Relaxation techniques: how do you really relax?
So you've finally found some time for yourself. You're at the end of your to-do list - or nearly there. The diary is empty, your phone is off. You know that you need to unwind. But what next? I spoke to Marie Claire all about relaxation techniques. Click here to view the original article. And here are two of my tried-and-tested favourites to really relax.
Five finger breathing. When we are able to control our breathing it helps us to regulate our nervous system and combat anxiety. But some breathing techniques can leave us feeling short of breath, panicky, or out of control. The practice of ‘five finger breathing’ brings our breath together with our sense of touch, which has a soothing and grounding impact. It’s a very useful tool when we find ourselves feeling anxious or overwhelmed or frightened. It’s also very simple to understand and repeat, and requires no preparation or equipment.
Five finger breathing involves regulating our breathing pattern, while simultaneously running a finger up and down our hand. The combination of breathing and touch can be incredibly soothing, and can help us really relax.
Hold your hands out in front of you. Take the index finger of one hand, and slowly run it up and down each finger of the other hand, starting with the thumb. As you run it up your thumb, breathe in, then exhale as you run it down the thumb. Then move on to the next finger and continue until you have inhaled and exhaled your way across the whole hand. You can then move on to the other hand, and you can repeat the exercise for as long as you wish.
Multi-sensory visualisations. Sometimes we all need to escape, to help us to feel calm and relaxed. This is even more important if we’re feeling stressed or anxious or distressed, but we can’t always physically remove ourselves from a situation. That’s where visualisations can be incredibly useful. Even if we can’t take our bodies elsewhere, we are often able to take our minds to a calmer, safer place. It's all about creating an image inside your mind of a place that feels safe and secure to you. In developing this image, we think beyond the location, and consider the sounds, smells, and feel of your chosen location. This makes it feel much more real and calming.
When you have a moment to yourself, take a seat and close your eyes. Imagine a place that reminds you of calmness and safety. It might be somewhere that you have been before, or it might be an image that you have invented for yourself. Invite yourself to take a seat, and start to notice what you can feel. It might be the wind in your hair, sand beneath your toes, or the warmth of the sun. Then ask yourself to notice the sounds. Perhaps it’s a babbling brook, the sound of birds singing, or the wind rustling in the leaves. Next up, what can you smell? The salty sea air perhaps, or scented flower petals. It’s all about curating your own experience, adding layers until it feels almost real. Once you’ve created this visualisation, you can carry it with you. And when life becomes overwhelming or frightening, you can choose to close your eyes and imagine yourself there.
Keen to explore more? I love working with people to help them to understand and cope with their feelings. If you'd like to learn more, click here to contact me, or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.