how to learn to relax
The purpose of these pages is to teach you how to relax your muscles. Relaxation essentially means that you do absolutely nothing with your muscles, leaving them completely free of tension.
We know that relaxation is a very useful technique for different reasons, among which it should be noted:
- Muscle tension causes uncomfortable bodily sensations, such as headaches and back pain.
- aches and pains due to tension add to your worries.
- People who are tense often feel tired.
When you are anxious, the body speeds up. Relaxation helps slow down or slow down this acceleration.
Relaxation has to be learned, like any other activity. Relaxation is not something that occurs spontaneously. Few people can relax when they want even if they really want to. It is especially difficult if you are anxious.
We present two instruments for relaxation training: on the one hand, deep relaxation and on the other, rapid relaxation that helps us lower the level of anxiety in situations where it is high.
You must learn to completely relax your body.
These exercises will help you control your stress level. By practicing them you should try to achieve:
1. Learn what it feels like to be totally relaxed.
2. Discover where the points of greatest tension are in your body. Once you know how to relax them, you can avoid becoming tense.
The essential thing to learn to relax is to practice constantly and without haste.
To perform these exercises, you will need a nice and comfortable place, where you will not be disturbed.
We have to choose a suitable space: in a quiet room, in dim light, without noise, in an armchair or a sofa that allows us a comfortable posture, or in bed.
We should practice this technique at times when there are no anxiety-producing situations nearby, such as being late for work, an exam, children screaming in the room.
Once we have learned the technique, we will move on to using it in stressful situations.
Whether you are standing or sitting, always look for a relaxed posture. Don’t sit on the edge of seats, shrug your shoulders, or clench your fists. Being tense can be exhausting. Don’t waste energy adopting an uncomfortable position, on the contrary, allow your body to rest comfortably, even when you are doing something. Try to relax, for example while eating or waiting in a queue.
Each relaxation session usually lasts about 20 minutes on average. In the first session, you will have to open your eyes to know which muscles to tighten and how to do it.
The goal of the first session is to learn the technique and not necessarily to relax, which is usually achieved after several attempts, spending several sessions reviewing and learning relaxation. You do not have to force yourself to achieve relaxation from the first moment.
Description of the technique
It consists of tensing muscles for a few seconds (from 3 to 5 seconds) and then releasing them, letting them rest for a time that is at least five times longer than the tension (approximately 30 seconds).
The muscle groups and the way to tense each group, for a few seconds, is as follows:
- Clench your fists.
- Bend the arms to “take the ball”, leaving the fists relaxed.
- Stretch your arms forward with your palms facing up
- Rotate your neck in all four directions.
- Raise the eyebrows up, wrinkling the forehead.
- Close your eyes tightly, wrinkling your nose.
- Clench your teeth hard.
- Purse lips.
- Support the tongue against the palate.
- Make the stomach hard.
- Shrink the buttocks.
- Raise both legs at the same time.
- Raise both legs at the same time, with the tips of the feet forward.
- Raise both legs at the same time, with the balls of the feet pointing towards the face.
AFTER TENSING EACH GROUP OF MUSCLES,
RELEASE THEM AND RELAX THEM FOR 30 SECONDS
Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing
With this type of breathing we seek to achieve a greater degree of relaxation, as well as having one more tool to handle moments of anxiety.
Breathe in through the nose and keep the air in the lungs for a few seconds (2 to 3 seconds); and we release it little by little through the mouth. When taking the air we must lower the diaphragm, which will produce a movement similar to “pulling out the belly”.
A rhythm of around 8-12 full breaths per minute generally represents a satisfactory level of relaxation.
This technique poses some differences with respect to other forms of breathing. We may be used to raising the diaphragm, “to stick out our chests” like when we do sports, and now we are looking for the opposite effect.
Learn to relax physically and mentally
Some people can become physically relaxed, but remain worried and restless. Your mind does not relax at the same time. They do not finish concentrating on their sensation of bodily relaxation.
If this happens to you, you can improve your relaxation by using calming and pleasant thoughts and images.
1.- Imagine places or situations that you consider very relaxing. Try to find three or four different things, for example, sitting in your house in front of the fireplace, one winter afternoon, while sipping a cup of your favorite infusion, or lying in summer on the banks of a river in a cool and wonderful valley, or listen to music that you like and that you know well,
2.- When you relax after doing the exercises, imagine that you are in one of those peaceful situations. Imagine it in the most vivid and real way you can.
If you can’t think of a relaxing image, focus on something interesting or fun.
