Relaxing is essential to your well-being. This doesn’t necessarily mean taking a big break from your busy life. To relax can be as easy as sitting quietly in the sun for a few minutes.
It is not only high-stress situations such as getting divorced, moving house or changing jogs which takes its roll. In his book, Learn to relax, author Mike George points out that “we may become so used to free-floating anxiety, the background buzz of worry, that we do not even acknowledge it any longer”. He offers a variety of simple techniques to help you de-stress and relax.
One such exercise is stress ballooning. The purpose is to change your habitual stress response to a new response. He suggests that you make a list of the issues in your life you currently find stressful. Taking one issue at a time, think about how you usually respond to the stress of that situation and imagine blowing the stress response into a balloon. Then take a pin and pop the balloon. As it explodes, your old response disappears.
Blow up a second balloon, and imagine it filling with positive energy, breath by breath. Then write a new response to the same situation on the surface of this balloon, and gently tapping it into the air, keep it afloat for a while, absorbing your new response to this stress factor. When you are faced with the same situation again, simply remember the balloon and your new response. You can repeat this process for all the other stressful situations in your life.
Another easy and effective relaxation technique is observing your breathing. Instead of trying to relax, you simply shift your focus to your breathing.
There may be a bit of discomfort in breathing consciously initially, but you will soon find your own effortless pattern. With your eyes closed, feel the air flowing into your nostrils, moving down through your nose and filling your lungs. Feel your lungs expanding, and then release the air. Check how deeply, slowly and evenly you’re breathing, and just stay with the rhythm of your breathing in and out for a few minutes.
You can do this wherever you are, at home or at the office, lying down or sitting in a comfortable spot. Within a few minutes your muscles should be more relaxed and your body oxygenated.
There are many ways to learn to relax. The one thing you need to do is schedule a time for a relaxation session each day – it can be as little as five minutes, or as long as you like. Finding the right relaxation technique for you may take some time and practise, but it can only improve your life.
Shopper’s Friend, September 2011 (reprinted with permission)