I enjoyed talking with Alex Morrall on his Twin Cities Wellness Collective Podcast. Listen to our conversation about relaxation training and wellness:
Filtering by Category: relaxation training
The world of sports is all about going as hard as you can, as long as you can, in an attempt to get to the top of the scoreboards or the top of your team. Athletes are notorious for pushing not only their bodies to the physical limit, but their minds as well. We don’t often associate athletes with relaxation—the sports world is about intensity and reaching the next level. Learning how to relax might not compute with the “go big or go home” mentality. However, for all their drive and endurance, athletes often find using a few relaxation techniques enhances their overall physical and mental performance instead of getting in the way.
Managing Anxiety and Doubts
As with anyone else, even the best athletes in the world are prone to having doubts about their abilities. Athletes face huge obstacles in their chosen field which can flood them with anxiety and doubt. These negative thoughts can occur when an athlete faces an injury, new competition, a huge event, or even just routine practice. For athletes, letting doubt creep in can have serious consequences when it comes to their abilities. Learning to overcome these issues with relaxation techniques is an effective strategy. Certain relaxation techniques such as guided imagery and visualization can help athletes learn how to take their anxious feelings and deal with them in a positive and productive manner.
A major part of any sport is a focus on endurance. It plays a pivotal role in nearly every sport around. For a cyclist or marathon runner, it’s all about making it to the finish line. In soccer, it’s about staying sharp despite running up and down the field for hours on end. Basketball requires endurance to maintain energy even in the very last minutes of the game. Relaxation techniques can give athletes an advantage in outlasting their opponents. With breathing exercises combined with techniques such as self-affirming phrases designed to keep you calm and relaxed, you’ll find an edge in the ability to go that extra mile.
Progressive muscle relaxation is one hidden gem that athletes might find extremely beneficial to their daily routines. This technique involves tensing specific muscles for a few seconds, then letting the tension go. It’s a way to pinpoint where your tension is. A majority of individuals, athletes as well, may not even realize that a certain muscle group is tensed. For example, when you unconsciously let your shoulders relax only to realize they were nearly up to your chin—progressive muscle relaxation is designed to help give you a method to control the tension and detect when certain muscles need a little extra attention.
May you discover how relaxation can enhance your performance and improve your wellbeing.
Always remember that refilling your inner well is never a sign of weakness.Read More
Discovering the benefits of practicing relaxation techniques can transform the way you feel in your daily life. Finding methods for coping with stress, anxiety, pain, and a variety of other issues can help you handle whatever comes your way. As you build relaxation techniques into your routine, you might begin with a weekly session, work towards practicing daily, and then you can achieve what I consider the ultimate goal of relaxation training—accessing relaxation on the fly, when you need it most. Here is the process I recommend:
Commit to a weekly relaxation time.
If you have trouble remembering or making time to relax, a great way to start is by finding a good time during the week and committing to an hour of relaxation each week at that time. It can be a class, an individual session, or just a time to listen to a guided relaxation recording. It’s important to make it a recurring appointment in your calendar, so other tasks and activities can’t creep into that time slot. If something unavoidable comes up, then make sure to reschedule relaxation training for another time that week. Tell yourself “no matter what happens this week, I know that I will at least have this hour to relax and recharge.” Once you have established this weekly relaxation time successfully, you can work on practicing relaxation techniques on a daily basis.
Develop a daily practice.
How do you move from a weekly relaxation practice to a daily one? I find that if people are able to commit to weekly sessions for an extended period of time, they are much more likely to start fitting in relaxation breaks during each day. On the other hand, people who try to dive right in with daily breaks often struggle to find the time or even remember to do it. It’s like the gradual process of beginning with a weekly practice and then slowly adding in small daily breaks gives the mind and body time to adjust to this new healthy habit. Since they can be as short as 5 or 10 minutes, you can look for times when you have a little space—between meetings or appointments, before bedtime, during a part of your lunch break, waiting in line, riding the bus or train, etc. Once again, treat these breaks as actual appointments in your calendar—writing them in your schedule will help you remember and make them a priority. Then when you find yourself using relaxation techniques each day without struggling to remember, you are ready to enjoy a huge benefit of relaxation training—accessing relaxation when you need it most, aka on the fly!
Use relaxation techniques on the fly.
Whether you are in an argument with someone, taking a test, speaking in front of a group, or some other anxiety-provoking activity, you will greatly benefit from having a set of effective relaxation techniques to access in the moment. Have you ever felt stuck in an argument with no way out of it? Now you can excuse yourself, go into another room (even the bathroom if necessary) use a relaxation technique or two, and return feeling refreshed and perhaps with a new perspective on the situation. Possessing the skills to relax yourself and making it a priority to practice them regularly will make you much more likely to use them when you really need a stress release.
Are you willing to try this process of developing a regular relaxation practice so you can access stress relief on the fly? If you feel some hesitation, I invite you to visualize yourself handling stressful situations with ease and notice how good that feels. It’s worth the time to devote yourself to a relaxation practice—your mind, body, and spirit will thank you!
