When stress overwhelms your nervous system, your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for "fight or flight." This stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly. But when it’s constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life, it can wear your body down and take a toll on your emotional health
For many of us, relaxation may mean vegging out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. But we probably know that this does little to help us feel better! No one can avoid all stress, but you can counteract its detrimental effects by learning a simple relaxation technique which puts the brakes on stress and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium. Further, the exercises below can be fitted in in 10 minutes and almost anywhere. Try and do twice a day if you can, especially during tense times
What the relaxation technique delivers:
In addition to its calming physical effects, the relaxation response also increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity. Best of all, anyone can reap these benefits with regular practice
text of podcast is below
Quick relaxation: deep breathing This can be done quickly when you feel the pressure is rising. You also need to do this before you go into the longer progressive muscle relaxation technique
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying down. Put a small book on your stomach, and breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
watch this space for a podcast of me taking you through the exercises
Below is a classic relaxation exercise that has been used extensively as it works so well
All you really need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out. It is best not done just before going to sleep as if you are tired at the end of the day, you will just fall asleep still feeling tense!
Progressive muscle relaxation is a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. With regular practice, it gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This can help you to you react to the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind.
Consult with your doctor first if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles. You can do it lying down or sat in a chair.
Start at your feet and work your way up to your face, trying to only tense those muscles intended.
If you have time, a deeper, more thorough technique involves clenching each muscle/muscle group as strong as you can, then let go and do the same but clench less strongly, then finally clench only just using your mind, feel the difference between tense and relaxed!