Release Relax Renew
In the "Relaxation Room" we will give you various techniques to assist you in your quest for relaxation, peace of mind and balance. These techniques are not to be used as a substitute or means of actual medical care. Please consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating any new health routines into your lifestyle.
Our focus here will be on RELAXATION. It's a common enough word, yet very few of us have had much experience with real relaxation. By "real relaxation" we mean something different from exercising or just zoning out, different from socializing or pursuing some distraction like TV or a book. Real relaxation is a focused, intentional period of time during which one is mindful and alert, and yet one's muscles are relaxed. It's not necessarily as easy as it might sound. But when you become good at it, it probably will restore energy and boosts your mood and performance levels better than any of the other activities. We encourage you, therefore, to learn some relaxation techniques and to make them a part of your normal daily routine. This can be done in as little as a few minutes a day, or ideally for half an hour daily. Be mindful to take care of yourself...the whole you, Mind, Body & Spirit. Below, are several such relaxation techniques.
The first step in self-care is caring about you. If you don't care about you, you're unlikely to take care of yourself. Here, we're going to keep it simple, also knowing that just practicing self-care and relaxation is a way of learning to care more about you.
The 3 R's of Self-Care
1. RECOGNIZE your own signs of stress (e.g., shallow breathing, digestive changes, skin problems, trouble sleeping, irritability). 2. Develop healthy ROUTINES (e.g., balanced meals, exercise, time with friends, pursuing interests, sleep). 3. Learn and practice RELAXATION (e.g., breathing exercises, meditation, yoga).
Note: These and all relaxation exercises contain the following four components: (1) a quiet environment, (2) a mental device to help you focus away from thoughts that are distracting and perhaps stressful, (3) a passive attitude (relaxation cannot be forced to occur; it is a state that you can only allow to happen), and (4) a comfortable position that allows muscle tension to be released.
Sample relaxation exercises (choose your favorite(s) and repeat daily):
- Body scan -- In a comfortable position, focus on your exhalations; exhale and relax. For several exhalations, focus on the supporting environment (eg. bed, floor, chair) and allow it to support your body. Sink into it. Following these exhalations, allow your mind to wander through your body, in any sequence that occurs. As you "move" through the body, identify any sensations you notice (heaviness, warmth, heartbeat, contact with the floor, gurgling in the stomach, muscle tightness, stillness). Upon identifying a sensation, mentally acknowledge it. If it is muscle tension, take a moment to relax that area, and then continue to wander through the body, passively searching for other sensations. You will notice that the number of sensations diminishes after a few minutes. As the mind continues to focus inward on the body, the mind will become quiet. This can be a very pleasant way to drop off to sleep.
- Observe your breathing -- Take a few minutes simply to observe your breathing. Don't try to change it. Simply observe it passively.
- "Reverse" breathing -- Again, focus on your breathing, but this time start the cycle with your exhalation. Continue for several cycles, focusing especially on the exhalations.
Practice these techniques several times until you become comfortable and began to experience the joy of relaxing. Sit back relax, there is more to come.