A 10-Week Plan to Learning How to Relax
“We will be more successful in all endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” –Thigh Nhat Hanh
Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through competent people, risk, and financial management, revealed its latest “Health, Well-Being, and Productivity” survey.
The survey showed that of those employers able to measure well-being, 86 percent thought that stress caused by excessive workload or extended hours was the most significant to health and well-being.
Do You Agree?
Consider these facts:
One in five workers misses work due to stress.
Two in 10 workers start the week stressed.
Managers are too busy and stressed out to help their team members deal with their anxiety and stress.
One solution for workers:
Learn how to relax.
Medical professionals, psychologists, and psychiatrists agree that learning to relax minimizes many of our anxieties, frustrations, resentments, nervous tensions, and resultant physical disorders.
It takes no specialized knowledge, aptitudes, or preparations to learn how to relax and benefit from its soothing, healing, and calming influence.
But unfortunately, many of us are too busy chasing material wealth to give much thought to our well-being and take time to relax.
And so, we turn to stopgaps, to the temporary relief of opiates, barbiturates, and tranquilizers.
These stopgaps serve their primary purpose at first, but they become a crutch, a necessity, a constant need.
And, as our system grows used to these temporary measures, we have to increase the dosage or use them more often, and eventually, we become mental casualties.
Stress, stress, stress is ubiquitous and follows us everywhere!
You cannot avoid stress.
According to one authority, 70 percent of people sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms are sick due to stress.
What Is Stress?
There is no universal definition of stress.
However, for most people, stress tends to focus on the negative feelings and emotions it produces: “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.”
Some examples of what causes chronic or harmful stress:
- Financial problems
- Troubled kids
- Work difficulty
- Health or injury
Chronic stress left uncontrolled affects your body and immune system.
What Is the Opposite of Stress?
This article outlines a 10-week plan for learning how to relax.
What Is Relaxation?
What IS relaxation? According to The Oxford English Dictionary: “To make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid; rest from work or engage in a recreational activity.”
A few synonyms for relaxation: to relax is to lighten, to reduce, to curtail, or to modify; to submit, to comply, to slacken, or give way; to rest, to recline, to repose, to let go.
All of the terms mentioned above refer to relaxation and have a significant bearing on our mental and physical well-being.
We must take time out to rest and replenish our energies, or else we will go to pieces.
One of nature’s ways to guard against complete physical and mental exhaustion is the need for sleep.
Sleep is one of the most critical metabolic functions essential to life. It is nature’s way of ensuring the body gets the needed rest to replenish expended energy.
We can abstain from sleep for as many as forty-eight hours without apparent ill effects.
However, tests show a growing loss of sustained attentive ability beyond the first forty-eight hours.
When we don’t get adequate sleep, we develop dizziness, headaches, burning eyes, nervousness, irritability, and lightheadedness.
Lack of sleep also contributes to a growing dullness of perception, lack of awareness, and marked sluggishness in average reflected action.
Thus, sleep is a must! Sleep promotes rest under all conditions and circumstances.
However, the amount of sleep required by an individual depends on her age, her work, her daily habits, and her physical and psychological makeup.
One person could require seven or eight hours, and another five or six hours.
However, if you cannot sleep soundly and naturally during your regular sleeping hours or have trouble dropping off to sleep, you will not experience the rest of your tired muscles.
Restful sleep will allow you to feel relaxed and let go of tension, care, worry, anger, or uneasiness.
Sleep is one form of letting go and releasing from mental and physical fatigue and nervous tension.
A Relaxation Plan
Another way restful sleep helps us is muscular relaxation.
In his book titled Release from Nervous Tension, Dr. David Harold Fink describes one technique and outlines a ten-week plan to learn how to relax.
Here is what you must do—
Weeks one and two:
Find the time when you will not be disturbed, undress, and stretch out your face upwards on a bed.
Place one pillow under your neck so that your head rolls back toward the head of the bed.
Spread your legs a little and place pillows under your knees to bring them upward and outward at a slight angle.
Move your hands about eight inches from your body and put pillows under your elbows, with your hands hanging over the end of the cushions.
You are now in the proper physical position to learn how to relax.
Start with your jaw.
Let it sag and droop to your chin, but keep the lips together. Close your eyes, and let the lids meet naturally.
Now, as you breathe in and out in your usual way, utilize the power of habit in following voiced suggestions and say to your arms: “Let go. Let go. More. A little more. “
Continue ordering them to let loose, slacken, and let go, until they do.
Soon, your inhalations and exhalations will slow down, your arms will loosen up and relax with every breath, and you will experience a new sensation.
Your muscular tensions will be lessened, and you will gain a new sense of renewed muscular strength, of increased natural tone and vitality.
Practice arm relaxation twice a day, thirty minutes each time, for two weeks.
Relax the chest muscles.
Start with relaxing your arms as you have been doing. When you feel they are heavy and your hands grow warm, start talking to your chest muscles.
Ignore your inhalations for the time being.
Let them be as usual, but every time you exhale, say to your chest muscles, ‘Let go. Let go. More. A little more.’
Tell your chest muscles to let go until you feel them loosen up. Keep this up for a week, twice a day, for half-hour periods.
Weeks four through seven:
Start relaxing your back muscles on the fourth week, the leg muscles on the fifth, the back of the neck on the sixth, and the facial muscles on the seventh.
You start with the arms for a few minutes, then the chest, and then the others in succession.
Weeks eight through ten:
For the eighth week, relax your scalp muscles to relieve nervous headaches.
Let go of the muscles of your eyes for the ninth week.
Pretend your eyes are so loose that they will fall out if you do not watch them, and soon you will be rid of the feeling of eye strain.
For the tenth and final week, learn to relax the muscles of your vocal cords.
Practice speaking slowly, softly, in a smooth, calm voice, enunciating each word, and syllable, without any strain or particular emphasis.
Dr. Fink concludes:
“Ten weeks is a short time to acquire a new skill. Yet, it is long enough to help you combat emotional conflicts, reduce paralyzing inhibitions, improve your general health, and gain a new sense of freedom from strain and nervous tension.”
Regular sleep and muscle relaxations are healthy ways to reduce nervous tension, neutralize compulsions, and minimize inner conflicts.
Try the above exercises.
Follow Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax, as this plan will surely bring you rest, ease, and comfort.
There are other relaxation techniques that you can find on the web.
The benefits of Dr. Fink’s plan and other techniques include the following:
- Slowing heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving sleep quality
- Improving focus and mood
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Lowering fatigue
- Improving digestion
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
Thus, following Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax improves your mental and physical health.
Why not begin today and follow Dr. Fink’s plan or explore other simple relaxation techniques?
Learning how to relax can prevent a host of stress-related ailments.
Begin today and start de-stressing your life.
Begin today and improve your health and overall well-being.
Source for this article:
Release from Nervous Tension, by David Fink