Relaxation is for Everyone

Relaxation techniques come in many forms and fashions collectively aimed at reducing physiological and psychological stress and tension, resulting in improved coping, overall health, and quality of life. We unknowingly tense muscles when we experience stress, ostensibly to prepare for whatever perceived threat is coming our way. If our stress experience is more of the low-grade insidious variety, this can lead to painful muscle aches and discomfort that compound our stress levels. The research is clear that reducing our stress responses can improve a host of physiological factors such as blood pressure, immune function and even brain health—cue the relaxation techniques.

Employing the mind and the body through some short, basic relaxation-oriented practices can result in less emotional strain, physical fatigue and even reactivity. Find a quiet spot in which you can sit, lean, or lie down for five uninterrupted minutes with your eyes closed. This can really be anywhere that affords you this option---car, closet, bathroom—you get the idea.  This rudimentary relaxation practice involves focusing your attention on the delicate movement of air in and out of the nose and mouth, while also softening the muscles around the mouth and jaw. The constant movement of air makes it an easy, accessible focal point, while the softening of the mouth and jaw muscles is associated with reduced muscular tension in areas even beyond the face. Your mind’s entire job through this five-minute activity is to stay focused on the air and the softening of the facial muscles. You can imagine that facial area as being the center of your body for a few minutes and let the rest of you melt down and disengage into your supported position.

Practicing this relaxation technique in the short-term results in feeling rested and refreshed, while in the longer-term being able to activate this pattern in high stress situations can be a secret weapon. Starting with five minutes makes it less daunting, but of course the more you do it the easier it is to fall into, and for longer. The stress in this life is a given, what is not mandatory is that it is detrimental to our health; at home or at work just take a minute (or five) and advocate for you.