Bee Healthy: Ways to relax body and mind

May 11, 2013 

When you relax your body and mind, you reduce muscle tension and relieve anxiety. Below are some easy relaxation techniques that can help you deal with stress in a more positive way. The more you practice, the better you will become.

Deep breathing is the core of many other relaxation techniques. It is convenient and easy to do. Simply take 10 deep breaths, lifting your chest to fill your lungs completely then exhaling all the way.

Each breath will relax you and you will feel the tension and stress exit your muscles.

Progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) helps release muscle tension. One of the first signs of stress is the tightening of muscles, frequently in the back and neck. To reduce pain and enhance relaxation:

• Sit comfortably and close your eyes.

• As you breathe in, begin tightening a group of muscles (such as your fists) as tight as you can.

• Hold this tension for a few seconds.

• As you breathe out, relax your muscles.

• Apply the same technique, starting at your feet and working your way upward.

Mental imagery or the picture in your mind’s eye can help you relax and regroup. Picture a peaceful scene, such as a beach or forest, and use all of your senses. Do you hear the ocean? Can you feel the light breeze on your skin or the sun on your face? Your body cannot tell the difference between a thought and a real event, so bring a peaceful scene to mind next time you are feeling stress.

Meditation is the conscious act of focusing on one thought, object or word. This focus occupies your mind and diverts your attention away from the stress you are experiencing. Like deep breathing, you can do it anywhere.

• Sit comfortably, close your eyes, relax your body.

• Feel your breath, and focus on each breath you take.

• Focus your attention on a phrase, such as a positive affirmation, or focus on an object, such as a candle flame. You can also focus on a word, such as “calm.”

• Try clearing your mind for 10 minutes in the morning and before you go to bed.

Ely is a Health Information Consultant with Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.

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