- Mental Health
RELAXATION - HOW TO DO IT, WHEN TO USE IT
I decided to write this hub because there are people I know, including some very special hubbing buddies, who will probably know who they are, who are experiencing problems with various mental and physical ailments. I thought that they, like me will find the things that I have put in this hub very useful in helping them to be able to totally relax and enjoy their lives once more. To be able to put all their bad thoughts out of their minds, and concentrate on more important things, like for a good example, WRITING GREAT HUBS
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Relaxation is the process of voluntarily letting go of our physical tension. I wonder how many people really know how to relax. How many of us come home from our very stressful teaching jobs, or the cranky boss that you just can't please, or even the day that the computer crashed. Wow, we are all blessed with this from time to time. Probably too many times to mention. We come home, close the eyes, maybe have that lovely ever refreshing cup of our most favourite cup of tea, which usually for me is never there on the days when I really could do with a good cuppa. Yes, well we all have them, don't we. Wouldn't it be even better then still, if not only did you have that cuppa, but also a good Relaxation Strategy. It is not hard to achieve this, as I found out.
When we are stressed, we often will experience physical changes in our bodies, such as physical tension, our breathing patterns will sometimes change from slow , deep breaths, to short shallow breaths, Changes like these can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, sore muscles in our backs and necks and sometimes other discomforts as well which can differ from person to person.
Because of all the problems we are faced with during our busy working day, I have found that having Relaxation Strategies made it a lot easier for me to cope. In fact, these are bital coping behaviours. If you use these strategies like I do, you will find that when you have to deal with stressfull situations that they will enabe you to remain physically calm and in control. This then will stop you getting all worked up, as we, let's face it, all do, and agitated as well. To start, basically there are two types of Relaxation Strategies:
The first is a slow breathing exercise or it can also be referred to as "breathing re-training". You do this by focusing on slow and deliberate breathing patterns to keep yourself in a calm and relaxed state.
SLOW BREATHING EXERCISES
This type of breathing exercise is designed to enable us to calmly restore our breathing pattern when we start to feel anxious about anything or uneasy and nervous. Let's face it, we have all been in similar circumstances, where you get the sweaty palms and twitching on your seat. See, I can see you going red from here.
I have outlined below here some steps that I have found help me a lot when I am feeling very anxious about something, which by the way, is so many time lately. Now I know that some of you would have to be in the same boat, if we are being honest with ourselves, am I right?
- Hold your breath and count t 5 (do not take a deep breath)
- When you get to 5, breathe out again and say the word RELAX very quietly to yourself in a very calm and soothing manner. If you find it hard like I did, try saying it out aloud first, then it becomes easier to say it more silently to yourself. This is a very good technique I found out as well, especially if you are not on your own and you can't really stop feeling nervous and anxious. I mean, who will know what you are doing. We all have to breathe, don't we. Go on, give it a go, go on, it does work, I can honestly say it does work for me.
- Breathe in and out slowly through your nose in a 6 second cycle. Now breathe in for 3 more seconds, and then out for 3 seconds more You will get a breathing rate of 10 breaths per minute when you do this. One thing to remember again when you are breathing out, say the word relax (I know it sounds a bit silly, I thought so too, but it does work for so many reasons)
- After each minute (ie after taking 10 breaths) try holding your breath again for another 5 seconds and then continue breathing again using that same 6 second cycle
- Continue your breathing in this way, until you actually feel that those anxious and nervy uncomfortable feelings have gone away, and believe me that in time and with practise you will see that this is the case with you as I did.
The second type of Relaxation Strategy is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. You are probably thinking, what is that and how is it different from the other one? This strategy not only addresses your breathing but it also enables you to Relax your Whole Body. Now, how good does that feel, I am starting to relax just thinking about it and it happens by systematically contracting and relaxing all of your muscle groups. Sounds hard doesn't it, and it did happen that way with me. However, the fact is that it can be achieved, it just takes a bit of time and lots of practice, especially in my case, to get it right.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
This particular type of relaxation is a much more comprehensive way that you can use to reduce the amount of physical tension you are feeling. Muscle Relaxation is useful when you have signs of anxiety, it can improve your sleep and can help in relieving physical symptoms caused by stress.
