“All relaxation does is allow the truth to be felt. The mind is cleared, like a dirty window wiped clean, and the magnitude of what we might ordinarily take for granted inspires tears.” ― Jay Michaelson
Relaxing, for many of us, is something that is easier said than done. It can be painfully difficult to free your mind from the strain of day-to-day life.
Whether you have relationship difficulties, health problems, or financial worries, if you are plagued with chronic stress, anxiety or depression, then relaxing and attaining mental respite may feel like an impossible task.
For as long as I can remember I have struggled with anxiety. It became so severe that at seven years old I had to permanently leave school to be educated at home. Since then, managing stress has been an on-going struggle. It seems to come in waves, and is often brought on by particularly stressful events.
During these times I have found that the best way to attain peace of mind is by practicing meditation and deep relaxation.
The Benefits of Deep Relaxation
Deep relaxation is something that I have found to be hugely helpful in reducing my stress and anxiety. However, deep relaxation can be beneficial in a number of other ways too: – Reduces blood pressure – Increases the flow of blood to the muscles – Decreases tension – Helpful for pain management – Improves sleep – Unlocks creativity – Increases energy levels – Enables waking induced lucid dreams – Strengthens the immune system – May benefit certain health conditions, for example reducing the need for insulin in diabetics. Read this article on breathing techniques for greater detail on health benefits.
“Breath is the power behind all things… I breathe in and know that good things will happen.” Tao Porchon-Lynch
How to Relax in Six Easy Steps
Step 1 – First, choose a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Ideally you should select an area that is quiet and free from distractions. Consider unplugging the telephone, or even wearing a pair of earplugs in order to block out distracting noises. If you find music relaxing, such as classical music or nature sounds then put that on too.
When you fall into a relaxed state, you may end up drifting off to sleep, so choose somewhere safe to relax – a bubble bath, for example, may not be a wise idea!
Step 2 – Once you feel comfortable, simply take a few slow deep breaths in through the nose and then slowly out through the mouth. Concentrate on your breathing by counting down from ten with each breath in and out. Feel your entire body sink and relax as you breath out.
Step 3 – Think to yourself, or say aloud, – “As I count down from ten my entire body is becoming more and more relaxed.”
Then breathe in for 4 seconds, hold briefly and then exhale for 7 seconds. Continue to do this for a minute or so.
Step 4 – Next, say to yourself, “As I count down from ten I will feel every part of my body becoming heavier and heavier, so heavy that I can’t even move.” Then continue breathing as detailed in step three.
Step 5 – And finally, saying mentally… “As I count down from ten I can feel my whole body growing more comfortable and warm.” Continue with the breathing technique until your whole body is warm and comfortable.
Step 6 – You should now feel very relaxed and calm and you may even have fallen asleep. If you are awake and wish to come out of the relaxed state you can mentally say, “As I count up to five I will be awake and alert again”.
Practice Makes Perfect
You may initially find it very difficult to switch off your mind from worries and concerns. When I first began using deep relaxation as a technique to reduce stress, I certainly found it hard to stop my mind from wandering.
Trying to force your mind not to wander can often have the opposite effect, so instead just calmly try to concentrate on your breathing and counting. If your mind does wander try not to get frustrated, and bring your attention back to your breathing. The more you practice relaxation the easier it will become.
“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye
Let Me Know Your Experiences! Have you ever tried relaxation techniques to help reduce stress? Do you have any particular techniques that work for you? Please let me know in the comments below…
About the Author
Emma Nutter is a freelance spirituality writer, specializing in self-development and mental health. Her recent contributions include personal writings on http://www.astralzen.com.