Jul 20

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The purpose of relaxation exercises

The purpose of relaxation exercises;

Relaxation exercises have been shown to be effective stress management techniques and a component for treatment of anxiety disorders. The techniques are skills that require practice but once they are mastered, they can provide relief in stress and anxiety-provoking situations.
When a person is faced with a threat or worry, this triggers many physiological responses in the body including a release in adrenaline and an increase in heart rate. Our system works this way to provide energy for us to do something about the threat or worry. But if this occurs too often or too intensely, it can be uncomfortable,

distressing, and even exacerbate health problems. Relaxation techniques assist the body to be in a relaxed rather than a stressed state, so our stress response occurs less intensely and less often.
Relaxation is incompatible with tension. You can’t be both relaxed and tense at the same time. These techniques reduce the physical and cognitive symptoms associated with stress and anxiety like muscle tension and racing thoughts. It can also be used to reduce immediate and intense stress and anxiety as well as reduce your general overall stress and anxiety levels. Also, it increases your awareness of the feeling of relaxation and with practice it will take you less time to become relaxed.

Guidelines for relaxation;

1. Practice: Try to have regular practice times every day. Research shows that practicing relaxation twice a day for one week, and then once a day for four weeks thereafter is what is necessary to gain the benefits from this technique.
2. Quiet place: Find a place where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
3. Be comfortable: Lie down or sit down in a comfortable position and loosen your clothing.
4. Don’t stress about relaxation: Just listen to the instructions and observe the results. There is no need to worry if you are “doing it right” or to judge yourself or your ability to perform the relaxation exercise. It’s normal to be distracted by external (traffic, people talking) or internal (your thoughts, bodily noises) activity. In fact, one of the benefits of relaxation is that it makes you more aware of your own thoughts. Part of the practice of relaxation is to notice that you are distracted and direct yourself back to attending to the exercise.
5. Don’t fall asleep: The purpose of practicing relaxation is to learn to actively relax.
Sleeping is a passive form of relaxation. You may use relaxation for sleep if you like (especially if you are having trouble sleeping); however, this is not considered practicing relaxation for the purpose of reducing overall stress levels and anxiety.
6. Try several forms of relaxation: People have individual preferences, and relaxation exercises are no exception. There are a wide variety of relaxation exercises and you may want to try several versions to find the best fit for you. You may also find that you like to do a variety of relaxation exercises for different purposes or to prevent monotony.

Types of relaxation exercises;

There are a range of relaxation techniques that suit each individual’s specific needs and preferences. The following describes six types of exercises that help manage and reduce stress and anxiety as well as enhance well-being.

