Relaxation won't cure your pain, but it can help you with the following:
• Reduce anxiety and conserve energy.
• Increase your self-control while dealing with stress.
• Help you recognize the difference between tense muscles and relaxed ones.
• Help you physically and emotionally handle your daily demands.
• Help you remain alert, energetic, and productive.
Keep in mind that the benefits of relaxation are only as good as your efforts. Learning to relax takes time, so being patient with the process is encouraged.
Tips to help you succeed and help you grow accustomed to relaxing
If relaxation is new to you, you may not notice immediate benefits. You may even feel uncomfortable at first.
Work on your relaxation skills at least once or twice a day until they come naturally to you.
When you're beginning, a quiet place along with a relaxation tape often helps you ease into it.
Get comfortable. Wear clothes that are comfortable and remove your shoes and belt, if necessary.
Practice relaxation at different times throughout the day. The idea is to learn how to relax whenever you need to.
Be patient. A wandering mind is normal when you start out. Just keep bringing your attention back to relaxation.
Try morning breathing when you first get up to relieve muscle stiffness and clogged breathing passages. Then use it throughout the day to relieve tension.
Bend forward from the waist with your knees slightly bent, letting your arms dangle close to the floor.
As you inhale slowly and deeply, return to a standing position by rolling up slowly, lifting your head last.
Hold your breath for just a few seconds in this standing position.
Exhale slowly as you return to the original position.
This is a technique to help relax tense muscles.
Step 1- sit or lie down on your back in a comfortable and quiet room. Close your eyes.
Step 2- make tight fists, hold them for five seconds, and then relax your hands. Do this three times. Pay attention to the different sensations that come with tension and relaxation.
Repeat step 2 with all your muscle groups: arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips, thighs, lower legs, and feet.
NOTE: At first, it may take about 20 minutes. With practice, you'll be able to do this in about five minutes.
Meditation helps settle the mind so you can think calmly throughout the day. The goal is not for immediate relaxation but to increase serenity. Meditation puts you in control of your thoughts by forcing you to be present and in the moment and to observe your thought process. There is no point in starting to meditate unless you intend to make it a habit as you won't reap its benefits unless you practice on a regular basis.
In the early stages, meditate for 10 to 15 minutes once or twice a day depending on your schedule. Increase this to 20 minutes no more than twice a day.
Choose a quiet room where you won't be interrupted.
Take time to relax, don't rush into it.
When you are thoroughly relaxed and breathing slowly and evenly, close your eyes. Slowly repeat a word that sounds pleasant over and over in your mind as you breathe in and out. Continue in this state for 10-20 minutes. Alternatively, you could put on some soothing instrumental music (a lot of it is available in music stores and even online) and then listen to it.
To come back, pay attention to your breathing. Be aware of your body and your posture. Open your eyes and look around the room. After a minute or so, stand up and stretch.
With practice, you will eventually reach the point when you'll feel detached from your body and your physical surroundings while meditating. The world will fade from your awareness; you'll be in touch with your innermost self, deeply relaxed and thoroughly energized.
NOTE: Meditation can be overdone to the point where you are completely cut off from feelings of anxiety. This isn't healthy. Everyone needs a certain amount of stress in order to function.
Light a candle or a Diya in front of you.
Concentrate on the flame.
Spend time just looking at the flame glowing and flickering.
If you feel like it, after some time close your eyes and look at the image in your mind. Some people prefer to just keep their eyes open and look at the flame, which is okay too.
Slowly open your eyes after you feel completely at ease.
If done correctly, stretching can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Never bounce when you stretch - you could injure your muscles. Do these exercises for five or ten minutes.
Decide what muscles to stretch.
As you stretch, think about one area being stretched; imagine the tension leaving as you gently take these areas to their comfortable limit.
Exhale into the stretch; inhale on the release. Breathe deeply and slowly - do not hold your breath.
Close your eyes for better awareness of your body's responses.
Relieving stiff muscles
Sit up straight and inhale.
Exhale as you let your head move down to your chest. You'll feel a gentle stretch on the back of your neck and your shoulders.
Roll your right ear toward your right shoulder while inhaling. Drop your chin to your chest again while exhaling. Repeat to the left.
Drop your arms to your sides and push both shoulders forward. Slowly raise them towards your ears and circle them back and downward to the starting point. After two or three rotations, change directions.
Going for a walk can clear your mind, reduce tension and increase energy. Walking can help by providing a needed escape and it may increase the brain's production of endorphins (naturally occurring chemicals that relax and re-energize).
Here's an exercise to help you practice deep, relaxed diaphragmatic breathing. Practice it throughout the day until it becomes natural so that you can use it readily when you feel stressed.
Lie down on your back or sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor.
Rest one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest.
Inhale through your nose while pushing your abdomen out.
Slowly exhale through your nose while gently relaxing your abdomen. Make each breath a smooth, wave-like motion.
If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, breathe through your mouth.
Practicing this way will make it easier to use in stressful situations
Choose a word or phrase that is a cue for you to relax, and then repeat it. While repeating the word or phrase, try to breathe deeply and slowly and think of something that gives you sensations of warmth.
Also known as visualization, this method of relaxation involves lying quietly and picturing yourself in a pleasant and peaceful setting. You experience the setting with all your senses as if you were there. For instance, imagine lying on the beach. Picture the beautiful blue sky, smell the salt water, hear the waves, and feel the warm breeze on your skin. The messages your brain receives as you experience these senses help you to relax.
There are varied options, some may or may not work for you. Try them out and see which suits you the best and then practice it regularly.
If you would like to discuss this further or need some help or support in this or any other area, our counsellors would be happy to help.