Many people assume that relaxation techniques can only be learnt and practiced by joining an evening class such as yoga or meditation. However, there are many resources available for you to access from the comfort of your own home. Techniques can then be incorporated into your life on a daily basis, rather than just at your weekly class. At home it’s very easy to relax by sitting in front of the tv, which is fine to a certain extent, but a small amount of time allocated to relaxation per day will have long term health benefits, as the negative effects of excess stress will be counteracted.
Relaxation techniques help you refocus on to something calm, which helps the stresses and strains of daily life drift into the background. Your breathing becomes slower and regular and you become more aware of your own body in the here and now. There are various techniques to follow, this article aims to a explore a few.
The techniques used in mindfulness are very current at present, mindfulness is currently a “buzz” word in the field of relaxation. In basic terms mindfulness involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing in order to bring your minds focus to the “here and now”. Sometimes an object is used to focus on such as a flower, by focusing on the minute detail on the flower your mind is in the present. Mindfulness is said to be an excellent technique for sufferers of anxiety and depression. You could even practice mindfulness “on the go” by downloading apps to your smartphone.
Tai Chi is a low impact exercise, focusing on a series of slow, flowing body movements. It is possible to learn the principles of Tai Chi online, such as by following Dr Paul Lam’s Tai Chi Lessons. During Tai Chi movements your mind concentrates on the task, therefore reducing stress and anxiety. Attention is focused onto slowing down your breathing and as with meditation, grounding you to the present.
Guided imagery techniques are practiced by focusing on an image that you find soothing, the images can be imagined in your own mind or there are apps providing soothing scenes you could choose from. You then visit the location in your mind and focus on what your five senses are telling you, for example the sounds from water, smell of flowers, feel of the sand, taste of sea spray. Once you feel fully relaxed you slowly bring your mind back to the present. Guided imagery has been shown to ease the side effects of cancer treatment, relieve headaches and reduce anxiety.
Deep breathing is beneficial as it can be practiced in any situation or location. It can be done prior to stressful events such as giving a presentation or whilst in situations that cause stress depending on the individual. Deep breathing is a simple, but powerful technique. Taking a few deep breaths counteracts stress by reducing blood pressure and lowering your heart rate. Deep breathing is incorporated into the other relaxation techniques discussed here, tai Chi and meditation, but its benefits definitely deserve a paragraph of its own.