Aug 31, 2018 — Relaxation is a way to make your whole body feel relaxed like your hands are now. One way to relax your body is by breathing deeply. Imagine
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 1 What is R elaxation? During a relaxation exercise (such as progressive muscle relaxation , visualization , meditation, or another relaxation technique ) muscle tension decreases, blood pressure goes down, the mind becomes calm, and the harmful effects of prolonged stress are counteracted. The “relaxation response” is the opposite of the stress response. The stress response is also known as the fight – or – flight response. According to Herbert B enson, in his book “The Relaxation Response,” we evoke the fight – or – flight response all the time, but “modern society does not socially accept the fighting or running naturally associated with it.” This means that we are not appropriately using the fight – o r – flight response for survival. We can’t use the response as intended – imagine what would happen if you encountered a stressful situation, such as an argument at work, and responded by physically fighting or running away? That does not work very well. The sympathetic nervous system is activated when we are in fight – or – flight mode. Over time this can have all kinds of negative effects (which are the symptoms of stress ). Benson says, “th ere is another response that leads to a quieting of the same nervous system.” This other response is the Relaxation Response . The relaxation response is associated with physiological changes that are the opposite to the changes seen with the fight – or – flight response. The relaxation response can be evoked using relaxation techniques , such as autogenics, progres sive muscle relaxation, and meditation. Regularly inducing the relaxation response is most effective in improving day to day living, and results in increased control over the body’s responses to stress. According to Benson, meditation results in changes i n oxygen consumption, brain waves , lactate levels, etc – all indicating lowered activity of the sympathetic nervous system. The heart rate decreases by an average of 3 beats per minute and the respiration rate decreases. A restful state is achieved. During meditation or other relaxation techniques , the subject may not actually feel much different or notice any changes. The physiological changes are occurring,
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 2 nonetheless. This means that whether or not you notice any changes at the time, by doing relaxation techniques you get all of the physical and psychological benefits of the relaxation response and are protected against the harmful effects of stress. What is Relaxation Therapy? When the average person is awake, many thoughts are going through his or her mind. The waking mind is very active. During sleep, the mind can remain active, though the rhythm is slower than that of the mind when awake. Have you ever slept for a full night, but awoke still feeling tired? When the mind is active, sleep is not always restful. The aim of relaxation therapy is to quiet the mind; to allow thoughts to flow in a smooth, level rhythm, and induce the relaxation response. This mental quiet allows for rest and rejuvenation that does not always occur, even during sleep. Relaxa tion therapy does not attempt to empty the mind, since it is not possible to think of nothing. In relaxation, we focus the mind, and relax both mind and body. Tips to Optimize Your Success with Relaxation: 1. Adopt a passive attitude . Approach relaxation w ith a “let it be” perspective. Don’t try to make anything happen. 2. Relax in a quiet environment with few distractions. As you become more familiar with relaxation and practiced in various techniques, you will learn to relax anywhere. To begin, however, c hoose an environment that is free of distractions. 3. Make sure you are in a setting that does not require your outside attention ( keep yourself safe ). 4. Make yourself comfortable . Position yourself on chair with neck and back support, a firm bed, or a co mfortable mat on the floor . Make sure the room is warm, not too hot or too cool. Choose a comfortable position that you can maintain for at least 10 minutes. 5. Start with short relaxation sessions , about 5 minutes. With more experience, achieving relaxati on will become easier and you will be able to relax for longer periods of time. With practice , 20 or 30 minutes is quite reasonable, and you may wish to relax for even longer sessions. 6. Relaxation is a skill that must be learned. Practice often – every d ay is best! 7. Set aside time to relax each day . Some people prefer to relax right before bed to help fall asleep. Others relax first thing in the morning to start the day refreshed and revitalized. Consider if there are times in the day when your stress l evel is high,
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 3 or your energy is low. These can be ideal times to schedule in a brief relaxation session. 8. Keep experimenting! No one method of relaxation will work for everyone. It is important to try out different strategies to see which ones meet your n eeds. There is no right or wrong way to relax. Try our quiz to find out which techniques may work for you.
