A working mom wakes up in the morning. She makes the bed, cooks breakfast, prepares her kids for school, dresses herself and then off she leaves for work. Meanwhile, a college student prepares his morning routine, checks if he has all the reading stuff for school, then he starts the heavy day with exams. Another guy takes a warm shower, ready to face the demands of work while keeping up with the career. Whatever these people do on the daily basis, a typical day ends with a tired and weary body. Do you share their experience? At the end of a day’s work, do you feel any of these: tense muscles, heart pounding, hyperventilation, exhaustion, aches and pains or difficulty getting sleep? If yes, then you need to make time to relax and learn some techniques.
Relaxation can help reduce, if not, eliminate anxiety and relieve tensions. There are many relaxation techniques and they all have a common denominator – breathing and relaxation of muscles. If you feel you are not skillful to perform any of the techniques, don’t worry. It takes some time to practice. But once you learn, you will go a long way to be more effective in facing the daily battles of life.
Here are some relaxation techniques that you can learn:
- Relaxed breathing – Relaxed breathing is done three to five minutes. You can do this about two to three times a day, or when you need to calm down. Practice deep breathing at a regular time and choose a place where you are least likely to be disturbed. Loosed or remove any tight clothes, and make yourself as comfortable as possible. While sitting on a comfortable chair, make sure your head is well-supported. You can also choose to lie on the floor or on the bed. Place your arms on the chair arms, or flat on the floor or on the bed. Position your hands with your palms up and a bit away from the side of your body. Stretch out your legs if you’re lying down. Keep them hip-width apart or slightly wider. Don’t cross your legs if you’re sitting in a chair.
Focusing on your breathing is always the way to start with good relaxation. The way to do it is to breathe in and out slowly and in a regular rhythm to help you calm down. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Without forcing, fill up your entire lungs with air. You should feel your stomach swell as you breathe in. Breathe in slowly and regularly counting from one to five. Then breathe out slowly, counting from one to five. Continue this procedure until you feel calm. Make sure that you do not pause between breaths.
- Relaxing thoughts – In this technique, you replace stressful thinking with pleasant and relaxing thoughts. This form of “day-dreaming” can give you some benefits. Imagine somewhere that you would like to be. This real or imaginary place is where you can shove aside all the cares of the world for a few moments as you gradually begin to imagine the details of this place – including the sights, sounds and smell. From this imaginary “unwinding”, gradually return to your present world. Make sure that you bring the renewed feeling of life and energy back with you. This renewed energy is important as you face again your current circumstance.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. In this relaxation technique, focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. This way you increase your awareness of physical sensations because this exercise helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. One approach is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. You can also start with your head and neck and work down to your toes. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and then repeat this cycle.
- Toe tensing – This is done by alternately tensing and relaxing your toes. In this technique you actually draw tension from the rest of the body. First, lie on your back then close your eyes. Sense your toes then pull all 10 toes back toward your face. Count to 10 slowly. Now relax your toes and count again to 10 slowly. Repeat this cycle 10 times.
“Relaxation” University Counselling Service. University of Cambridge. http://www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/selfhelp/leaflets/relaxation
“Relaxation Techniques” Sleep Disorder Center, University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/sleep/relax_tech.htm
“Relaxation Tips for Stress” NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Stressmanagement/Pages/Relaxation.aspx
“Types of Relaxation Techniques”. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/relaxation-technique/SR00007/NSECTIONGROUP=2