Abdominal breathing: When people are stressed or anxious, they usually take shallow, quick breaths that can lead to uncomfortable and sometimes scary physical responses. Abdominal breathing is the opposite of this; it involves slow, deep breaths all the way down into your abdomen and then exhaling completely. This triggers a relaxation response. Abdominal breathing is a handy skill to learn because you can use it anywhere without others noticing. It’s useful to learn this skill before the other relaxation exercises because most of them include abdominal breathing. When you have mastered this technique, you can use it when you feel tense or worried or when you are about to face a difficult or challenging situation.
Progressive muscle relaxation: This exercise was developed by Dr Edmund Jacobson in 1938. It involves tensing different muscles for up to fifteen seconds and then relaxing them to create a deep state of relaxation. It is important to put effort into tensing each muscle without overexerting yourself; however, if tensing the muscle is causing you any pain or if you have an injury, do not tense this muscle group. Instead, focus on relaxing the muscle and then move on to the next one. If you have trouble holding the tension in the time allotted, simply hold it for as long as seems right for you. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, progressive muscle relaxation has been shown to be effective in reducing insomnia and chronic pain.
Visualisation: To reduce anxiety, fear, or tension it can be helpful to retreat to a safe or calming place. Because it is not always possible or practical to actually go to a real setting where you feel safe and at peace it can be useful to visualise a scene in your mind. Where would you go if you could when you feel stressed or anxious? What is the first place that pops in your mind? It may be a specific location that actually exists like a room in your house, a warm bath, or a bench in a nearby park. It may be a particular landscape that you find soothing or relaxing like a beach, forest, or mountaintop. Or it may be an invention of your imagination such as a place in outer space or in a bubble. It’s your choice. When you visualise your safe place, make it an experience that all your senses can enjoy.
Note the unique features of your setting: the colour, the smells, the temperature, and the textures—the more details, the better. It may be difficult to think of a place that will be helpful for you. You may find that several scenes are soothing or that you may use different settings for different situations. Visualisation exercises can be a guide to creating your own safe place or it can help construct a specific scene for you. Keep in mind that this technique is not meant to be used as an avoidance strategy. Sometimes avoiding certain situations and places is warranted; however, relaxation exercises are designed to equip you to face anxiety- provoking or feared situations, not to help you avoid them. If you are not sure that you can distinguish between situations that should be avoided or need to be confronted, seek the opinions of trusted members of your family, friends, or a health professional.
• Relaxation exercise for coping: When experiencing anxiety, it is common to have thoughts that something terrible will happen. These thoughts are often unrealistic and lead to an increase in our distress. If we notice these thoughts and replace them with more realistic thoughts, we can relieve anxiety. Often people think that the experience of anxiety is a sign that they are going crazy, having a physical collapse, or losing control of themselves. It is important to know that anxiety by itself does not cause sudden physical damage, it does not cause people to become crazy, or to lose control of their mind or actions. Relaxation exercises can help you challenge your unhelpful thoughts to enable you to effectively cope with anxiety, worry, and fear.
• Activity-based relaxation exercises: It can be helpful to practice relaxation exercises while doing an activity like walking. More active relaxation exercises are designed to assist you to focus your attention on one task while in conjunction with deep abdominal breathing. When trying to focus our attention, it is common for our mind to wander frequently onto many other topics. We can become more skilled at focusing our attention by noticing when our mind wanders and reminding ourselves to focus our attention to the task at hand. We might have to
do this several times in a few minutes.
• Rapid relaxation: As you become more proficient at using the relaxation techniques, you will find it easier to relax using rapid exercises. It is useful to develop your own rapid relaxation technique that you can use anytime and anywhere when a stressful situation may arise. Start by noticing your breath and commencing abdominal breathing in a comfortable rhythm. Then you can add your own personal touch that may involve relaxing particular muscle groups, visualizing soothing images, or reminding yourself of helpful self-statements. You could imagine yourself dealing with this situation well, or tell yourself that you have survived difficult situations before, or just observe your anxiety and stress coming and going like a wave. Use the cues and strategies for relaxation that I can teach you or that work best for you.

If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms for the first time, it is recommended that you see your doctor for a medical check-up to rule out any physical causes for your symptoms.

Breathing during a panic attack:

Panic attacks involve the sudden onset of intense and uncomfortable physical symptoms like hyperventilation, heart palpitations, dizziness, blurred vision, tingling sensations in the hands and feet, chest pain, a choking sensation, nausea, stomach pain, shaking, and sweating. These symptoms can be so strong that it is not uncommon for people to think that they are having a heart attack or going crazy.

Although the way our bodies respond during a panic attack can be very frightening and distressing, they are not harmful.* In fact, this response serves a protective function when we are under threat.

One of the most common sensations in the early stages of anxiety and panic is feeling short of breath. When people feel short of breath, their natural response is to try to take in more oxygen; however, this actually exacerbates the symptoms.
Over breathing or hyperventilation leads to a decrease in carbon dioxide in your body and generates a chain of physiological events that lead to the panic symptoms described above.

You can reverse this pattern by learning to breathe differently in this situation:

1. Inhale carbon dioxide by cupping your hands over your mouth and breathing in and out. You can also use a paper bag.
2. Even though you feel like you need to inhale deeply, being short of breath is an indication that you are not exhaling properly. You need to exhale all the way.

If you use these two breathing tips, you will be able to prevent full-blown panic attacks and/or reduce the duration and intensity of the symptoms. Remember, it is also very helpful to think differently about your symptoms; accept them rather than fight them, understand them rather than be frightened of them.

Self Hypnosis is an extremely effective way of retraining your mind to overcome all the problems that stand in the way of your health, happiness and success in life.

I can help you to learn, practice and master all these technique.

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