Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Importance of Relaxation

File:Sunset may 2006 panorama.jpg
image from Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
Relaxation can :
  • Help speed up psychotherapy
  • Decrease depression and anxiety
  • Decrease agitation which is a sign of a mood swing that is going to occur.
  • Reduce stress hormones which in excess can cause various health problems including heart disease,depression,sleeping problems,headaches,stomach problems...
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Reduce anger
  • Help you find what your deepest personal value is
  • Help you deal with a crisis and with impulsivity in a healthy way.

Various Types of Relaxation & Stress-Reduction Techniques

File:Relaxation (52124016).jpgThe things that will work for you might not help another person, you just need to be willing to try out various relaxation exercises to see what helps you and when. Some exercises are not suitable for everybody. Try to practice relaxation exercises daily in a quiet place (such as a church/in nature...somewhere you won't be disturbed) for maximum results.

Beach Guided Imagery

You can record this or memorize it, a similar exercise can be found as a video here
You can decide to add music or wave sounds if you wish or a combination or no sound at all.
Here are some suggestions: Wave & Music Waves Music

1) Expect to be relaxed after this exercise Make yourself comfortable close your eyes yawn and take some deep breaths, starting to focus on the sounds it makes.

2) Count from1 to 10 as you breathe in and breathe out slowly saying "relax" (or a relaxing word of your choice such as calm/peace).Say the word out loud or in your mind, whichever you are most comfortable with.If you have difficulty concentrating trace the numbers on the palm of your hand.

3) Focus on the release of tension from the top of your body all the way down.Going through your forehead,eyebrows,eyelids,cheeks,mouth,jaw,neck ,shoulders,back,upper then lower arms,chest,abdomen(tummy),thighs,calves,ankles and feet.You can imagine it as a colored light if it helps.

4) Imagine yourself going down some stairs slowly to a warm and quiet beach.With each step you become increasingly relaxed.You are now walking over to a towel on the sand,you can smell the wonderful perfume of flowers,hear the gentle waves

5) Say out loud/in your mind "I can relax my mind and body,I am in control" or choose a similar phrase that you like.

6) Relax for a while and slowly count from 1 to 5,open your eyes and become aware of where you are.Slowly stretch out your arms and legs.

7) Keep practicing this exercise daily and when you feel stressed take a few deep breaths and in your mind say "relax" or the other relaxing word you have chosen.
relaxation,importance,health,mental,stress,depression,anxiety,bipolar,manic depression,borderline,mental illness,breathe
Breathing Awareness

Sit or lie down with the palm of your hand facing the ceiling,lose your eyes and place your hands on your belly.Try to breathe through your nose.Notice your breath causing your belly to rise and fall.Try to feel if your chest is rising and falling at the same time as your abdomen.Continue for a couple more minutes

Coherence-gratitude/compassion,the heart varies regularly
Anxiety/stress/depression-chaos,the heart varies irregularly
Cardiac Coherence for stress,anxiety & depression

This exercise is to make your heart enter coherence (healthy heart rate variability) see the blue part of the chart.

1) Take 2 deep slow breaths stay focused on your breath,pause after exhaling.
2)Focus around your heart area,imagine you are breathing through your heart,imagine that you are inhaling nourishing oxygen and exhaling waste(use colours such as blue & grey if that helps)

3)Become aware of the warmth/expansion in your chest and encourage it with your thoughts & breath.Think of loved ones(including pets),a peaceful scene,a memory of an achievement,joyful memories,understanding,when you felt grateful for something...Let these feelings of gratitude/love... fill your chest.
4)If you have started smiling or have a sensation of lightness,warmth/expansion in your chest coherence has happened.


Improves brain function and reduces stress.


You could do some simple short stretching exercises or yoga to reduce muscle tightness and help you relax.

Stress Reducers
  • Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table,make lunches,put out the clothes you plan to wear...
  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier or make time so you won't be in a hurry before appointments... Arrive extra early at the airport to avoid panicking.
  • Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat back the directions that someone expects of you, etc., can save hours.
  • Do one thing at a time. When you are working on one thing, don’t think about everything else you have to do.
  • Monitor your body for stress signs. If your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax your muscles and take some deep, slow breaths.
  • Don't overestimate how much you can do in a day,use reminders and an organizer to help you remember.
  • Make copies of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden.

Sources: The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living With Depression and Manic Depression
Mary Ellen Copeland;Matthew McKay
Healing without Freud or Prozac: Natural Approaches to Curing Stress, Anxiety, Depression without Drugs and without Psychotherapy,David Servan-Schreiber

52Proven Stress Reducers

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