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- Stress Management
Relaxation: Clearing Your Mind
Clear Your Mind
This is a basic exercise for anyone who wants to control stress. Positive stress can help you concentrate and focus, and in the distant past, it helped you survive. Your physical stress response helps you meet challenging (or threatening) situations everyday and is an automatic and essential fact of life. When you clear your mind, you don’t literally try to clear your mind , rather you try to concentrate on one pleasant thought, word, or image and let the rest of your worries slip away.
Since the “stress response” is a physical and emotional interaction, giving yourself a mental “break” can help relax your body. Initially you may feel like it is impossible to clear your mind. I know my mind doesn’t ever seem to stop thinking about something ! When you find other thoughts coming into your mind while you are trying to focus on your peaceful thought, word or image, don't try to stop them. Just observe them, and they will pass through. If you try to stop their entry, they persist.
Clearing your mind forms the basis for other relaxation techniques such as meditation and autogenics.
The Basic Technique:
1. Find 10-15 minutes during each day when you can practice this exercise. Reduce distractions, noise, and interruptions by selecting a place where you will not be interrupted, either outside or behind closed doors
2. Sit comfortably, loosen tight clothing, kick off your shoes, and relax your muscles. Then close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly and deeply as explained here.
3. Mentally focus on ONE peaceful word, thought, or image. If other thoughts enter your mind, just watch them go by, don’t be discouraged or get frustrated with them. If you just observe them, they will eventually stop. Just keep coming back to your peaceful word, thought, or image and keep breathing.
4. After 10-15 minutes stretch and exhale as you complete the exercise. With practice, clearing your mind can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next challenge in your day.
Clearing your mind helps you take a mental and physical break from the “outside world” and helps balance the stress of everyday life.
What is Autogenics
Autogenics is a technique that requires practice, time, and commitment—but the benefits you gain are well worth the investment. Start by practicing this twice each day, 10 minutes at a time. The basic idea of autogenic training is “mind over matter”, so by giving yourself mental “cues,” you can literally tell your body how to feel, and produce the “relaxation response” whenever you feel tense or under stress.
Produce the "Relaxation Response"
It is a progressive technique, which means, in a nutshell, that you start with a small part of your body, and as your body learns the “cues,” you add more areas until you can initiate the “relaxation response” throughout your body. With practice, within four to eight weeks, you may be able to produce this “relaxation response” with as little as five minutes of concentrated effort. As you progress, you’ll find that it is easier and easier to help your body relax when you “put your mind to it.”
1. Sit comfortably, loosen any tight clothing, close your eyes and try to clear your mind.
2. You may wish to breathe deeply once or twice and tell yourself “I feel calm,” “I feel quiet,” “my mind is at rest,” or some similar thought.
3. Now give yourself a mental suggestion, such as “my left arm feels heavy and warm.” As you repeat this “command,” you concentrate on actually feeling your left arm get heavier and warmer, until it starts to feel warmer and heavier.
4. Repeat the same “command” focusing on your right arm, then your left leg, then your right leg, and so on, until you feel completely relaxed.
5. Whenever it feels “right”—breathe deeply, stretch, and open your eyes as you finish the exercise. As you open your eyes, exhale slowly, and notice how you feel.
As you become better and better at this technique, you’ll be able to help your body relax anywhere, at any time.