These steps below outline how to progressively relax all your muscles, incorporate pleasant imagery (imagine as I used to, a peaceful and serene scene) and help slow down your breathing. It normally takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to complete this exercise when I am very stressed and anxious about something. Like now, when I am worried about this mole on my leg, not good, but I am relaxing the way I should. Once you are more familiar with this exercise, you will be able to just whip right into it when you are feeling tension anywhere in your bodies.
Step 1. Find a quiet and Relaxing Place
Find yourself a comfortable chair to sit on and place it somewhere away from noise, (in other words, don't have it near the noisey TV or where the baby is screaming for a nappy change) just so long as you won't be interrupted by anyone or anything at all, unless it is important (oops I almost forgot, the biggest one of all Take the Phone of the Hook or at least Put the Answering Machine On. I'm sure you will agree with me when I say this because it can be the most annoying thing having the phone ring, just when you don't want it to, and this is definitely one of those times.
Step 2. Clear you mind of everything that doesn't matter and invoke Pleasant Imagery.
I found this one to be very difficult because you need to clear your mind of all of your worries and disturbing thoughts. I would get rid of some worries and then others would come along and take their place before I could stop them. But, I am getting better at keeping them out. The best part is to now focus your thoughts on something nice, imagine a beautiful scene or a pleasant memory from your past. I don't think too many people would have too much trouble if they tried hard enough to think of that beautiful beach on their romantic honeymoon, or the scene when their first baby came along. See again, there are so many thoughts that are far nicer that those horrible nasty ones that you are getting from time to time. You will see in time it get's easier to change your thought patterns to enable you to do this. Now just let the nasties float out of your mind without reacting to them. Just let your mind be focused on pleasant things.
Step 3. Relax All Your Muscles
For this exercise, which is another one that takes a bit of practice with it to get used to , I know that for sure, you are required to tense the muscles from each muscle group for at least 7 - 10 seconds, the relax them again for 10 seconds. Don't do this till it hurts, just moderately tense your muscles till you start to feel the least bit of discomfort, then stop. When I go that little bit to far, and it starts to really hurt, I know that is the time to stop and take a break.
When you do this exercise you should relax the muscle groups in the following order: start with the hands, move to lower arms, then your upper arms, onto the shoulders. After you have saisfied yourself that you have mastered these muscle groups, move to the neck, up to your forehead, and your scalp. It is really starting to feel good right now. Now try your eyes next, jaw and tongue should follow this. Once these are starting to relax a lot more, and not before, go to the stomach, upper back, your lower back should be the one you concentrate on now. Those cheeky butts have to be relaxed as well, no thighs, then your calves and last but not least your great big feet (only kidding)
Step 4. ENJOY THE FEELING OF RELAXATION
You have to allow yourself plenty of time to actually enjoy that wonderful feeling that you will have right now, probably some of you have never been this relaxed before you did my exercise strategy and followed it to this point in time. You deserve this feeling, that's what I tell myself and that is what you should do as well, tell yourself that this feeling belongs to you, and take the time to know how it feels to be really relaxed. Great feeling isn't it. You can have this anytime now, just follow my routine, you can't lose.
I have introduced you to the wonderful Relaxation Strategies that I have been taught to use to help me deal with letting go of physical tension and all the terrible thoughts that I was getting in my head and not being able to get rid of. Now, when anyone else who reads this hub, is in a similar position, they can do these exercises of breathing techniques and get back to a more normal state for sure.
You should try and practise these two techniques before you get too stressed so that when the time arrives, when you are really badly stressed, you will be so good at these, you will be able to effectively help yourself to calm down. So remember to practise relaxation techniques regularly so you will know how to relax yourself quickly and effectively during your more stressful situations. Both of these techniques worked for me when I needed them to.