I enjoyed talking with Alex Morrall on his Twin Cities Wellness Collective Podcast. Listen to our conversation about relaxation training and wellness:
Filtering by Tag: relaxation training
“Relaxation is the foundation on which almost all of the actor's work is based.” ~ Lee StrasbergRead More
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…
"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." — DesiderataRead More
"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." — Sydney J. HarrisRead More
This is the time of year when we see many of our friends and family members announcing their resolutions for the New Year. While resolutions may work for some, I prefer to focus on intentions for how I want to live my life in the new year. Intentions encompass more than just the things you would like to do, but also the ways in which you would like to live your life. Fulfilling your 2017 intentions may involve adapting your routine, mindset or practices to live more in line with your desires and worldview.
If your intentions involve being more resilient, at peace or focused on the positive things in your life, integrating a regular relaxation practice into your daily life can support these goals. The key to building a sustainable relaxation practice is making sure that it fits with your lifestyle (so that you will be more likely to stick with it). Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build a relaxation practice that will support your intentions in the year to come.
What activities do I find relaxing?
Relaxation comes in many forms. Think through activities that you have done in the past (or currently do) that relax you. These could involve exercise (yoga, stretching, biking, swimming, etc.), reading, watching a movie, listening to music, creative projects (art, cooking, singing), being in a relaxing environment (a museum, spa, or park), or spending time with people who make you feel at ease. Taking a relaxation class or listening to relaxation recordings is another great way to calm your mind and body. Once you’ve identified these activities, schedule in at least one or two per week and allow yourself time to fully enjoy doing them.
When do I have breaks or downtime during my day?
Many of us tend to think that we need to carve out large chunks of time for relaxation. While it can be wonderful to spend multiple hours or an entire day relaxing, this is not realistic for most of us as we move through our daily lives. The good news is that there are plenty of shorter relaxation exercises that can be done during your lunch break or right when you come home from work. One of the most effective ways to relax during the workday is using relaxation techniques such as intentional breathing, muscle relaxation exercises, guided imagery or meditation. Deep breathing allows for more oxygen to enter the body, which can be both relaxing and restorative. Muscle relaxation involves bringing your awareness to various groups of muscles and relaxing them with breathwork, imagery and/or tensing and releasing the muscles until your entire body is relaxed. Guided imagery is a narrative that engages the imagination and senses and guides the mind toward a relaxed, focused state. The loving kindness meditations that I like to use are a way to calm your heart and mind while encouraging peaceful and loving thoughts about those around you. If you only have a little time, you can choose one technique for a 3-5 minute session, or if you are really in a hurry, try my 1-minute relaxation break. When you have more time to relax, you can combine these four techniques into an enjoyable, effective relaxation training session. These relaxation techniques can be practiced with the help of a recording or on your own once you know how to do them.
Where is the best place for me to start? How can I build relaxation into my life in a sustainable way?
Once you’ve thought through your options for relaxation and the times during your day or week when you can relax, decide on a starting point and build from there. This process will be different for everyone. For example, begin by committing to a weekly relaxation hour, whether it’s a yoga or relaxation training class, an individual relaxation session, or even setting aside a time to listen to a guided relaxation recording. Committing to that weekly time and making it a priority cues your mind and body to relax. Once that gets going, then layer in a daily relaxing activity that can vary in length depending on how much time you have that day (see relaxation training for ideas). The next week, try a calming audio book or guided relaxation recording as you settle into bed. The key is to gradually build sustainable relaxation activities into your life.
Consistent relaxation can help us live a more peaceful and fulfilling life in 2017. If you have any questions about relaxation, coaching or wellness feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a refreshing feeling of ease in the New Year!
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
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
My relaxation training classes and recordings run between 30 and 60 minutes in length, but do you think I can fit all of the elements into one minute? I like a challenge...Read More
I like to think of guided imagery as a guided daydream that engages all of your senses—touch, sight, smell, taste and sound—and focuses the mind on positive images, feelings and sensations.Read More