Saturday, 5 December 2020

4. Relaxation


Why do we need to relax?

There are so many health benefits when we allow ourselves time to fully relax. One of the biggest well-being factors to relaxation is the increase in blood flow to our muscles and the lowering of fatigue. We live very stressful lives and tend to miss this very import component of optimal health. Without relaxation our stress symptoms and anxiety increase which can lead to ill health inducing high blood pressure, heart and circulatory disease. Relaxation techniques can help with the reduction of stress and also aids in the limiting of muscle tension and chronic pain. Relaxation helps both physical and mental health. Relaxation techniques have also been known to reduce mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia 

How do we fully relax?

There are many forms and techniques to enable us to relax. When we say we are relaxing.......are we really? The answer to this is probably 'No'! Why do I say this? Often, when we say we are having a relaxing evening, this invariable is not the case! We are generally either, sitting on the sofa scrolling through social media, joining a group of friends for a night of eating and drinking or eating takeaways rather than having to spend valuable time cooking. These activities may feel like a good use of your time but they are not relaxing techniques to enhance your health. 

Relaxation techniques as with most things, will take some time and practice to fully reap the benefits on offer. We often feel we are too short on time to add yet another form of exercise into our already long list of 'things to do'. Relaxation methods can actually take as little as 5 minutes to gain a substantial amount of well being. There are also some very pleasurable ways to relax which will make us willing to put aside some allotted free time to enjoy.

Relaxation Techniques

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Music or Art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Mindful walking
  • Light exercise in the fresh air
  • Visualisation
  • Creative hobbies
  • Tai Chi
  • A massage
  • Spa time
  • Aromatherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
There is a very simple and effective relaxation technique that requires very little skill and well worth 5 minutes of your time. Deep breathing will help conquer your usual reactions to stressful situations. One of the physical symptoms of stress is rapid breathing. Once you have practised deep breathing and recognised the calming effect it has on your physical and mental self, you will be able to apply this technique in future moments of stress. Try this.....take deep breaths in sync with the video

Below is a PDF with some simple examples of relaxation techniques.


Relaxation techniques take time to practice, but as you learn each practice you will become aware of muscle tension and the physical sensations of stress. Don't give up if it feels an impossible task and the benefits do not seem apparent initially. Give yourself some time and enjoy the space and 'me' time you give yourself to truly relax. This is a skill and with all skills it takes practice. Try several practices until you find the one that suits you and you are comfortable with. The benefits of relaxation for your physical and mental health are:
  • Slowing heart rate
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduction of stress levels
  • Slower and deeper breathing
  • Reduction of muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Lowering fatigue levels
  • Increased blood flow to major muscles
  • Improved digestion
  • Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
  • Improving cognitive skills
  • Improving sleep time
  • Improving mood
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Increasing confidence in handling moments of stress.

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