We live in such a fast paced world and we get so wound up that we are unaware of our tenseness.
Learning to relax through relaxation exercises can help get us centered back to emotional health and healing. Being busy can may lead to stress and it can act as a deterrent to getting in touch with what is going on inside of us. If we stay busy we do not have to stop and listen to what is going on in our bodies and head. If we do not know what is going on inside of us, we think we are not responsible for our inner turmoil. We just continue on that road of insanity, which is continuing to do the same thing day after day expecting a different result.
Relaxation exercises slow us down, but it takes work and consistency to get good at it. It is like working out. At first it is fun and we are excited about our goals, but as we progress it becomes harder and harder to remain disciplined to keep it up. That is the way all new things are when we make a commitment to do something different. Relaxation exercises can help us sleep better, manage stress, reduce anxiety, process through our anger issues, get over our fears, and enjoy life more by learning to live in the present.
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Here is a helpful list of my favorite relaxation exercises. The goal here is to practice. Go ahead, give them a try.
- If it is possible play some soft music that has no words.
- Lay down or get comfortable in a chair. Keep your legs uncrossed unless you are in a meditation position.
- Close your eyes and elevate them slightly.
- Begin by focusing on your muscles in your body
- Then focus on your toes by tensing them up and holding the tension for a few seconds and then slowly relax them.
- Relax them beyond what you would consider relaxing normally and concentrate on just letting go
- Then curl your toes down, tense them a few seconds and then relax and let go
- Continue this process by tensing each set of muscles and then relaxing them, starting with your calves and moving to your upper thighs, buttocks, abdominal, upper and lower arms and making fists with your hands, neck, jaw, tongue and cheeks, and last eyebrows by raising them up as high as you can.
- Then concentrate on any areas of your body that still may be tense and relax
- Next, focus in on your breathing and be aware of your chest as it rises and as it falls. Breath in more air than you normally would and exhale more air than normal.
- As you exhale, say the word to yourself, “Relax”
- Imagine a peaceful place. It could be on the beach, meadow, forest or perhaps a mountain top
- Just stay in that place and continue to concentrate on your breathing and saying “Relax” and enjoy this place
- If thoughts come into your mind, just imagine them floating by and then just peacefully bring your thoughts back to that peaceful place and relax
- When you are ready, bring yourself back into the room and slowly open your eyes
The more you practice the better you will get at relaxing. You will be training your brain to know what relaxing feels like and it will get easier as you notice a difference in how you are feeling. I suggest doing it in the morning before you let you feet hit the ground for the day, at lunch time and when you go to bed. Do it more if you can. Practice, practice, practice until it becomes part of who you are.
Vickie Parker, LMFT
vickiemft.com, Online Counseling