Today we are living in a challenging and competitive environment. Stress is common in our lives. We are genetically programmed to fight or flight when dealing with danger. But in modern life nature of the danger is different. We don’t need to fight or flight to survive in civilised society but we are still exposed to stressors like work, school or financial problems. These tend to be continous while our defences are programmed for temporary stress. As a result we become vulnerable to mental health problems like anxiety and depression and even to some physical diseases.
Against stress we can use relaxation techniques. Actually it doesn’t always have to be a ‘technique’. Whatever practice that comforts you, makes you calm and eases your tension is a mean for relaxation. For instance having a walk in park may well be relaxing. Practices that we call relaxation techniques are just ones that are widely accepted and generally used by people.
Meditation is probably the oldest technique for relaxation. There are many types of meditation, from simple breathing meditation to mindfulness or self enquiry. As a start you can try breathing meditation which is concentrating on your breath, inhaling and exhaling, sensation your breath makes through its path. Meditation has temporary relaxing effects but also makes you a more relaxed and calm person through permanent changes in your brain if done regularly for some time.
Also there is a special breathing technique that is used for relaxation. It’s called 7/11 breathing. You count from 1 to 7 while you inhale then count at the same pace from 1 to 11 while exhaling. Counting here has the distracting effect which will prevent your mind dealing with worries or analysing stuff while doing the practice. This breathing technique relaxes you and eases release of stress hormones like adrenaline that causes worrying and obsessive thinking.
A different technique is progressive muscle relaxation. It is a very effective way for relaxation. In this method you tense the muscles in an area of your body, hold in that position for seconds, then relax them. You do this one by one starting from your face through your neck, shoulder, arms, abdomen, chest, legs and feet. You will feel calmness and ease at the end of this exercise.
Visualising is a very easy yet still effective technique for relaxation. You imagine a beautiful scene; It can be a personal one that comforts you best like a beach, forest or lake. You close your eyes and visualise yourself there listening the sounds, feeling the wind, smelling the beautiful aroma. It’s relaxing even reading this isn’t it? You can also try guided visualisation in which you are guided by a calm voice to visualise. Generally sounds of nature and soothing music accompanies the guide in these recordings.
A different approach to relax that worths much to mention is using supplements and herbs. Some of them are chamomile, valerian, passionflower and st john’s wort. Chamomile is usually used as tea. It’s said to be a safe source of tryptophan and induces relaxation and sleep. Valerian, too has a wide reputation as relaxation and sleep aid. You can find it at pharmacy as a drug or as a supplement. Passionflower is traditionally used for calming. St john’s wort helps release feel good chemicals and is useful for depression. It’s also good for love sickness.
Relaxation is helpful for virtually every disease but specially helps in anxiety, anger, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and sleep problems. People need some time for tranquility more than ever these days and by using relaxation techniques they can have it.