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 4 S ome Relaxation Scripts General Get ready to relax. You can sit in a chair or lie down on a bed. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. now breathe out. Breathe in. and breathe out. Keep breathing slowly like this. Feel how it relaxes you to breathe deeply. Now squeeze your hands closed into fists. Pretend that you are squeezing a ball in each hand gripping tighter . squeeze even tighter. Right now, your muscles are tense. And now relax. Let your hands go limp. Now your hands feel relaxed. See how relaxed your hands feel. See how tense feels different from relaxed. Relaxation is a way to make your whole body fe el relaxed like your hands are now. One way to relax your body is by breathing deeply. Imagine that your body is like a balloon. When you breathe in, feel your chest and sides expanding, like a balloon filling with air. When you breathe out, imagine your b ody is like a balloon shrinking with the air being let out. Breathe in like a balloon being blown up. Now breathe out, like the air is being let out of a balloon. Let the air out by blowing the air through your mouth. Breathe in through your nose, imagini ng your body expanding like a balloon. and now imagine letting the end of the balloon go, and the air rushing out as you breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe in this time, raise your arms above your head. When you breathe out, lower your arms. Breathe in. Reach your hands above your head, stretching high up stretching. and now lower your arms to your sides and relax. Breathe out. Raise your arms and breathe in. lower your arms and breathe out. Raise your arms and breathe in. lowe r your arms and breathe out. Now relax and keep your arms at your sides, while you continue breathing slowly and deeply.
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 5 Remember the difference between tense and relaxed. Tighten your leg muscles to make both of your legs tense. Squeeze tighter. tig hter and now relax. Let your legs become very relaxed. Each leg is as floppy as a piece of string. Your legs feel heavy. The muscles are loose. Now tense your arms. Make the muscles very tight and tense. Tighter. and now relax. Your arms are relaxe d, limp and loose as pieces of string. See how it feels to be relaxed. Your legs and arms are relaxed. Now let your whole body become relaxed. See how relaxed you can make your body. loosening every muscle. no tension at all . Your body feels hea vy and relaxed. Relax even more by noticing your breathing again. See how calm your breathing is. In. and out . in. and out Keep breathing and simply relax. There is nothing you need to do right now except relax quietly. (pause) See how calm a nd relaxed you feel. It feels good to relax. Your relaxation time is finished now, and it is time to return to your usual activities. Keep your eyes closed for a little longer while you wake up your body and your mind by wiggling your fingers and toes . moving your arms and legs . Sit still now for a moment and open your eyes to look around the room. When you are ready, get up and return to your usual activities, feeling awake, but still feeling relaxed and calm.
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 7 Imagine that you are like a cat purring. Breathe in and as you breathe out, purr. Breathe in. purr. Breathe in purr. Now as you breathe, you can sigh, and relax. Breathe in. and sigh as you breathe out. Breathe in. sigh. Breathe in. sigh. Just relax now for a moment, feeling your body re lax. Your arms and legs are very loose and relaxed. Continue the breathing relaxation for children. Now you can imagine that your body is like a balloon filling up as you breathe in and emptying as you breathe out. Let your ribs expand out to the sides, l ike a balloon, expanding and then let the air out, like a balloon that is emptying. The balloon expands. and then the air goes out. You can even imagine that you are blowing up a balloon. Imagine that you breathe air into your lungs , and then when yo u breathe out through your mouth, imagine that you are blowing up a balloon. Each breath you blow out makes the balloon get even bigger. Imagine filing the balloon as it gets bigger and bigger with each breath out. Breathe in and then blow up the balloo n even more. Bigger bigger. bigger. Imagine letting go of the balloon, so it flies around the room as the air escapes. Feel your body relaxing just like a limp, empty balloon. Continue the breathing relaxation for children. And now, see how slowly yo u can breathe out. First breathe in. and now breathe out very slowly out out. out. When you can’t breathe out any more air, breathe in again, and then very slowly breathe out. For the next few moments, just relax, resting. It feels good to rel ax. Enjoy this calm feeling. (pause) Now you are finished this breathing relaxation for children. Stretch your muscles if you want to, and let your body wake up. When you are totally awake, you can get back to the rest of your day.
