Relaxation is essential for anyone who’s interested in managing stress. And while relaxation enhances peace of mind, it also decreases the wear and tear on our minds and bodies from the challenges and hassles of every day life.
Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you’ve already got it tamed—everyone can benefit from using relaxation techniques. Unfortunately, relaxation oftentimes takes a back seat in life’s busy-ness.
Most health professionals—alternative, complementary, traditional, and integrative—encourage their clients to use relaxation techniques.
A relaxation technique is something that refocuses your attention to a calm awareness. It doesn’t matter which relaxation method you choose, what matters is that you engage in the practice regularly so that you can reap the many benefits:
– Slowing your heart rate
– Lowering blood pressure
– Slowing your breathing rate
– Increasing blood flow to major muscles
– Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
– Improving concentration
– Reducing anger and frustration
– Boosting confidence to handle problems
There’s a wide brushstroke of relaxation techniques:
In your mind’s eye you might imagine a peaceful place and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate. Use as many senses as you can. For example, if you imagine yourself at the ocean, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves, and the warmth of the sun.
Another method is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
Other relaxation techniques include, yoga, tai chi, listening to music, exercise, meditation, and self-hypnosis.
The moment you feel stress symptoms sneaking up on you, make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique. If you nip it in the bud, it can prevent stress from spiraling out of control.
What was the most recent relaxation technique you used?
“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
– Laurie Buchanan
© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved.
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I consciously listened to the rain tapping on the tin roof last as I prepared for sleep.
As always, great post Laurie.
Terrill – I can well imagine the sound of rain as mezmerizing – great for relaxation.
I have been needing some relaxation in the past couple of weeks…have not been feeling well…will write a blog about it either today or tomorrow. This morning during meditation I breathed really really deeply into the areas of the body not feeling well. If you breathe deep enough, a wonderful feeling of relaxation will fill you. Lovely post!
Kathy D. – I’ll be looking for the post (today or tomorrow) about how you’ve been feeling. Like you, one of my favorite ways to relax is with d-e-e-p breathing.
I like R the best, because of C, L, and W. Love, Mona XXXXXOOOOO
Good morning, Mona – Somehow I just knew you’d feel that way 🙂
Got in yesterday
Sleeping in today!
Kim – I hope you had yourself a good rest! I look forward to seeing you tomorrow (Fri).
During prep for surgery yesterday, I had on the finger heart monitor. So I was listening to it an trying to get it to slow down. I DID IT!!!
Now I’m relaxing on my couch. Even though it’s relaxing, it’s also stressful because I can’t accomplish what I want. Oh well….
Lots of videos, books and butt clenching, leg clenching and hand weights for me!
Right now I have a SWING DVD in the computer while I work!
Beth – I have a small biofeedback machine (it’s called “emwave”) I can see my heartbeat with and then, like you, slow it down by intent. Very cool! Don’t you dare cheat and get up and dance around and do high-flyin’ kicks! I know you well enough to know you might just try it. Give that food a serious rest and let it heal. You’ll be on the dance floor again real soon.
I do have trouble with stress. I’ve suffered from many stress related diseases. The most recent–shingles.
On this idyllic island, it’s hard to understand why.
I’ve tried many techniques including meditation, exercise, journalling and humour. Right now I’m enjoying one of my favourite radio programs–The Debaters. Despite the title it is a very funny show.
Leanne – Shingles … yowza! I’ve only ever had one client who suffered through that pain. The great news is you don’t let it stop you – you’ve got a new book coming out soon, and I for one can hardly wait 🙂
Oh, it’s a dog’s life for sure…fur coat, nice sofa, owner’s respecting your space and providing the groceries. Still it has it’s limitations, can’t hold a book, a driver’s license or a bank card. All un-necessary to dog, I suppose.
