deactivate. It is recreation, not relaxation, and the two, while both healthy in moderation, have different effects.
How does Relaxation relate to Exercise?
They are different poles that can both be used to down regulate the stress response. Exercise is very good at burning off the hormonal effects of the stress response. In effect ,you are using what you are meant to, by mimicking the chase, the hunt, the conflict of the primitive stress response.
On the other hand, the relaxation response addresses the background state itself, encouraging the body to switch off the neurological, hormonal and other biochemical processes that are driving the stress response. In effect, engaging with relaxation is competing with whatever is stressing you for control of your neurological system.
What about Meditation and Relaxation?
They are related but not the same. Meditation is predominantly directed towards concentration, relaxation to letting go. Although these two aims may appear opposites, in fact they can merge during meditation for meditation leads to a synchronized calming of the body when achieved successfully.
Thus Meditation can be used as a means of achieving Relaxation.
What about Yoga classes?
Yoga classes are excellent as they address both the exercise and relaxation components of effects based stress management. Yoga is very good for people who find muscle tension limits their attempt to relax as the asanas (postures) intrinsically ‘work out’ the tension. Unfortunately this is not the case with aerobic or weighted exercise where the contrast in aims is too great.
Tai chi combined with qi gong provides a similar benefit.
What about a Bath?
Fantastic! This, perhaps, is the best relaxation technique of all, short of what you can do with the assistance of others (e.g. massage). Flotation environments such as hydrotherapy pools and float tanks can also provide nurturing environments for relaxation.
So how do I Begin?
There are many types of Relaxation techniques yet in general they all begin by finding a place where you can be calm and not interrupted. Remove all phones, turn off all lights. Lay or sit in a comfortable position, shoes off. Loosen clothing.
What about my Breathing?
Most Relaxation Techniques start by slowing your breathing in a comfortable manner. You may be guided towards ten deep breaths, or counting back from 10. You should not in any way try to deliberately control your breathing technique, as this is not breath control (in Yoga, ‘Pranayama’)
And After This?
There are as many varied Relaxation Techniques as individually unique as you are. You may have to trial several techniques until you feel comfortable. Often if you are a ‘thinker’, simple techniques such as focusing on breathing, muscle contraction/relaxation etc paradoxically may not engage you enough as it allows your mind to drift.
Instead you may try some of the Guided or Creative Visualisations that ‘trick’ the mind with a story into finding a state of relaxation.
So give us an Example of different Relaxation Techniques
Focus on Breathing (e.g. The Calm Technique – Paul Wilson)
Active Contract Relax
Passive Contract Relax
Watching the Mind (Mindfulness Meditation)
Focus on Peace, Love or any other positive emotion or concept.
Focus on a happy memory
Focus on a natural calming environment
Music – Ambient or Classical
New Age Style Chakra or White Light Relaxations
So How do I Choose?
Start with whatever technique feels most comfortable to you and see if you feel comfortable. Do not, however, assume you will automatically see results. It is how natural it feels to you that will guide you to begin with.
How long should I do a Relaxation technique?
20 minutes, 1-2 times per day is a good start.
When will I Notice Significant Changes?
Usually after about three weeks.
What if I Don’t think it is Working?
Most people who struggle with relaxation need its benefits more than those who find it easier. You may be highly strung, making relaxation harder to achieve.
Consider changing whatever technique you are using. Another alternative is to seek out a structured environment to begin with such as a class where you are not responsible for the process. For the reasons outlined above a Yoga or Tai chi class may be very beneficial to the relaxation resistance person.
How can I get the Most Benefit out of my Relaxation Training?
There are several ways to get additional benefits out of relaxation. The first is to practice relaxation within an increasingly challenging environment. Ultimately, this will help you initiate relaxation in a stressful situation in order to help you think more clearly. In line with this you might consider anchoring your state of relaxation with a phrase or gesture that can be used as a trigger response when you are stressed.
Relaxation can also be used within other more complicated emotional and cognitive techniques (e.g. NLP) yet you will only be able to benefit if you have first effectively trained yourself to relax.