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 8 Creative Relaxati on Begin by placing a blank sheet of paper and a box of colo u red pencils on a clean tabletop. Play music that you find relaxing, calming, or energi s ing. The type of music you select is up to you. Sit down at the table . Place your hands, palms down, on the tabletop . Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. and now exhale slowly, releasing the tension in your body. Picture the tension in your body and the stressful thoughts in your mind. If this stress were a colour , what colour might it be? Open your eyes, and select the colour , or colour s, of your stress from the box of coloured pencils. Allow the creative expression relaxation to begin as you place the tip of the pencil anywhere on the paper and begin to move your hand and arm. Scribble out the tension . Scribble away the stress. It doesn’t matter what the scribble looks like. Allow the lines and shapes you are drawing to represent your stress and tension. Feel the movement of your arm releasing the stress and tension onto the paper. Feel the tension in your body moving down your upper arm, lower arm, wrist, and hand through your fingers, and into the pencil. The stress and tension in your day are held inside the pencil, and as the pencil contacts the paper, the tension, stress, and worries are left b ehind on the page. Keep moving the pencil across the page. You may choose to change colours or use more than one pencil at the same time. You may want to draw with both hands. Keep moving. Keep filling the paper with marks, shapes and lines. Feel the ten sion draining from your body and out onto the paper. Continue this exercise until you feel like some of the tension has left your body, or until what you see on the paper to represent your stress is complete. When you are finished drawing your stress, tur n over the paper. Now imagine that on the top of your head is a string, holding you gently upright. Imagine the string tightening, lengthening your spine until your back is straight. Feel your shoulders lowering slightly as the muscles in your neck and ba ck become smooth and relaxed. Keep your posture upright and straight, but not rigid. Maintain the natural curves in your spine. Breathe in again, drawing in a deep, relaxing breath. Breathe out tension.
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 9 Breathe in relaxation. And breathe out tensi on. Allow each part of your body to relax. Picture the feeling of relaxation rising from your feet, all the way to your head. Allow your feet to relax. Feel your legs becoming warm and heavy. Relax your hips, stomach, back, and chest. Relax your arms an d shoulders. Relax your neck. Relax your face and head. Breathe in relaxation. breathe out tension . Breathe in, I am calm. Exhale, I am relaxed. I am calm. I am relaxed. Picture this feeling of calm and relaxation in your mind. If this tranquillity were a colour , what colour might it be? Select the colour or colour s that represent this serenity. Allow the pencil you have chosen to contact the paper. Feel the creative expression of relaxation flowing throughout your body. Begin to move the pe ncil in a gentle, calm rhythm. Use the movement of drawing, and the feel of drawing to express the relaxation. As the relaxation flows across the page, notice that your mind is becoming tranquil and relaxed. Focus on the movement of your body. Notice the tip of the pencil moving along the paper smoothly. See the calm markings left on the page. Feel the creative expression relaxation flowing through your body and your mind. Allow yourself to be totally focused on and absorbed in the creative process. Creat e a picture of the expression of relaxation. Feel the relaxation as you see the relaxation developing on the page. Feel tension flowing out through the pencil, and relaxation flowing in with each movement of the pencil on paper. As your drawing grows, the feeling of relaxation increases. Enjoy your creativity. Enjoy your creative expression relaxation. Allow your creative expression and relaxation to flow.
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Compiled by, Dr Dawn Bradley: Summit Psychology Services : www.summitpsychologyservices.co.uk 10 Draw or scribble freely. Allow your body to move calmly, unrestricted, as you experience the relaxati on of creativity. Free yourself from expectations about the work you are creating. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Appreciate the process. Experience creativity. Allow your creative expression relaxation and revitalization. Breathe in relaxation B reathe out tension Breathe in relaxation Draw away tension Draw in relaxation Draw out relaxation Draw in relaxation Draw relaxation Draw relaxation Continue to draw for as long as you wish. Enjoy the feeling of creative expression and relaxation.
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