I’ve had two days off in a row after a seven-day work week and I’ll admit it, I took a page from the doggie’s handbook, I stayed in a relaxed position as much as it was possible and practical for me to do so. One the other hand I paid bills, ran errands, did some cleaning and refurbished the Chicken Ladies Condo. I reupholstered with nice bales of fresh straw and remade the beds with clean,good-smelling pine shavings. While I performed this labor of love, they relaxed after a fine meal of homemade spaghetti with a mushroom sauce (I was tired of it two days ago, they were welcome to it), and gossiped together about whether or not I was taking the right care of myself. I find it very relaxing to visit with them, trade a joke and a cackle or so, then walk off and leave them to their own society. I find that doing the things I want to do, as opposed to doing things I don’t want to do, as relaxing as a short walk, a brief chat with my neighbors, checking the grape vines or any piddling thing that has no real material value. It refreshes my Spirit and helps to keep it from getting tired of my Body and leaving in a huff. Now, I have a good book to read, excuse me.
Sandi – I love the comment you’ve left here, it cracks me up! I can just see the Chicken Ladies and their condo – and you working your buns off to please those ungrateful biddies (loving every moment of it).
My favorite relaxation technique is a shamanic journey. Today, I did yoga and the instructor brought the gong and did a gong meditation — that is always delightful. And tonight, I had the best relaxer of all: it is my darling January’s 9th birthday so I spent two hours with her and her dad and his family celebrating my ninth anniversary of being a grandma (she thought that was hysterical). When I am tense, I just go find where the love is.
Barbara – happy, Happy, HAPPY 9th birthday to 9-year-old January – Whoohoo!
Again, a vital component in maintaining good health and maximizing the potential for creativity and job success. My family always attributed my paternal grandfather’s run of 96 years to afternoon naps, early evening retirements and daily intake of lemon water and escarole. But I would have to believe that restlessness would have a domino effect on other health-related difficulties and would lead in all probability to some serious complications.
Here I am leaving this comment at 1:29 A.M. in the morning after returning home about an hour ago from the Takemitsu Festival in Manhattan. Yeah, I’m preaching to others about the importance of rest, and I’ll certainly remember that when I awaken in six hours to attend Thursday’s school day! Ha!
All kidding aside, I realize it’s getting into a pattern that matters most, and there will naturally be instances where you will be short-changed. I rarely have difficulties falling asleep, especially after a work day.
Sam – Good grief (1:29am!). The students are probably gonna find you curled up in the leg-cubby of your desk taking a wee nap today 🙂 I can hardly wait to read about your adventure in your Monday Morning Diary over on Wonders in the Dark!
You hit the nail on the head when you said, “I realize it’s getting into a pattern that matters most…” Yes! getting relaxation on a hit-or-miss basis isn’t nearly as effective as an intentional regimen – like your grandpa who lived to be 96!
I read one of you blogs… I go for walks with my dogs and my camera…
I am Love, Jeff
Jeff – And the payoff for the rest of us is getting to see some of your delicious photography over on The Reluctant Blogger.
Thank you for the plug!
Disconnect from electronics and run away to the Bahamas, ok, Eleuthera. Experience cultural immersion of an out island and live each moment fully. If I can not board a plane just yet, closing my eyes and mentally going there works great too.
Lisa – I just KNEW you were going to say that 🙂
Great post – thanks Laurie
Reading a book would be my most recent relaxation technique. It seems to be an effective way of getting my brain off the problems it has been dealing with, and creating a bit of space. I’m about half way through Jared Diamond’s “The Third chimpanzee” and just into the second chapter of Roger Penrose’s “The emperor’s new mind” – both of which are excellent. My brain is busy critiquing both, but at least it gives it a break from day to day stuff 😉
Ted – Like you, I find reading to be very relaxing (but then again, I only read one book at a time) 🙂
I like to read in the toilet (helps relaxation 😉
Usually I have a stack of magazines in there, and sometimes a book on top of the stack (That is where “The 3rd Chimpanzee” is currently residing).
The other location for books is my bedside table. It has a couple of stacks of books on it. And the front stack has “The emperor’s new mind” at the top.
Ted – I’m cracking up! 🙂
Thanks as always Laurie for your kindness and for the plug here!
It’s my pleasure, Sam 🙂
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