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: stress management
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…
"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." — Sydney J. HarrisRead More
Why are good habits so hard to develop? Not only is it challenging to establish certain regular routines, it can often be a stressful process. If you find yourself struggling to adopt a desired habit, creating a ritual can be an enjoyable, effective way to facilitate positive change.
We all have routines we easily do on a daily basis (e.g. personal hygiene, simple chores, etc.) but others are not so automatic (e.g. getting enough sleep, meditating, eating healthy). Rituals provide more than a process for developing a habit—they also have elements that relieve stress, add meaning and motivate us to keep it going.
The Calming Effect
One of the most important reasons why incorporating rituals into your daily life enhances positive wellbeing is the overall comfort factor. Having a calming ritual can improve your overall wellbeing by helping to ease your fight or flight response. This reaction is activated when you face the unknown. With daily rituals in place, your fight or flight response is softened immensely. Adding pleasant activities to a ritual creates a calming effect, so you actually look forward to the process instead of avoiding it. Even when things at work are hectic or there is an issue in your personal life, knowing that you can rely on the welcome distraction of a comforting ritual makes it much easier to move forward instead of drawing back. For example, if you want to create a bedtime ritual to improve your sleep habits, you could add activities such as drinking soothing lemon balm tea or warm cinnamon milk, doing some gentle stretching, taking a bath, listening to a relaxing recording and/or reading a light-hearted book. The key is to choose activities you truly enjoy so you associate the healthy habit (in this example, getting enough sleep) with the pleasant ritual.
A Way to Add Meaning
As you create a ritual for your desired habit, it helps if you can truly connect it to your daily life in a soulful, meaningful way. Think about what it would mean to you if you could fully embrace your desired habit and succeed in making it a daily practice. Imagine yourself already accomplishing this goal, and what it feels like doing it every day. You could also make a vision board, write in a journal, check in regularly with a friend or coach, or find some other way that works for you to add meaning to this habit you desire. Once you decide, you can incorporate it into your ritual. To use the sleep example again, you could include a brief exercise of imagining yourself sleeping peacefully as a part of your bedtime ritual—each time you do this, it will become easier and easier to accept this image of yourself as a healthy sleeper. Making a sleep vision board with all kinds of positive sleep images and/or using a dream journal are other ways to create a bedtime ritual that is meaningful to you. You can adapt this idea to other types of habits such as healthy eating, meditating, exercising or any habit you want to acquire.
O.K., so you have added some calming elements to your ritual to relieve any stress associated with developing a habit, and you have decided on a way to make the ritual and the habit meaningful to you. Is this enough to keep you on track? Perhaps it is, but if you need more than that to fully embrace the habit, there might be a way to further motivate you to maintain it. This is a time to look deeply within yourself to find what motivates you. Maybe you are already aware of it, or maybe you have to dig a little to discover what could be a reward or motivation you can build into your ritual to keep you going. I will give some examples, but it is up to you to figure out which rewards work best for you. With our sleep example, you could reward yourself with aromatherapy (choose your favorite scent), splurge on some luxurious socks (e.g. cashmere) to wear to bed (the National Sleep Foundation suggests wearing socks to promote sleep), use special sheets on your bed (e.g. high thread count cotton, satin, flannel—whatever feels good to you), wear silk pajamas, affirm yourself for sticking to your routine (more about affirmations here), and/or start doing things you were too tired to enjoy when you were so sleep deprived. What motivates one person might not work for another, but once you discover your rewards and motivation, any habit will be much easier to develop.
Although I used the example of getting enough sleep, you can choose any habit you want to develop, and try applying these ideas to see if they can help you succeed. If you have any questions or ideas to share, feel free to comment below or email me at email@example.com
I remember when sleep came easily to me...Read More
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
Keeping your energy reserves filled can be a challenging task this time of year. However, it’s an essential part of staying healthy and enjoying the holiday season.Read More
Since you can’t completely banish pressure from your life, the next best thing is to find a way to manage the tension you do have.Read More
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.
How often do you find yourself wishing for more hours in the day? If there were a way to magically snap our fingers and find a few extra hours to finish up tasks, most of us may be tempted to make the change. With so many things packed into a single day, it can be difficult to cut loose and find a little time for relaxation. Even the most hectic schedule can be maneuvered with a little planning. If you are the type of person who just can’t seem to find any time to take a deep breath, then check out some tips below on finding time for relaxation.
Must Do and Should Do – Tasks often fall into two categories—must do and should do. Whether they are chores around the house or projects for work, each category comes with its share of weight on your schedule. By stepping back and looking at them objectively, you can help ease your time crunch. Some things can wait until tomorrow.
Putting Yourself First – If you are the type of person who drops everything for everyone while leaving no time for yourself, then chances are you could stand to carve out a little “me” time. Taking care of yourself with regular relaxation breaks will actually increase your ability to do more and feel a whole lot better throughout the day. The best way I’ve found to fit in relaxation breaks is to completely rethink how we create our schedules. Before putting in tasks, meetings and appointments, begin with scheduling some relaxation breaks. I recommend actually assigning a time for each break, so that you can’t schedule something else in that time slot. You can experiment with a combination of a few very short breaks (1-5 minutes) and a couple of longer breaks (15-30) minutes, and treat them as the essential energy boosts that they are.
Make Use of Obstacles – Stuck in traffic or construction? Standing in a long line at the store or DMV? Is your daily bus taking a little longer to arrive? These overlooked blocks of time can be used to recharge with relaxation, if only for a few moments. Changing your perception of how you view these common inconveniences helps. Instead of having a negative notion of delays, start looking at them as opportunities to relax. You can try an intentional deep breathing exercise, do some gentle stretches, tense and release different muscle groups (otherwise known as progressive muscle relaxation), or spend a few moments thinking about one of your favorite places to be. Important tip: turn off your phone and/or computer during these times to prevent interruptions.
My wish for you is to find some space in your life for moments to relax, re-energize and enjoy life. If you have any questions about relaxation or would like to share your experiences, feel free to comment below or email me at email@example.com