The body quickly responds to breathing evenly, slowly, and deeply. When you add such phrases as “letting go”, your body will let go of tension and become more relaxed anywhere, anytime.
Here are some ways to use the relaxation response at any time:
This is a quick visualization I have used many times when I have been on the run and I want to maximize those minutes when I am waiting in line, in the elevator, in the doctor’s office, etc.
Since I have already taught the mind to respond to both images and accompanying words, I can use this process to quickly reduce stress levels. Instead of thinking about how slow the line is moving or what I need to be doing, I simply use that time instead to relax.
If you can, close your eyes for a moment. If not, you can still visualize.
Focus on breathing calmly, evenly and deeply. Imagine yourself standing underneath a beautiful, warm, gently cascading waterfall. Actually feel the gentle stream of water wash over you and as it does, visualize your tension flowing away as well. Let go of your stress and allow yourself to relax in this quick moment of relaxation.
Nothing can create tension faster than to be late for an appointment and the traffic reduces your progress to a crawl. Your thoughts increase the tension in your body and you feel angry, anxious, frustrated, pressured, helpless, aggressive, etc.
Use your mind to bring you calm instead of adding more stress. You are stuck in traffic. You will not arrive at your destination any faster by feeling angry and getting more and more tense. So change your thoughts.
Instead of creating additional stress, go with the flow of events that you have no control over. Use this time to monitor your thoughts and attitudes. Reframe your situation.
Our thoughts can create stress or it can reduce stress. We choose.
I can’t make the traffic go any faster by thinking about why it should, must or has to. But you can tell yourself, since I have to go slow, I will just use this time to think about pleasant things. Recall some of the pleasant memories you have used in your relaxation/visualization exercises. Think about how much you love your family.
Traffic slow downs often make other drivers become aggressive and we react to their aggressiveness with our own. “You can’t cut me off like that” or “You jerk, you didn’t need to cut in front of me”. You have a choice to either allow yourself to react to what others are doing or to tell yourself it isn’t worth it to allow myself to get frustrated and angry over something so trivial.
We may get angry for a moment, but we choose whether to hang on to that anger or not.
Stay in the moment rather than fretting about the future or what you should or ought to be doing. You can either be reactive or proactive. It is your choice at all times.
©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC