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Reducing Stress : Taking Action at Home - Learning to Relax

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Relaxing completely is not simply doing nothing: it is a technique that can soon be learned. Take some time out for a few lessons, and you will then find it easy – and pleasurable – to enjoy a regular period of relaxation in your busy daily routine.

Beginning to relax

It is not always easy to relax at home, since there are so many demands on our time – telephones ringing, meals to be cooked, clothes to be ironed, and so on. Find a tranquil place in the house, and set aside a period of uninterrupted time to do the simple relaxation exercise illustrated here. You may choose to try it out first thing in the morning, perhaps, before breakfast, or last thing at night, just before you go to bed. Wear some loose, baggy clothes that do not restrict your movement. Place a rug or mat on the floor, along with a cushion, then lie down and begin the exercise.

Tensing your back muscles

Lying flat on the floor, stretch your arms out by either side. Use the muscles in your shoulders, back, and buttocks to raise your torso slowly off the ground. Feel the tension in your body, and hold the position for the count of five.

2. relaxing your body

Slowly lower your back to the floor, and relax, breathing slowly and deeply. Repeat as required.

Learning to meditate

Meditation has been used for centuries to counteract the effects of stress. Sit on the floor in an upright position with your legs crossed, arms resting on your thighs, and palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and breathe through your nostrils, focusing on the air coming in and out of your body. Sit for a few minutes, quietly aware of your body. After a while, you will feel the tension start to ease away.

Calming down

The goal of meditation is the attainment of a state of calm awareness. If you find it difficult to concentrate at first, persevere, and slowly your mind will clear.

Sleeping better

Everybody needs a different amount of sleep. For adults, the average is seven to eight hours a night, but many high-achieving people claim to survive on four or five. Stress can cause us to sleep less than we need over a prolonged period, and to sleep poorly. To improve the quality of your sleep, make sure you relax before you go to bed. Switch off from all stimulating activities – especially work – at least two hours beforehand. Try meditating. Read some light fiction. Listen to some music, or watch television. Have a warm, milky drink last thing at night, or try an infusion of one of the many herbal plants that are thought to help sleep, such as camomile, valerian, or passiflora.

Seeking help

People who have trouble in relaxing may find relaxation therapies helpful. The many systems available include: Alexander Technique: learning how to use the body in everyday tasks to minimize pain, stress, and injury:

Alexander technique:

learning how to use the body in everyday tasks to minimize pain, stress, and injury.

Aromatherapy:

massaging the body with essential oils.

Flotation:

floating in a water tank filled with a solution of mineral salts.

Shiatsu:

using finger pressure on certain areas of the body to relieve stress and tension.

TIP

Listen to your favourite comedian. Laughter will help you to relax.

TIP

Avoid eating or drinking heavily just before you go to bed.

TIP

When lying down to relax your body, start by relaxing your toes, and work your way upwards.

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