Relaxation Strategies

Relaxation Strategies

07/30/14 James Winston

As we are faced with what we perceive as threats (our boss yelling, upcoming deadlines, increased work, or home demands) throughout our busy days, our bodies turn on an age old response system and prepare us for “fight, flight, or freeze.” When our bodies activate this response, it causes not only a physical reaction (muscles become tense) but also a chemical reaction (adrenaline). The following relaxation strategies are identified to bring our minds and bodies back to neutral.

Progressive Relaxation
Focuses on the intentional tensing and relaxing of your muscles. Begin by sitting or lying comfortably with your eyes closed and take 4 deep cleansing breaths. Starting with your feet, focus on tensing each muscle as you inhale and hold for 5 seconds. Visualize the tension melting away and relax your muscles as you exhale. Next, repeat the process working your way up to your head, tensing and relaxing each muscle along the way. This process helps you become more aware of physical sensations, specifically the difference between tense and relaxed muscles.

Encourages the use of all our senses to create a sense of calm for ourselves. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and take 4 deep breaths. Imagine yourself lying in a hammock in the middle of a warm afternoon. Feel the warm sun on your skin and a light breeze blowing. Feel your body relaxing. Take some time to explore your surroundings in this comfortable place. What do you imagine you would hear? What do you smell? After taking some time to enjoy your new safe space, slowly open your eyes and come back to the present.

Box Breathing
Helps refocus your mind and your breath on the present moment. Again start by making yourself comfortable. Count to 4 as you inhale, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, and pause for 4 counts before repeating the cycle. Repeat 4 times.

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