Speaking of "learning to relax," the remaining few pages of this workshop will address relaxation skills you can use to help yourself reduce stress. It is highly recommended that you approach learning these exercises as skills that need to be practiced and developed over time, rather than as something you can do once in a while. Without practice, these exercises may not be as effective for you at the time you need them most!
Relaxation techniques can help reduce emotional and physical sensations of stress, as well as the worry or stressful thoughts that may accompany them. If you can learn to relax your breathing and reduce your muscle tension, your mind will follow. Conversely, if you can learn to ease stressful thoughts and worry, your body will relax as well.
While there are numerous types of relaxation exercises, we will explore two of them here:
- Deep Breathing: When we feel stressed, it is common for our rate of breathing to increase. We also tend to breath in a shallow manner, more highly in our chest. A deep breathing exercise allows us to take fuller, slower breaths that reflect a true relaxed state.
- Visualization: Visualization is a nice way of giving our minds and bodies a "mini vacation." It involves using imagery to fully immerse ourselves in a pleasant scene, noticing the sights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations.