Do You Suffer From These Signs Of Tension?
Heart racing or pounding, hyperventilating; feeling light-headed or faint, continual tiredness, difficulty getting to sleep, waking up tired, loss of appetite, “butterflies” in the stomach Unable to concentrate or feeling under pressure most of the time.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is a proven relaxation technique which really works but takes a few sessions before you start to feel the benefit.
The method is based on “tensioning” (Clenching) a specific muscle group. Holding the tension for about 8 seconds and then slowly breathing out whilst completely relaxing the muscles.
At the same time, you try to mentally relax and imagine tension draining away from your whole body. You repeat this eight times (eight repetitions).
If you have any health considerations have word with your doctor before starting the exercises.
Exercises For The Critical Muscle Groups
Your Hands Stretch out both hands so that your fingers and thumbs are straight and spread out ( like pressing down when closing overfull suitcase) Hold that position for 8 seconds.
Next, breathe out letting your hands completely relax and become limp. Let your arms become limp and hang down at you side or, rest on your lap. When hands are properly relaxed, the fingers are slightly curved and limp. Keep this relaxed state for ten seconds (8 repetitions).
Pull your shoulders vertically downwards as far as you can. Hold that position for 8 seconds. Next, slowly breathe out and let your shoulders relax and return to a natural position. (8 repetitions).
Shrug (lift) your shoulders vertically towards your ears and maintain the tension for 8 seconds. Slowly breathe out and relax your shoulders down into their normal position. (8 repetitions).
Backward Shoulder Roll Concentrate on the backwards roll, not a forward roll. In your daily life your shoulders get forward roll action by leaning over a desk or keyboard or as a mother leaning over a baby. This action does not include the usual “holding” position.
Raise your shoulders up towards your ears, now smoothly move them backwards (similar to chest out position).
Next slowly breath out and lower your shoulders from this position back to a normal position. (8 repetitions).
If you want to do full shoulder rolls including the forward roll, follow the above action but carry on from the final normal position by continuing the roll to the forward position (hunched over the computer!) then lift your shoulders up and backwards towards your ears and continue with the backwards part of the roll. (8 repetitions).
Your Head And Neck
This simple. Preferably when in a comfortable sitting position look to the front. Slowly turn your head to the left (about 80/90 degrees) and hold for about 8 seconds before slowly returning to look forward. Next, carry out the same exercise but to the right. Carry out 8 repetitions and then carry out a similar exercise looking upwards and then downwards (8 repetitions).
There are muscles in your face to which you could apply the tensing and the relaxing method but it will be easier to concentrate on just relaxing your face. Preferably but not essentially sit in a comfortable chair and looking straight ahead into the distance. Sit still and quiet for a moment and then let all expression and tension drain from your face, let your jaw sag with your teeth just apart. Let your forehead relax. Sit quietly and enjoy making your whole face become relaxed. Do this for as long as you feel you want to.
Practice slow deep breathing. If possible sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and breathe out as much as is comfortable for you. Can you guess the next step? – yes, breathe in. Do this as a controlled slow action. Repeat this type of breathing for at least 5 minutes.
There are two things that might help you here. Some people, when breathing out, like to image all the tension leaving their body, all their worries draining away. You might try this.
Some people find the very act of trying to control their breathing produces anxiety. If this applies to you just miss out this step.
Overcoming Repetitive Stressful Thoughts
Think about something pleasant. Think about a place, a situation or events- real or made up where you would like to be. Let this take over your thinking for a while. Think of the details: the scenery, the weather or ambience of the place, the sounds, the smells the characters in your day dream.
Next comes the hard bit, try to slowly return to the real world, bringing with your the warm peace of your daydream.
This may sound a bit esoteric, but strangely, with practice, it does work. When your mind is racing with anxious thoughts there is no competition for those thoughts. Put a strong competitor into your mind – your day dream, and this can take over from the stressful thoughts.
Many people use this idea to get to sleep. At the very least you have a brief time of peacefulness but eventually you will learn to maintain this improved state for longer.
You can do something else with this idea when you are properly relaxed. If you apply this day dream concept to imagining successfully overcoming some problem or stressful event it can help you to prepare for that situation.
This is a proven way to improve your chances of success in the real world. If you feel doubtful about, this remember it is the type of visualization technique that sports psychologists use for footballers, tennis players and athletes to improve their performance.
Learning to relax is never going to be easy but try this method for a few weeks and you will start to benefit. The long term the improvements to your quality of life will become obvious and you will be glad that you persevered with these self help exercises