Today’s world is go-go-go. We’re constantly plugged in, turned on, connected, online, mobile, and active. An while a certain amount of busyness can be productive and healthy, too much movement and activity can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. When the end of the day comes, you might fall into bed and crash out or you might suffer from insomnia. You might wake up feeling groggy or energetic, depending on what you ate the day before, how much you exercised, or how stressed-out you are. You might turn to caffeine, pharmaceuticals, sugar, or the Internet to get the energy you need to keep going throughout your day.
Conscious relaxation techniques can help to offset the unhealthy effects of too much stress, activity, and false “energy.” Deep breathing can help to reverse the shallow, rapid respiration instigated by stress. Taking time throughout your day for a few long, deep, consciously practiced breaths can be rejuvenating and energizing.
But for the most benefit, practice deep relaxation in addition to deep breathing! Even five minutes of conscious, progressive, deep relaxation can positively change your blood chemistry and reduce or eliminate the wearying effects of stress and activity.
Learning progressive relaxation takes some practice, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can achieve the relaxation response within just a few breaths. Use a timer, so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep 🙂
Try to practice at least 5 minutes of progressive relaxation every day. You will notice a deep and lasting change that will effect the rest of your life in a positive, enhancing way!
Stuff to Know:
- This post is not intended as medical advice. If you are suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, severe sleep disruption, or any other mental state that is causing concern to you or your loved ones, please seek the help of a professional.
- Progressive relaxation should be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, standard medical and therapeutic procedures.
How to practice progressive relaxation:
- Set a timer for the duration of your practice: 5 to 30 minutes.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin to breathe deeply. Don’t force your breath, just let it deepen.
- Beginning with your feet, tense your muscles for three seconds and then relax.
- Then, tense and relax your lower legs.
- Work your way up your body, through your thighs, buttocks, torso/abdomen, chest, arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, cheeks, eyes, and forehead.
- After you have tensed and relaxed your forehead, rest while breathing naturally.
- Count down from 10 to 1 while imagining yourself descending on an elevator.
- Relax and know your timer will alert you when it’s time to return to everyday life.
- When your timer goes off, keep your eyes closed. Tell yourself, “When I count from 1 to 5, I will open my eyes and feel refreshed and energetic.”
- Slowly count from 1 to 5 while blinking open your eyes. Yawn, stretch, and go about your day.
Questions for readers:
Do you practice progressive relaxation?