May you move through your life with more ease and enjoyment…
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I’ve heard it said that two things are better than one. In the case of relaxation, that might not be too far from the truth. More often than not, the idea of relaxation conjures up images of a solitary person walking in nature, taking deep breaths on a park bench, practicing yoga or some other activity to rebalance your state of mind. Relaxing on your own can be very effective, but have you considered just how beneficial it could be to have someone there practicing the fine art of relaxation beside you? Having a partner in relaxation can provide you with benefits you never knew you lacked when practicing relaxation techniques. Below are a few reasons why you might want to consider making part of your relaxation time a group effort.
Discovering New Relaxation Techniques One of the biggest benefits of inviting someone else to join in on your relaxation time is allowing them to bring something new to the table. Since everyone has their own specific techniques, you might be missing out on one which could open a whole new world of stress relief. In turn, you will be able to share with your new partner the ways in which you find the most peace through relaxation techniques.
Focus Assistance If your personality leans towards always-on-the-go, then you might find it difficult to just sit in one place and focus on relaxation for longer than a few moments. Having someone there to help might be the perfect missing piece. A relaxation partner can help you remain focused when your mind tends to wander towards other things going on in your life. Taking time out of your schedule to make sure your needs are met can be a major challenge for many people. With someone at your side helping you stay on the right track, it can make all the difference.
Guilt Eraser As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, many people have a difficult time indulging in “me time”, so to speak. Setting aside time to practice relaxation techniques can often lead to feelings of guilt over being too self-indulgent or not productive on projects you need to get finished. Partnering up with a relaxation friend or small group can help it feel less like an indulgence and more like an actual event that is important enough to put on your calendar. Relaxation time is very important, and practicing relaxation techniques together can help you shed the guilty feelings because you see how it benefits each other.
Bonding Experience By sharing a common experience with another person, you begin to build a bond with them. Through the years as a relaxation coach, I’ve noticed that when people relax together, a peaceful energy occurs that can be a wonderful bonding experience. Whether it’s with a spouse, your children, siblings, coworkers, or even new friends, these bonding experiences can serve to help you reach your optimal level of relaxation as well as ensure a strong connection between you.
As you continue to enjoy individual relaxation, it can be so rewarding to invite others to join you at times. If you ever have questions about relaxation and stress management, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May you find joy in relaxing together
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Do you ever find yourself feeling stuck when working on a project? It is something that most of us deal with at different times of our lives. It might be while writing a book, composing a song, painting a new work of art, or some other creative endeavor—we sometimes find ourselves in a rut that can result in frustration or stress.
Being an artist or creative person, it is so vital to be able to get those creative juices flowing. Learning how to recognize being stuck and how to become “unstuck” is a challenge that every creative has and will face. As strange as it may sound, one of the best things that we can do is to relax. Often when we are stuck, we become more stressed and more frustrated, and it becomes a cycle. However, if you are able to tap into a few of the relaxation techniques below, it can free you and your creativity.
Breathing – Finding a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down and pay attention to your breathing is a quick, simple way to refocus. Pay attention to how you are breathing. Do this for several minutes, taking slow, deep breaths and making sure you exhale fully each time. This technique can help reduce fear and pain, and for stuck creatives, it can also help you clear your mind and alleviate the stress of trying to come up with your next project.
Muscle Relaxation – Focus on tensing and releasing each muscle group. Doing this for a few minutes can help relax your body and open up your mind. While you are focusing on tensing and releasing your muscles, you are no longer stressing or wondering how you will come up with that next idea. This technique is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and as its creator Edmund Jacobson said: “An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body.” Once the anxiety is released, your creative thinking has a chance to flourish.
Guided Imagery – Tap into your imagination and visualize yourself somewhere. Maybe it’s one of your favorite destinations for vacation, or possibly it’s a favorite restaurant, gallery or place in nature. You can fully engage each of your senses—touch, sight, taste, scent, and sound—to bring the experience to life. Going somewhere else for a while in your mind can be a wonderful break, and you can return to your project with a fresh perspective.
Meditation – A part of becoming unstuck is to remove barriers or limitations that we might be experiencing. The reasons for these barriers vary, but could be work, relationships, finances or even our own thoughts. By meditating, we are centering our thoughts and focusing on the present. If you enjoy silent meditation, spend a few minutes in quiet reflection. If you struggle with silent meditation, you can try guided meditation to keep your thoughts from wandering to worries and preoccupations.
Do you have a favorite technique from above? To read more examples of each of these relaxation techniques, see some of my other blog posts such as How Relaxation Techniques Can Help You Focus, 1 Minute Relaxation Break, How Loving Kindness Meditations Can Help You and Guided Imagery: Relaxation via Your Imagination.
May you find a time to relax and free your creative expression.
Individuals who practice relaxation techniques, also called relaxation training, on a regular basis are not only investing in their mental and physical health, they are improving their focus as they move through life.Read More