Relaxation Techniques and Routine


How Do I Choose Relaxation Techniques?

There is no single relaxation technique that is best for everyone. When choosing a relaxation technique, consider your individual needs, your preferences, your fitness, and the way you as an individual tend to react to stress. The relaxation techniques that are right for you are those that you can relate to, that fit in with your lifestyle, and are capable of helping you to focus your mind and interrupt your everyday thoughts so that the relaxation response can be activated. You will most likely discover that alternating or combining a variety of techniques will maintain your motivation and give you the greatest benefits. The way in which you react to stress may influence the type of relaxation techniques that will work best for you:
  • Fight - If you have a tendency to react to stress by getting angry, agitated, or hyped up then you are likely to respond best to stress relief techniques that calm you down, such as meditation; progressive muscle relaxation; deep breathing; and guided imagery.
  • Flight - If you have a tendency to react to stress by getting depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out then you are likely to respond best to stress relief techniques that stimulate and energize you, such as rhythmic exercise; massage; mindfulness; and power yoga.
  • Freeze - If you have a tendency to react to stress by becoming immobilized, by freezing or getting stuck then you first need to rouse your nervous system in order to activate a "fight or flight" stress response. Once your stress response is activated you can use appropriate relaxation techniques. To activate your stress response, perform physical activities with a mindfulness approach, focusing on sensations in your limbs as you move. Choose activities that engages both your arms and legs, such as running; dancing; and Tai chi.

What Relaxation Routine Do I Need?

Getting to grips with the basics of relaxation techniques is not difficult, however it does take practice. You should set aside at a minimum, 10 to 20 minutes each day for practicing your chosen relaxation techniques. If you want more stress relief, try to do from 30 to 60 minutes. If that seems too much of a commitment or if you have a busy schedule, bear in mind that many relaxation techniques can be incorporated within your daily routine while doing other things, for example:
  • At your work desk during rest breaks;
  • On a train or bus when journeying to and from work;
  • Waiting for an appointment;
  • While doing your housework or mowing the lawn;
  • While walking your dog or climbing the stairs at work.
Some tips for developing your relaxation routine:
  • Schedule a fixed time to practice each day;
  • Set aside one or two periods each day;
  • Practice first thing in the morning before other things get in the way;
  • Combine mindfulness with exercise to improve relaxation benefits;
  • Avoid practicing when you feel sleepy;
  • Do not practice after eating a large meal or while using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.
Expect good days and bad days and don’t get discouraged if you miss a few days or even weeks. Simply restart and gradually build up your momentum again.


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