The Relaxation Reaction
The 1975 book, The Relaxation Response written by Doctor Herbert Benson, offers a technique for using stress and worry as triggers to promote mental health. You read it correctly: you can utilise stress to make yourself feel better and think more clearly.
Doctor Benson founded the Mind and Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The Harvard Medical School graduate and author of 12 books has sold over 5 million copies, with a focus on leveraging the power of the mind to create predictable and guaranteed results.
The Relaxation Response is a meditation technique that employs your mind to elicit a physical response. By utilising this approach, your metabolism slows, as does your heart rate and breathing rate, and your mental activity decreases to a stress-free level. Here's what you're supposed to do.
For 2 to 4 weeks, set aside 10 to 20 minutes per day. You will utilise this time to train your mind to respond to stress and anxiety in a healthy way. Close your eyes and sit comfortably in a calm area. Feel your muscles relax as you move up your body, starting at your feet and working your way up. Breathe through your nose and become acutely aware of each breath you take. When you exhale, utter the word “one.”
You can also use another relaxing term, such as “peace” or “rest.” Breathe in this manner for 10 to 20 minutes. Set no alarm clocks, as the loud noise will disrupt any relaxation you have achieved. It is fine if you open your eyes every few minutes to check the time and your progress.
When you're finished, sit quietly for a few minutes. Open your eyes slowly. After a few minutes, get up and don't worry about whether or not you've established a sense of calm. With time and practise, this simple approach can automatically give you the stress-free, anxiety-free mental state you seek.
Then, if you see tension creeping in, you quickly counter with this calming, time-tested mental health booster. The Relaxation Response book is available on Amazon and other online retailers as a digital download and paperback.
(However, don't try this within 2 hours of eating, since your digestive process may interfere with your success.)
Yoga for Body Relaxation
There are numerous books and DVDs available online that demonstrate how to use yoga for stress management. Dr Terri Kennedy, a qualified yoga teacher, reminds us: “Yoga allows us to take a breather and calm down for a bit. Simply focusing on one thing – the concept of meditation – allows us to decompress.”
She also mentions how various asanas (yoga poses) relieve tension in different ways. The easy Child's Pose (Balasana), for example, instantly puts you into a meditative state, allowing your body to feel calm and relaxed. The yoga asanas listed below are also excellent for soothing your mind, alleviating stress, and relaxing your body.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) — If you've done yoga for a while, you'll recognise this as a transitional posture. When practised as its own pose, it can be used as a physical stress reliever. Reversing your blood flow benefits your hips, hamstrings, and thighs, which immediately begins to relax your legs.
Corpse Pose (Savasana) — Even if you've never done yoga before, you can probably envision what this pose looks like based on the name. Some yoga classes will end with a few minutes of this relaxing position. Because your entire body is calm and tranquil, your body completely relaxes and, in many circumstances, you can even fall asleep.
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) – This yoga pose is great for relaxing your back and spine. This is another transitional posture that should be practised alone to calm and lengthen your lower back.
Tai Chi If you type “tai chi for stress relief” into a search engine, you'll get hundreds of thousands of hits. This is due to a large body of medical research demonstrating that practising tai chi is a simple and effective approach to achieve a state of physical relaxation.
Because it involves non-impact exercises, this is a particularly popular physical health technique among individuals recovering from injuries and senior persons. Your knees, back, elbows, and shoulders do not experience the aches and pains associated with regular exercise.
Tai chi's slow-moving forms stretch your ligaments, tendons, and muscles. This is a slow stretching procedure that will gradually increase your physical capacities in a non-stressful manner. This “healthy stretching” relieves tension throughout your body. Tai chi is also a great way to relieve mental stress while also relaxing your entire body from head to toe.
The second part of this article was brought to you by: Bristol Acupuncture Clinic