A Few Thoughts About Relaxation Relaxation seems to be one of those things that everyone agrees is a good thing to do; unfortunately, we rarely take the time we need to relax. The ironic thing is that once people learn how to relax it often takes just a few seconds to decrease symptoms of stress. Taking the time to practice relaxation is the key to success.
Learning to relax begins with learning how to breathe properly. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth maximizes the flow of oxygen to your brain. Breathing deeply from the diaphragm (also called belly breathing) relaxes a person’s internal muscles and is a more effective method of breathing than by taking shallow, panting breaths. Visualizing a rising and sinking stone on your abdominal area as you breathe in and out is a helpful technique. For some people, placing one hand on their chest and the other on their abdomen is helpful. As you breathe in and out the hand over the chest should be relatively still while the other hand rises and falls as you breathe. Breathing from the diaphragm is a skill that improves with practice. However, some people simply can't do it. If you are such a person, don't get stressed out, pun intended! The most important thing is to practice breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Set a consistent time (bedtime is good; everyone finds time to sleep!) and practice for 5 to 10 minutes every day (or night). With enough practice the act of deep breathing will lead to successful achievement of the relaxation response.
The relaxation response promotes several beneficial states, including:
· lowered heart rate and blood pressure
· increased blood flow to major muscles of the body
· improved concentration and problem-solving skills
· fewer displays of anger and frustration
· reduced muscle tension
Learning to relax is an investment we make in ourselves to promote a more effective overall state of well-being. The positive payoffs from relaxation not only add to our life span, but also improve the overall quality of our lives. Isn’t it great to know that we possess the power to promote such positive changes in ourselves? All we have to do is make the commitment and practice for a few minutes a day.