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Relaxation

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Our mental wellbeing is not something we tend to talk or think about as a result of our hectic lifestyles. Putting some time aside each week can pay dividends to your health. Practising relaxation techniques can help clear the mind, distress the body and make you feel good about yourself. Another benefit of relaxation techniques is that helps you to be in the present moment and appreciate the simple things in life. Undertaking relaxation techniques can be of particularly importance following an intensive work out or exercise programme to relax the muscles and aid recovery.

There are several techniques which can be used to help the body become relaxed. These can easily be undertaken at home:Beach

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
  • Visualisation

Diaphramatic Breathing

  • Relax your shoulders and breathe in through your nose whilst pushing out yourstomach
  • Hold your breath for a couple of seconds
  • Gently breathe out through your mouth, drop yourshoulders and relax
  • Repeat once (do not repeat more than once as thiscan lead to over-breathing).

Practice diaphragmatic breathing several times a day. When somethingmakes you stressed take a couple of these breaths before you react.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a technique used for reducing overall body tension and frequently used at the end of pilates classes. The idea is to tense and then relax different muscles within the body thus leading to your whole body feeling less stressed

  • Lie on you back with your arms down by your sides
  • Focus on your breathing - breathing in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. With each breath, imagine breathing in relaxation and breathing out tension, removing any unwanted stress from the body.
  • Start to feel the body becoming more relaxed and visualize your chest rise up with each in-breath and lower with each out-breath.

When ready, begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth. Hold this contraction for the count of six and then relax, feeling the tension being released from the facial musclesRepeat the above, working your way down the body:Relaxation Stretch

  • Shoulders – raise the shoulders towards your ears during the contraction phase
  • Right arm and hand – raise the arm an inch off the floor and clench the fist
  • Left arm and hand – raise the arm an inch off the floor and clench the fist
  • Stomach muscles
  • Lower Back – press the lower back into the mat
  • Buttocks – clench the buttock muscles together
  • Right thigh muscle – extend and raise the leg slightly off the floor
  • Left thigh muscle - extend and raise the leg slightly off the floor
  • Right foot – clench up your toes and hold
  • Left foot - clench up your toes and hold

Take you time through each of the body parts as you feel each section of the body becoming more relaxed as you work your way down. Take a minute or two at the end to

Visualisation

Using visualisation is a great way to remove yourself from the stresses of daily life and imagine yourself to be in an environment that is calm, peaceful and tranquil. Visualisation requires you to think in picture, images and sensations such as touch and smell.

The beach

For a few moments allow yourself to take several nice, long, deep breaths. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Notice the cool air coming in, filling your lungs, and the soothing warm air going out. Just let all your thoughts float away as you bring your attention to your breathing... in and out. Mentally scan your body from head to toe, as you do so gently let all tension in your muscles tension melt away with every out breath. Bring your attention to your breathing, in and out... in and out... let yourself feel more and more comfortable sitting where you are.

Imagine seeing yourself yourself walking down a long, narrow, wooden stairway towards a beautiful, inviting beach. Your bare feet feel the rough weathered steps, and with each step, you feel more and more tension gently melting away from your body. As you continue down the stairway, you notice how the bright white sand stretches down the shoreline as far as you can see. The ocean is a deep shade of blue with the fine white crests of the waves sweeping towards the shore. You reach the end of the stairway and step down, sinking into the warm soothing sand. As you rub the sand lightly between your toes, a soothing sensation of relaxation gently melts through your entire body. The roaring sounds of the sea's surf, the waves crashing over each other, calms your mind and allows you to feel even more relaxed.

You begin walking slowly towards the edge of the water and notice the warm sun on your face and shoulders. The salty smell of the sea air invigorates you, and you take in a deep breath... breathe slowly out... and feel more relaxed and refreshed. Finally, you reach the water's edge and you gladly invite the waves to flow over your toes and ankles. You watch the waves glide smoothly towards you, gently sweeping around your feet, and the trails of sea water that flow slowly back out again. The cool water feels soft and comforting as you enjoy a few moments allowing yourself to gaze out on the far reaching horizon. Overhead, you notice two seagulls gracefully soaring high above the ocean waters, and you can hear their soft cries becoming faint as they glide away. And all of these sights, sounds, and sensations allow you to let go and relax more and more.

After a moment you begin strolling down the beach at the water's edge. You feel a cool gentle breeze pressing lightly against your back, and with every step you feel yourself relaxing more and more. As you walk down the beach you notice the details of sights and sounds around you, and soothing sensations of the sun, the breeze, and the sand below your feet.  As you continue your leisurely walk down the beach, you notice a colorful beach chair resting in a nice peaceful spot where the powdery soft sand lies undisturbed. You approach this comfortable looking beach chair, then you sit down, lie back, and settle in. You take in a long deep breath, breathe slowly out, and feel even more relaxed and comfortable resting in your chair. For a few moments more, let yourself enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful day on the beach. And, when you feel ready, you can gently bring your attention back to the room... still letting yourself feel nice and comfortable sitting where you are.