Winter is often long and challenging here in the great northwest but everyone keeps their sanity by heading outside for lots of winter activities. I love it, there is no better life. Along with the fun of all of that, however;is the fact that we often over schedule ourselves and we end up needing simple ways to take care of ourselves.
Relaxation techniques are straight forward ways to rejuvenate yourself no matter where you are and what you are doing. These techniques can calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. These techniques offer you ways to reduce stress and maintain inner peace. Use them often throughout your day, as you wait in a grocery store line or while in traffic to get to the lake. Remember these techniques take time to learn and it often takes time to get good at them.
1. Deep breathing
Breathing is the ultimate source of life and energy. It provides oxygen to all your cells and our body will naturally get more of it when we laugh and sigh. That is why we feel better when we do either of these things. Anxiety and stress does the opposite, it causes us to take shallow, short breaths and this creates more anxious thoughts due to less oxygen coming into our body.
So here is the easy 4 parts to deep breathing.
1. First, inhale deeply with the lower part of your ribs moving away from midline and your belly rising. This fully engages the diaphragm muscle, which is between your abdomen and lungs.
2. Breathe in slowly to the count of 4 and hold.
3. Then exhale slowly to the count of 4 and feel the air release.
4. Repeat 3-4 times and relax in the moment to feel the calming rest that comes over you.
Meditation is a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject. It causes us to step away from all the stimuli in our life and focus. Meditation can take on a variety of forms such as repetitive prayers, a one-pointed mantra or the two-pointed mindful insight.
Prayers often help us get specific about what is really bothering us and just the act of saying it and repeating it helps us to release our cares to a higher power. This allows us to free our mind of all the stuff we tend to carry around.
One-point meditation usually takes a simple word such as love, hope or peace and then you repeat it for a period minutes. As your mind jumps around because it will, you simply pull it back to your mantra. This takes practice and patience but it gives your mind and body a way to decrease pain and stress b
Two-point meditation is using your breathing as your focus and as your mind jumps to different subjects you gently pull it back to focus on your breathing. This is a wonderful technique to calm your mind after a busy day and I often use it before I fall asleep.
3. Guided Imagery
This technique is an easy way to reduce stress by doing your deep breathing with imagining a peaceful place, memory or setting. Maybe it is the sound of the ocean waves hitting on the shore or the sounds and smell of fresh baked cookies in your grandmothers kitchen. Imagery usually occurs best while listening to sounds or music. Sometimes all we have to do is have the sound or thought and our mind will calm. As you do this technique imagine your cares and troubles being carried away and separating from you, and then feel your body growing stronger and your mind becoming more powerful.
These relaxation techniques are proven ways to help you find little corners of peace throughout your day. It takes practice but the simple act of doing it reduces blood pressure, stimulates the brain and energizes the system. Enjoy the great outdoors this summer and find the peace that is available to your body and soul as you practice these easy, simple techniques.
Sheree DiBiase, PT, is the owner of Lake City Physical Therapy and she and her amazing staff want you to Live Well! Please take care of your body and soul this winter and come see us so we can help you on your way. Hayden office (208) 762-2100, Coeur d’Alene office (208) 667-1988 and in our Spokane Valley office at (509) 891-2623. Please visit us on Facebook.