Guest Post: Relaxation Techniques by Patricia Duggan
Posted Oct 23 2011 8:52pm
Do you need to relax? Many of us have a hard time relaxing due to our hectic lives. Work schedules, children’s activities, and social gatherings can leave us with little time to relax, especially if we aren’t getting enough sleep or have particularly stressful jobs or relationships.
However, you can discover relief and relaxation by taking just a little time for yourself. These relaxation techniques will help you take a deep breath and be calm in the present moment. All of the techniques can be self-led by the power of your mind and imagination, but some of you may find it easier to be led through a certain technique with a therapist or an audio recording.
Deep Breathing – This technique is easy to learn and can be practiced just about anywhere. When you take deep breaths, you inhale more oxygen, which helps get rid of tension and anxiety. Sit in a comfortable place and keep your back straight. To ensure that you’re breathing correctly, put one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. When you take a deep breath, the hand on your stomach should rise much more than the one on your chest. Be sure to breathe through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth, perhaps counting to yourself. If you need to relax further, try lying down and/or listening to music while you do this.
Muscle Relaxation – This technique involves quenching and releasing the muscles in different parts of your body, working from the feet to the face. It will help you become more aware of spots of tension and stress in your muscles. Sit or lie in a comfortable place, take off your shoes, and wear comfy clothing. Take a few minutes to relax with deep breathing. Then focus on your right foot: squeeze the muscles as tightly as you can for 10 seconds, then relax and feel the tension melt away. Do the same for the left foot, then lower and upper legs, buttocks, stomach, chest, back, arms and hands, neck and shoulders, and the face. When you finish, your body will be completely relaxed.
Body Scan Meditation –Similar to muscle relaxation, a body scan focuses on the different parts of the body, but does not involve tensing and releasing muscles. Instead, simply focus on the sensations in each part, starting with the toes and moving upwards to the head. You should focus on each area for a minute or two while practicing deep breathing. When you finish, reflect on how your whole body feels and relax in stillness.
Focused Meditation – Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, one way to relax is to learn to be calm in the present moment. This can be practiced during an activity such as walking, gardening, exercising, eating, or simply meditating. Find a quiet, secluded place where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor, but try not to lie down because you might fall asleep. Focus on an internal point, such as an imaginary scene or a feeling, or an external point, like a candle or a word that you repeat to yourself. You could focus your eyes on an object in your view or simply close your eyes. Don’t worry about random thoughts or whether you’re meditating correctly – just return to your point of focus and concentrate on that.
Visualization Meditation – Sit or lie down in a comfortable place and imagine a relaxing scene, such as a tropical beach, a quiet forest, or your favorite place you used to play as a child. You may want to listen to soft music or sound effects, like waves on a beach, to help you visualize the scene. Try to imagine it as vividly as possible, using all of your senses. Visualize yourself interacting with the scene – smelling the salty breeze, walking through the waves, feeling the sun on your face, hearing birds fly overhead. Enjoy the deep relaxation that comes over you.
(Patricia Duggan has a Masters Degree in Psychology and has been in the field for 10 years. She maintains the site Psychology Degree Programs . She writes about many subjects within the psychology field.)