04 May Relaxation Exercises: For When We are Too Stressed to Create
Sometimes we are too antsy and wound up to even contemplate sitting down let alone create! When life throws us more curve balls than we know how to handle, it can be helpful to try to detach from all the drama and focus on doing some relaxation exercises. Here are some easy relaxation exercises to help you unwind. They are some I have found helpful to reduce my stress, slow my heart down to a more normal speed, and help me withdraw from frustration or anger I might be feeling.
The main premise of relaxation exercises is that you can only focus on one thing at a time, so by deliberately focusing on something other than what is stressing you, you will start to feel less stressed, then you will relax and calm down.
Here are three common types of relaxation exercises that you might enjoy:
There are several forms of mental distractions, so pick one you can get into right now. A helpful one is to repeat a simple phrase, such as “it will be alright” over and over to stop your mind racing. Make it something you can believe so it doesn’t start up a new mental argument! Another option is to focus on breathing in and out. Count to four as you breathe in, pause, then count to eight as you breath out, then stop. Once again, your monkey brain struggles to continue to stress you when your mind is engaged in something else.
Progressive muscle relaxation.
Here you focus on tensing, then relaxing, each group of muscles in your body. You can start at wither your head or at your feet, it doesn’t matter which! Tense the muscles in the selected group for about 5 seconds, then relax them again for about 30 seconds. Then moving to the next group of muscles, e.g, feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, back, neck, face, chest, stomach. If you miss one, don’t worry, go back to it, or just skip it. The goal is to calm down, not to add to your stress.
Here you create a strong mental image of a peaceful, calming place or situation. To make it as real as possible, focus on all your senses, gradually relaxing your body as the vision becomes ever more vivid as you picture it in your mind. (Add smells, sounds, and physical sensations to a) distract your monkey brain, and b) to get more involved with your mental escape.) For example:
These ideas came from personal experience and reading this article on the Mayo Clinic Site.