Life can be stressful. Minimising your stress and building your stress resilience can increase your personal effectiveness. Relaxation is a useful additional tool to help you do so. However, it is not suitable for all, (it can result in a fall in blood pressure so if you have health concerns related to that or anything else, please check with your doctor first). Also, remember that relaxation is meant to be a positive experience. It is not hypnosis and you are in control throughout. If unpleasant or unwanted thoughts come into your mind and you are unable to focus and let them go, open your eyes to bring yourself back to being fully awake. You can begin again then or later.
Relaxation triggers the body's natural recuperative mechanism, the recovery response, reducing physical factors such as heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension and increasing blood flow to the brain.
Here I've recorded the Quick Relaxation Technique and a Deep Relaxation.
The recordings explain, and will remind you of, the process but it is not necessary to use them once you know what you are doing.
My thanks to Susanne Rix for sharing the techniques and allowing me to re-record her relaxations and to both Frank Dingwall and Adam Pain for recording them for you to download.
De-stress and enjoy!
Quick Relaxation Technique
Lower lung breathing is a quick relaxation technique. Once you've got the hang of it, this technique takes just 60 seconds and can be used several times a day, whenever you need to increase calm and to focus and clarify your thinking. It involves:
sitting comfortably in an upright chair (not a lounger), with your hands resting on your lap, your feet flat on the floor and your head comfortably aligned with your body (i.e. supported by your neck not leaning back on to a pillow or headrest).
allowing yourself to focus by closing your eyes or, if you prefer to keep them open, lowering and de-focussing your eyes to create a calm space for yourself.
taking three slow, long breaths, deep down into your diaphragm, then releasing the tension in different muscle groups in your body as you exhale. (The three deep breaths will be interspersed with a few normal breaths to avoid hyperventilation.)
then counting from 1 to 5 to come back to wakefulness
Deep Relaxation Technique
The aim of this longer relaxation, about 20 minutes, is to achieve mental and physical relaxation - without falling asleep - that will leave you feeling energetic and alert, yet calm and clear headed. The more often you practise relaxation the more effective it becomes. Find 20 minutes for a relaxation as part of your daily routine, in the morning, at lunch-time or during the afternoon, and it will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to continue your day.
First, make sure you won't be disturbed for about 20 minutes,
then, as for the Quick Relaxation Technique, settle into an upright, sitting position (with your hands resting on your lap, your feet flat on the floor and your head comfortably aligned with your body, supported by your neck not leaning back on to a pillow or headrest);
close or lower your eyes.
This relaxation begins with the three deep breaths interspersed with normal breaths, as in the Quick Relaxation Technique.
You then follow a process of progressively relaxing each of the different parts of your body by first tensing a specific muscle group and then immediately releasing the tension to raise awareness of the difference.
Having released the tension in all the main muscle groups, your body will feel quite relaxed. Keeping your eyes closed, allow your mind to focus for a few minutes on the different parts of your body, consciously noticing the feeling in your body when it is so deeply relaxed. Focussing in this way deepens the relaxation.
then count slowly from 1 to 10 to bring yourself gently back to wakefulness.
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