Knowing how to relax is crucial for your mental and physical health. You will find that relaxation is a great buffer against stress and the demands of everyday life.
Most of us know of activities that give us pleasure and help us to unwind. It could be something simple, like reading a book, or having an afternoon nap.
Often, it could be something more. Here are a few approaches to the art of relaxation that you can try.
After a hard day of work or school, most people find it a relief to unwind through some form of physical activity.
It could be some low intensity exercises, such as yoga or tai chi, which help to increase flexibility, muscle strength and joint mobility.
Or it could aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming, cycling and dancing. These can help strengthen the cardiovascular system and increase stamina. A game of tennis, squash or golf can also leave you feeling revitalised.
All forms of exercise are effective in countering fatigue, insomnia and depression.
Creative activities do more than just reducing stress and promoting relaxation. They can be fun, enriching and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Painting, pottery, knitting and photography can all provide peaceful distractions or deep satisfaction. Even listening to music can allow you to ‘just be’ instead of always striving.
Complete relaxation involves switching off the stimuli from the environment as much as possible, so that both the mind and body can be at rest.
Progressive relaxation, autogenic training and meditation are recognised techniques in complete relaxation. Select one that suits you best and practise it regularly.
All you need is a little time and commitment. The more often you practise, the more adept you will become at relaxation.
What is Progressive Relaxation
Progressive Relaxation is a deep muscle relaxation technique to relieve physical tension. It was developed in 1929 by an American physician, Dr Edmund Jacobson.
In the course of a day, we face many challenges at work, at home and in our environment. We react to this stress with tension, both mental and muscular.
This technique calls for tensing and relaxing of different muscles in the body. It helps us learn to contrast the sensations of tension with that of relaxation. By tensing and relaxing muscles from head to toe, we can achieve whole body relaxation.
Learn the Technique of Progressive Relaxation
Progressive relaxation can be easily learned and applied daily to reduce tension. The following is a procedure for achieving deep muscle relaxation quickly.
Repeat each step at least once. Tense each muscle group from 5 to 7 seconds, and then relax it from 20 to 30 seconds. Remember to notice the contrast between the sensations of tension and relaxation.
What is Autogenic Training
Doctors throughout Europe have been practising Autogenic Training since 1910. The technique was developed by the German physician, Dr Johannes Schulz.
Autogenic Training is based on auto-hypnotic methods. It induce certain types of body changes when we become quiet, such as a heavy feeling, warmth, regular heartbeat and regular breathing.
This technique needs to be done in a quiet environment, with a passive attitude and through silent repetition of a verbal formula.
Learn the Technique of Autogenic Training
Professional guidance is recommended.
What is Meditation
Meditation can be quick and effective in creating a deep state of relaxation. It teaches you to focus uncritically on one thing at a time. This skill of passive concentration can be applied to other areas of your life to increase your effectiveness in whatever you do.
There are many ways to meditate. All you need is a quiet place, a comfortable position, a passive attitude, and an object to dwell upon. It can be a word or sound, an object or symbol, even a specific thought.
Learn the Technique of Meditation
Professional guidance is recommended.
Below is the Relaxation Response – a meditation technique developed by Dr Herbert Benson.
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