Don’t worry if you can’t focus on one image for a long time. If you have several you can imagine one after the other. With practice, you will be able to push bothering thoughts out of your mind for longer and longer periods of time.
RAPID AND DIFFERENTIAL RELAXATION
Until now we have learned to relax deeply, however it would be interesting to be able to learn to relax, a little, but not completely, and quickly in any situation of daily life. To do this, we propose this relaxation program in 14 days, which, once learned, will allow you to relax without being noticed and quickly, in any situation and with anyone.
Consists of performing deep relaxation as we have learned.
The goal is the same as in the first stage, deep relaxation, trying to rely more on memory, instead of looking at the pages frequently.
Slowly work all muscle groups, alternately tensing and relaxing each group. Try to strengthen the pleasant image you think of at the end of the exercises and see if you can still relax more deeply. If possible, keep your eyes closed throughout the exercise.
The goal is still deep relaxation.
Carry it out as in previous days and try to reduce the time you need to relax deeply.
At this stage you should be able to relax without consulting instructions, while maintaining a strong mental image.
Relaxation should become easier and more rewarding.
Follow the instructions from the previous days and relax deeply.
During today’s session try to increase the speed of relaxation.
Now you have learned the difference between tension and relaxation; you may be able to relax without first tensing your muscles. See if you can immediately relax some of the muscles you’ve worked on.
6th Day RAPID RELAXATION
The time required is two 10-minute sessions. The best times of the day are midday and the last thing you do at night.
Sit in a quiet room and tense all your muscles:
Close your fists
Bend your arms at the elbows as if trying to touch your shoulders with your fists,
Press your head back against the chair and tense the back of your neck.
Close your eyes and squeeze them tight,
Clench your teeth and lips too,
Extend your legs and slightly raise your heels off the ground to tighten your stomach muscles.
Take a deep breath.
Hold this position as a whole for 5 seconds and then literally drop into the chair, allowing your whole body to relax as quickly and deeply as possible. Stay like this for 10 minutes, concentrating on your relaxing mental image.
PERFORM THIS TASK TWICE A DAY
Today will be spent carrying out the objectives previously learned.
Do it twice a day, with the same rapid relaxation method explained in DAY 6. Use 7 minutes in each of the relaxations. Take a good look at all your muscles and make sure that at the end of the day you have achieved your goal.
Continue to increase the speed and ease with which you relax. Practice quick relaxation at leisure moments you may have throughout the day, so that you can move into a relaxed state within a few seconds.
Continue as before in the practice of rapid relaxation. You must also spend 20 minutes applying deep relaxation. Do this last part at the end of the day.
Please reread the instructions from the first day and reaffirm yourself in deep relaxation.
You should practice quick relaxation whenever possible . To do so, use any free time you can spare. Just lie still, quiet in a comfortable place and relax as deeply as possible for a few minutes. This will give you a general feeling of well-being.
You must consolidate the ease with which you achieve rapid relaxation following the instructions from yesterday, relaxing at any time in your free time.
You are also going to try differential relaxation. The main difference between differential relaxation and other types of relaxation is that you can perform this technique while you are doing your usual tasks. As we have already indicated before, this is especially useful when playing sports, speaking in public or having to attend interviews, etc. In fact, it’s useful in any aspect of behavior where you need to stay cool focused while you’re physically or mentally exerting yourself.
After one of two quick relaxations, open your eyes, but keep the rest of your body relaxed and still, look around the room. Take in every detail of everything around you but move only your eyes. Then start talking slowly to yourself. Say whatever comes to mind, but get used to the feeling of talking while remaining completely relaxed. After a few moments begin to move your arms. He feels the new sensation of moving some of his muscles while the rest of his body remains relaxed. Make sure you keep both your torso and legs relaxed.
Then get up slowly. Start walking around the room. Keep those muscles you are not using in a relaxed state. After a couple of minutes go back to the chair or sofa and relax all your muscles again for a few more minutes. This ends the first session of differential relaxation.
We are going to dedicate it to consolidate skills. Please read the instructions for DAY 11.
At the end of the day you should have reached the goal.
If you have been developing the program correctly, you will have acquired a great ability to relax quickly, as well as to spend most of the day relaxed following the law of least effort.
If you still haven’t reached your goal, make one final, strong catch-up attempt on the last day of the program. We suggest that for the final day of the program you read the instructions first thing in the morning.
Today, practice relaxation to preserve the skill of this valuable procedure. You should try to go deeper and deeper into the knowledge of this technique. Probably if you didn’t use it anymore, you would lose the ability to discern if your muscles are tense or relaxed.
So try to use relaxation and see how it makes it easier for you to solve your problems.