Relaxation Techniques to Help You Slow Down
Article by Kim Archer
Your fast-paced life can cause you to push your mind and body to the limit, sometimes at the price of your physical and mental health. Yet there’s no reason for your life to be filled with anxiety and stress. You can learn to slow down your body and calm your mind by learning some relaxation techniques.
People face stress, both physical and mental, on an ongoing basis. When you become stressed, changes occur in your body as it revs up the “fight or flight response.” These changes include elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing, and a huge boost in the amount of blood being transported to your muscles. If your stress is ongoing, these reactions will have a very negative long-term impact on your health.
While some stress can help in the short term by sharpening your responses or giving you motivation, in the longer term it can cause health problems.
How do you know if you’re stressed? Here are some symptoms that may indicate excessive levels of stress. You might be so habitually tense that you think these feelings are normal!
* tense muscles
* pounding or racing heart
* hyperventilating; feeling light-headed or faint
* persistent tiredness or exhaustion
* aches and pains
* trouble sleeping
* waking up tired
* loss of appetite
* minor ailments such as headaches, migraines or stomach upsets
* inability to concentrate or work effectively
* feeling rushed and pressured
These symptoms can also be caused by other medical problems, so it’s important to check with your doctor before assuming it’s “just stress”.
The good news is that we also possess the opposite of the “fight or flight response” – the “relaxation response.” This term refers to changes that occur in the body when it is in a deep state of relaxation, such as lowered blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and rate of breathing, as well as feelings of being calm and in control. The more relaxed you are the better your mind works.
Relaxation isn’t just about flopping down on the couch and grabbing the remote. There are numerous relaxation techniques which can be valuable tools for coping with stress and advancing your long-term health.
Relaxation techniques focus your attention on something calming and increase awareness of your body.
Following are a few of the more popular relaxation techniques. It doesn’t matter which technique you choose. What matters is that you consistently make time for relaxation.
Autogenic training technique. Autogenic means something that is produced within you. This technique uses both visual imagery and body awareness to move you into a deep state of relaxation. Imagine a peaceful place and then focus on different physical sensations. For example, you might focus on warmth and heaviness in the limbs, easy, natural breathing, or a calm heartbeat.
Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves slowly tensing and then releasing each muscle group individually, starting with the legs and moving up through the abdomen, back, neck, and face. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Concentrate on the difference between tension and relaxation, and how the muscles relax as the tension flows away.
Meditation. During meditation you deliberately calm the mind and control the flow of your thoughts. Your aim is to keep your mind tranquil in order to achieve clarity and inner peace. Find time to meditate for 10 or 15 minutes each day; through meditation you can easily detach from the stresses of your life.
Visualization. In this technique, you form images in your mind to take you on a virtual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. Try to imagine as much detail as possible. If you think about relaxing at the cottage, for example, think about stretching out in your deck chair, enjoying the lake view, feeling the warmth of the sun, hearing the sound of the birds, and tasting the refreshing drink in your hand.
Relaxation techniques take practice. Be patient with yourself. You’ll find it’s worth the effort as you experience a greater sense of calm and banish the negative impact of stress on your body.
About the Author
Kim Archer is publisher of The Internet Spa at http://www.internet-spa.com. Get the information you need to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit.