Often in this hectic world we do not have time for the sleep we need or the time to relax or at least we do not think we do. There are several ways we can use to relax throughout the day. It is important to relax because it lowers our blood pressure and we have less muscle tension.
However from my experience relaxation does a lot more for me than relax me. It regenerates my brain. When I’m writing at an intense level I sometimes have a “pause in thinking.” That means my brain is overwhelmed; it’s time to relax. It is amazing. After I relax for perhaps 20-30 minutes I am refreshed. It truly is at times as good as a nap.
Relaxing will not only help you during the day but in the long run you will not be ill as often, you will have more energy, improved concentration and you will be more relaxed in the long haul as well.
I think of it the same way I think of blood sugar when one is diabetic. There is the glucose level on a certain day and “long-term sugars.” The long-term sugars represent the way you’re functioning over a longer period. That is the way relaxation periods work. They help today and over the long haul.
What are the types of relaxation skills available? There are several including Tai Chi, self hypnosis, meditation and autogenic relaxation. However I am not familiar with those. What I am familiar with are three other types which are progressive muscle relaxation, imagery and diaphragmatic breathing.
In progressive muscle relaxation what you do is to tense a muscle or a group of muscles and then relax it. What I have done is to start with my feet and work up my body to my head by tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. What it does is relax me at the time and help me with rest both short and long term.
Diaphragmatic breathing is breathing from the diaphragm or deep chest as opposed to shallow breaths that are of little value and in fact can do just the reverse of relaxing; they can keep you anxious. Diaphragmatic breathing consists of long, slow and deep breaths. This takes a lot of practice.
One other type of relaxation technique is imagery which consists of visualizing something that makes you relax such as a beach, or a mountain or any type of thing that puts you at ease. It is good to close your eyes and lay or sit very still.
No matter what you choose to do I am confident you will find that it helps. The more you practice the more it will help.
“Introduction to Relaxation Skills,” Brochure, Mayo Clinic, 2008