Relaxation is one of the most misunderstood words in the English language. It is as convoluted a word as "nerves." People mean different things by the word, "relax."
In my practice, stress management is an important part of the overall treatment, so I ask people if relaxation is a part of their daily routine. Experience has taught me to always find out exactly what is meant by the statement, "Oh! I relax every day. That is not a problem for me."
For some people, relaxing means coming home from work, taking their shoes off and before sitting on the sofa, routinely going to the refrigerator to take out a cold beer, and read the paper or watch TV. Sitting on the recliner at some time of the day is relaxation for some people while for some, relaxation is that nap they sneak in during the day. To stop being mad and upset all the time is relaxation for some people.
There are misconceptions galore about relaxation that need to be clarified. Most people who have been habitually tense have been that way for many years. They have been tense for most of their conscious life. It is their standard state of body and mind. They are unaware of the tension, they carry it with them day and night, literally, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
If one were to ask them, "Are you tense?", they would say "No! I'm okay." They do not have anything to compare with. They have to first learn the difference between the "tension state" and "relaxation state."
There are people, fortunately in the minority, who are really apprehensive of the word relaxation. They view it with suspicion and hesitancy. They fear that if they begin to relax, they will become lazy, unproductive, and lose their competitive edge over other people.
Nothing could be further from the truth, for relaxation as defined in medicine and psychology, has a very specific meaning.
These are relaxation techniques and if you are habitually a tense person, then you will need to learn to relax by using these techniques.
The relaxation that one learns by using these techniques is truly a relaxation. That kind of relaxation energizes you, recharges your batteries, makes you more mentally alert and creative.
The changes are that you will become creative and productive on a consistent basis with very little or no "leaks" in your energy. You will be more relaxed around people and other people will be more relaxed around you. The quality of your relationships may change for the better.
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to do a "full relaxation" session with yourself. In the beginning, it is more effective to learn relaxation by using full relaxation methods. If the stress level is really high, it is more effective to do even two or three full sessions a day. I usually tell people that one session a day is "good," two times "better" and three times is "excellent."
Initially a few people, before the find out that relaxation makes them truly efficient and productive will exclaim, "Twenty Minutes!, I haven't got that kind of time." However, if they bite the bullet initially, they soon find out that the time spent on it has rich dividends and saves them much time and sweat on many other things in their life.
Once basic relaxation skills are acquired, one can practice short methods for two, five or ten minutes. As short methods are learned, "quick" methods can be followed that take as little as a few seconds. Quick methods take the wind out of the sail of the argument, "When will I find five or ten minutes to relax when I am actually in the middle of the situation and things are happening?" Yes! You can apply those methods right then and there, in the face of the situation and come out as a winner.
I often wonder when so many effective relaxation methods are available today, why do people go for sleeping pills and chemical relaxers. Relaxation techniques are powerful. The potency of sleeping pills, chemical relaxers and the recreational drugs wear off as one develops tolerance for them. "The more you use them, the more you lose them" as the saying goes. With relaxation techniques, the more you use them, the more you get out of them.
When you can deepen our relaxation, you can enjoy it even more. And there are no bad side effects of relaxation! Just don't practice them when you are driving or working on dangerous machines.
Follow the common sense safety precautions. We are living in very fortunate times as so many self-help type books and cassettes are available on relaxation. There are "active" and "passive" methods of relaxation, choose the one that suits your temperament and style.
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