Relaxation is one of the least recognized form of self-care we experience. Usually we dismiss relaxation as laziness, slacking off, or as not doing what we should be doing. Our busy society has trained us to believe that if we aren’t busy, we aren’t doing something worthwhile. So I really like this idea of Relaxation Day as a way to remind us all that relaxing helps us recharge, process, and reduce stress.
Relaxing doesn’t have to mean sipping a cold drink by the beach. It just means being able to tune out stress and anxiety. It means not being tense all the time about how things were, are, or will be. Relaxing helps you refresh and come more equipped to deal with each day as it comes.
Let’s Talk About Stress
Stress is the word that we use to describe our physical and emotional reactions to the things that strain us. It can be physical or emotional, and come from inside or outside. Stress is just the way we react to things that put a strain or our resources.
All stress begins in the same way. You have probably heard of the “fight or flight” response that happens in our bodies when we are faced with something that places a physical or emotional strain on us. This response was developed in a time when our stresses were mostly self-limiting. We either escape, win, or lose, and when that happens the “fight or flight” response shuts off.
In the world we live in now our stresses don’t resolve so easily, and that fight or flight response turns to chronic stress. Chronic stress is basically a continuation of that initial response. It keeps working to keep us alive and protected. In chronic stress digestion is typically irregular and we tend to crave sugars and carbohydrates, breathing is mostly shallow, we may feel tired and foggy, sleep is disturbed, and our fingers and toes may be cold. This is all part of our bodies redirecting our resources to where it feels they are most needed.
Taking a few minutes to relax each day can relieve that stress response and help to restore us to natural functioning.
Let’s take some time this week to relax a little. Just fifteen minutes a day can shift your focus, lower your blood pressure, and help restore your sense of calm and wellbeing. Try these simple things to begin creating the habit of being relaxed.
The fresh air, plants, and change of scenery can lower your heart rate and boost your mood.
Recent studies show that vitamin C helps to relieve the physical and psychological effects of stress. Spend a few quiet moments with a citrus snack.
Listen to Music
Any music you enjoy is bound to make you feel better, but classical music, in particular, has been shown to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and even decrease levels of stress hormones.
Notice Your Muscles
Take a break from whatever you’re doing. Starting at your toes and working upwards, spend a moment slowly tensing and then releasing, the muscles of each part of your body.
Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight and your chin up. Let your eyes close comfortable and take a deep abdominal breath. Inhale for the count of four. Hold that breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and count to four again before you inhale again. Repeat this cycle four times to begin turning off the stress response in your body.
Take a Vacation - in Your Mind
Sit back for just a moment and take a deep breath. Let your eyes close and imagine a time when you felt the most relaxed. Maybe it was a vacation, or just relaxing on a beautiful day. Imagine that moment as if you are there again, with all that you can see, all that you can hear, and how it feels being there. After a few moments you’ll feel like you’re ready to open your eyes, feeling much better.
You can use hypnosis to teach your body and mind to respond to stress by relaxing instead of feeling more stress. Follow this link to get a free 15 minute hypnosis audio designed to relieve stress.
The Role of Hypnosis
Hypnosis, to me, is a specific set of tools designed to help people use their own sills, abilities, and resources more effectively to take back control of the parts of their lives that they felt were out of control before. Hypnosis breaks down the barriers that held you locked in unwanted behaviors and habits, and empowers you to create new healthier behaviors in their place. A great way to begin is by using self-hypnosis. The steps below will guide you through a very basic introductory self hypnosis experience.
Remember that you don’t have to create pictures in your mind in order to be successful. Some people see things very clearly in their minds. Other people just get a vague idea of the thing they’re thinking of. As long as you can “sense” what you want to achieve, you can self-hypnotize.
Find a comfortable place you can safely sit with your eyes closed for about 5 minutes. Turn off your phone and minimize other distractions. Take a few deep breaths. Let your eyes close or let your vision go soft and blurry. Imagine yourself in a place where you felt truly relaxed. Imagine that you are in that moment from your past again right now. Just sit quietly and let your mind wander or rest. After a few minutes you’ll feel like it’s time to open your eyes. When you do, your vision will clear and you’ll feel awake, alert, and refreshed.
Commit to this exercise for a week. Plan on spending about 5 minutes a day. Self hypnosis takes more repetition than using hypnosis with a professional, so you’ll want to stick with it for at least a week. You’ll begin seeing positive changes in the way you think and feel almost immediately.
For some people, seeing a professional is the best option, but if you aren’t able to do so right away, begin to practice these techniques on your own and see the positive changes you can incorporate into your life.∎
Karen Gray is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (802) 566-0464.