Simple Relaxation Techniques to Practice Anywhere, Anytime
Living with a disease can be stressful, and stress can worsen your condition. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques can help you break the cycle. Here are six simple techniques to practice anywhere any time.
Progressive relaxation techniques involve progressively tensing and then relaxing muscles or muscle groups. To try progressive relaxation, find a comfortable position. Begin by tensing the muscles of your feet, hold and focus on the tension, and then relax. Next focus on the large muscles of your legs – tensing, holding and then relaxing. Continue up your body, ending with the muscles of your face. Clench your jaw, squint your eyes as tightly as you can. Then relax. Focus on how relaxed your muscles feel.
Meditation is a practice of using concentrated focus to achieve a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation. Two of the most common involve focusing on breathing and repeating and concentrating on a calming phrase or mantra, such “I am thankful for my blessings,” “I will survive this, too,” or “I will enjoy this day.”
Whether it is repeating a formal prayer or talking and/or listening to God or a higher power, prayer has been shown to lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety and pain. While you may find it helpful to find a quiet place and bow your head to pray, you can pray anytime, anywhere with eyes open or closed.
By purposefully changing the rate and dept of your breathing you can lower your heart rate and relieve the stress and anxiety that can worsen pain. As with meditation, there are many ways to practice deep breathing. One to try: Breathe in deeply to a count of five and then breath out completely to a count of five. Repeat as many times as desired.
Listening to your favorite tunes is not only relaxing, but research shows it can also lead to significant improvements in chronic pain. In a 2006 study of 60 patients who had lived with pain an average of six-and-a half years, those who listened to music reported a 21 percent decrease in pain levels as well as a 25 percent reduction in pain-related depression.
Scientists suspect that chewing gum may relieve stress by releasing excess energy and tension through muscle contraction or by stimulating the vagus nerve in the brain, which lowers the heart rate. For stress relief it doesn’t matter which type of gum you chew, but for your teeth’s sake, you should make it sugar free. A bonus: if you suffer from dry mouth, chewing sugar free gum may stimulate saliva to keep your mouth moist.
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This article from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH) discusses the practice of meditation as well as its effects, safety, medical conditions for which it has been studied and more.
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