We can learn to quickly relax our bodies and reduce tension or high levels of stress by practicing a simple relaxation exercise once a day.
Learning how to systematically reduce the tension throughout your body can quickly lower your stress levels. Taking the time to learn how to do this can have enormous health benefits.
You might think that adding one more “must do” item to your “To Do” list will only add more stress to your life, but the long term benefits are worth the small amount of time it takes to put this habit in place.
Once a Day is All it Takes
Once a day find a quiet time and space away from family or work. During that time, close your eyes, tense the different muscle groups, breathe and then release the tension as you expell your air. As you systematically relax all the different parts of your body, tell yourself you are letting go of all the stress that is stored there. Pairing relaxing phrases with the breathing and relaxing teaches your brain to associate it with calming breathing, relaxing, and letting go of tension.
It is difficult to learn how to relax on our own, as we often try to “make” ourselves relax instead of “allowing” the body to relax. It is really helpful to use a relaxation CD that helps put the process in place.
An emmy-award winning composer friend and I collaborated to produce the Relaxation CD available on my website. The music is composed specifically to match the simple script that teaches you how to become aware of where you hold the tension in your body and how to quickly let go of that tension.
The script is based on relaxation techniques taught by a physician years ago working with bio-feedback. In the CD, you tense different muscle groups, breathe into that tension, and then slowly release both the air and tension. You learn to allow intruding thoughts to simply pass as you re-focus on relaxing.
The CD is both relaxing and instructive. We hold tension in different parts of our body. In the process of going through this exercise, you will discover where you hold your stress and tension and how to let go of it quickly.
When you add to the sequencing of tensing, breathing and release, words such as “letting go, relaxing deeper and deeper” you are increasing your ability at a later time to quickly release the tension in your targeted area.
Our brain responds to words. Without realizing it, we are constantly streaming some kind of stress loaded statements in our mind all day. Purposefully choosing different words that associate slow, deep breathing with instructions to let go of tension, helps return the body to a restful state.
It takes about 30 days to put a new habit in place. If you listened and followed the CD every day, you will put in place stress release responses that you can use anytime anywhere.
In Thursday’s blog, I will give you the basic information needed to put in place your own relaxation exercise.
Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC