by Jill N. Henry, Ed.D., APP
How do you feel when someone tells you to RELAX? Like most of us, you were probably told as a child to not be lazy, not goof off, and to “get busy”. It is no wonder that our society has high rates of heart disease, cancer, and mental illness – all of which can be related to the effects of high stress and low relaxation.
Stress, even minor, can wipe out from 10% to 50% of the natural immune cells (T Cells) that patrol your body. Relaxation can repair the body and the mind. By learning to relax you can accomplish more, live longer, and be just plain happier. The following are ways to bring more relaxation into your life, helping you to be healthier and more productive. By developing abilities to relax into the present moment, you can easily do what needs to be done. If you are ready to change your mind about relaxation, try any of the following techniques for 10 days – and see the results for yourself! Good Luck and Good Life!
Stress Reduction Techniques
- THE FOUR-COUNT Count silently to 4 while you inhale, hold for four counts. Count silently to 4 while you exhale, hold for four counts. Repeat for 1 – 5 minutes
- THE TEN-COUNT Count to 10! But do it so you are totally aware of each breath you count. If you “forget” to feel a breath, start over and try again
- BODYBREATH Inhale through your fingertips, up arms and into shoulders and head. Exhale down your neck, abdomen, legs and out your toes.
- PEACEBREATH Inhale while visualizing peace in-filling your body (head to toes)…. Pause, and then exhale while visualizing tension leaving body (toes to head)
- GROANING TO RELAX For 5 minutes, give yourself and those around you permission to loudly groan away the stresses that have been building during the day.
- LAUGHING TO RELAX Take a laughter break – for 5 minutes, just laugh!
- PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION tighten, then relax, each major muscle group in your body. Begin at the feet and work up towards the head. (toes, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, buttocks, stomach, back, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, head, face)
- AUTOGENIC TRAINING Mentally breath into each body part listed above, feeling warmth and relaxation begin to flow in each area.
- PETTING ANIMALS Find a dog or cat or ??? and simply sit down and pet them!
- SELF-IMAGERY In your mind, recreate a relaxing place you have experienced in the past. Return to that place and “live” there for a few seconds or minutes.
- GUIDED IMAGERY Tapes usually take the listener to a special place, a waterfall, mountain, meadow, ocean… and guide the listener through a series of releasing and healing images.
- MUSIC The most relaxing music contains sounds with a natural rhythm and no melody. The sound is cyclical and repeated.
- CONCENTRATION TECHNIQUES Repeating any word that ends in “m” or “n” has been reported to decrease heat and pulse rates and increase relaxation
- MINDFULNESS Place complete attention on the feel of your breath coming and going from your nostrils. Each time you are aware of thinking rather than feeling, return to the feeling of the breath. Let all thoughts be as they are, without reacting to them. Stay in the Now of the breath
- AFFIRMATIONS AND PRAYER Repetition of positive, affirmative phrases and spiritually inspiring verses induce profound relaxation effects
About the author: Dr. Henry is the author of the international, award-winning book, Energy SourceBook – The Fundamentals of Personal Energy (Llewellyn, 2004), and the updated version Resources for Well-Being