Relaxation – what does it mean to you?
Since re-opening my therapy room I’ve had quite a few new clients suffering from severe stress and anxiety as a consequence of the last 15 months.
It is not surprising when our stress response has been triggered on a daily basis, through the media, the poster signs, the repetitive messages which all reinforce a sense of “danger.”
If allowed, we have been conditioned to be in a stressful state.
Some clients have laid on my couch with their shoulders hunched up almost to their ears without even realising it so I wanted to explore the word “Relaxation.” What does it mean to you? And are you getting enough?
In this blog I share with you a key strategy to successfully achieve a state of relaxation. Regular relaxation is, after all, fundamental to living a long and healthy life.
It is often taken for granted or not enough time is allocated to relax resulting in stress and poor health. My last blog – Relaxation Response 4 Powerful Triggers explains more about why it’s important to relax.
What does the word ‘relaxation’ mean?
noun “the state of being free from tension and anxiety”.¹
verb “the action of making a rule or restriction less strict”¹
A lack of relaxation can be physically observed, for example tension in the body resulting in muscular aches or pains.
A lack of relaxation in the mind can result in anxiety or negative emotions of anger, guilt, shame so it can be felt and yet be unseen.
Our bodies affect our minds and our minds affect our bodies.
So what can you do to successfully achieve a relaxed state?
Progressive muscle relaxation along with deep breathing is an excellent and very simple yet effective way to relax.
We often don’t know how tense we are so a good way of finding out is by purposely tensing that muscle and then relaxing it. This, in it’s simplest form, is progressive muscle relaxation.
Caution: Always check with a medical practitioner if you have a history of muscle spasms or serious medical condition that tensing muscles may aggravate.
Do not tense your muscles for too long just a few seconds at at time.
You can either begin at the top of your head and work down your body to your feet and then back up or start at your feet and work up your body and back down. Start with whichever end of your body you want to.
This example starts with your head and works down:
- Get comfortable with loose clothing, lying or sitting down
- Take some long, slow deep breaths
- Focus on your facial muscles, forehead, cheeks, lips, chin and jaw and see how they feel. After a few breaths squeeze all your face muscles up, clench your teeth and hold them tense for up to 10 seconds.
- Let go on an exhalation and observe how they feel as they relax.
- Focus on your neck and shoulders next, breathing freely and then tense your shoulders, raise them to your ears and hold for up to 10 seconds and then just let go.
- Observe how you feel as they relax, as they feel loose and limp like a rag doll
- Continue working down your body, one arm at a time, your chest, your stomach, your back, your gluteals, your thighs, your knees, your calf muscles and shins and your feet all just one limb at a time.
- And if you wish when you get to your feet start working back up your body.
- The key is to focus on one part of your body at at time and tense it and then let go. Observe the feeling of relaxation when it comes.
- Leave a comment or contact me to let me know how you get on.
Using scent to enhance your relaxation
Scent is a powerful way to help stimulate your relaxation response as highlighted in my last blog.
Frankincense oil is particularly good to help deepen the breathing and for meditative practises and combines well with Lemon oil which is wonderfully uplifting and good to help you focus, oh and it’s a wonderful immune boosting oil too.
So I really hope you have found this information helpful and if you would like a guided 1:1 relaxation session either in person or via Zoom please contact me.
I incorporate a little of this in all of my clients sessions to help them switch off from the outside world and start to unwind from the very beginning of the treatment.
I hope this helps you recognise when you are tense and when you are relaxed and remember, don’t try too hard, that will defeat the goal of relaxation. Do let me know how you get on and if you have any questions.
Best wishes & until next time, take care of YOU!
¹ Oxford Dictionary definition