THE IMPORTANCE OF RELAXATION

Recovery from pressure, stress, anxiety, emotions, thinking and activity

Relaxation is an important part of helping us maintain balance in our lives, and to help us deal with pressure, stress, anxieties, physical demands, and difficult periods we may be experiencing. Dealing with challenges with work, family, and friends, etc as well as negative thoughts, and painful feelings means that we can be subjected to long periods of stress.  It is of course normal for us to have to cope with stressful times within reason, and problems can arise when we are not addressing stress levels with enough self care, relaxation and recovery time.

Sometimes we may think we do not have enough time to fit in periods of relaxation, and this might be about the habits we have adopted, and how we are prioritising our day.  The body and mind can gain huge benefits from just an extra five minutes of relaxation morning, afternoon and/or night and so this does not necessarily mean needing large chunks of additional time.

What is relaxing?

Relaxing is not only resting our body, it is being able to rest our mind.  So what can we spend at least five minutes doing several times a day, that will help us switch off and give us a break from thinking. One function of our brain is for it to work for us, figuring out problems, analysing, and planning etc.  This thinking can also affect how we feel which in turn can trigger the fight and flight response, which can lead to tensions we feel in our body and so we can feel stressed.  This can all be fine if we also get enough rest and relaxation to recover from our demands.  Anything which stills and relaxes the mind will help relax the body, as well as physical relaxation techniques.

Strategies to increase relaxation and support an over active fight and flight response, include:

– Having supportive friends, and home environment where we feel safe and accepted.

– Creative play, eg enjoying interests, hobbies, sports, music, being creative, outdoors, fun etc..

– Attention to breathing: increasing awareness about breathing and how it supports us, using it as an anchor to the here and now

– Mindfulness: staying in the present and noticing/acknowledging thoughts without judgement or getting involved and hooked into them.  We acknowledge them and let them go, so that we take a break from thinking, and leave that to another time.

– Sensory focusing: using the senses helps us stay in the present, by paying attention to what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.  This might be a scenic walk, listening to music, foccussing on tasting a meal, being creative with our hands, or cleaning etc

– Visualisation, remembering a favourite place in detail in our imagination, what we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch and experiencing the associated good feeling.

– Meditation, hypnosis, focussing on a word like peace, or calm and repeating it

– Water, has many therapeutic qualities for relaxation, hot and cold showers, bathing in the sea, keeping hydrated with mineral water.

– Making time for making notes, lists and prioritising and planning tasks for the day, week, month and year so that this frees up the mind from thinking and remembering, and we have some organisation and goals in our lives.

– Yoga, massage, aromatherapy, gentle stretching, progressive muscle relaxation (tensing and relaxing muscles in turn throughout the body)

– Attention to diet, hydration, sleep and exercise can all help with addressing stress to the body, and aiding relaxation.

When attending counselling to address issues around stress, anxiety, anger, and other emotions, looking at relaxation is an important part of feeling better, and an important part of a healthy day to day routine.

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