What is 'relaxing'?
Ok so first lets deal with the cultural expectation of what relaxing is. Often when we think about people relaxing we think of someone zen like, sitting looking like they're doing nothing, maybe you've heard of mindfulness, thinking in the moment or maybe you think about whale music and the whole yoga pose thing?
However, this either doesn't interest you at all, it's your idea of the most boring task you could think of or you've tried it, just seem to think about all the things you 'should' be doing and your mind just questions constantly if you're doing it right.........which doesn't feel very relaxing to you!!
The truth is that this is only one type of relaxing and some people relax in a completely different way.
So, if you're stressed out and running around like a loony, it's probably going to be hard to sit still and just relax. The art of relaxing is a learnt behaviour just like everything else, if you haven't experienced it before your brain will find it hard to create. If this is you or someone you know telling them to sit in a quiet room, close their eyes and chill out just isn't going to work. If you think you can't 'relax'......that's not true.....you just relax in a different way.
The secret is to start with where you are and understand how you think. If you are stressed out or you're an analytical thinker you need something to occupy your conscious brain, something repetitive, mundane and simple. When your conscious is out of the way being kept busy, your unconscious can relax. Examples of things you may find relaxing are:
- Washing the car
- Chopping wood
- Doing a jigsaw
- Doing the housework e.g. hoovering
All repetitive, simple tasks. And whilst your 'busy' your unconscious mind can wander. This is also a form of relaxing.
Listening to music can also be incredibly relaxing but what type of music eases you into peace is completely up to you.
The whole idea of relaxing is simply slowing down......slowing down your brain waves, easing stress and tension, so long as you are doing that......you are relaxing.
How this works in a therapeutic setting
I've been working in this field for 5 years and I haven't had a single person yet who hasn't been able to 'relax' in my chair. So how do I do it?? Firstly I find out about you, what you currently find relaxing and how stressful life is at the moment. Secondly, I pick an approach which matches. Some people love relaxing in the bath some people like relaxing by going out on their motorbike. I have lots of different approaches I find one that will suit. I have to start with where the person in the chair is and then lead them into slowing down in a comfortable and easy way.
How can I relax at home?
My biggest advice is to stop thinking that in order to 'relax' you have to be a zen like, buddhist equivalent. This type of relaxing a) Suits some people and not others b) Takes time, first your brain has to know what relaxing feels like before it can create that feeling in a range of situations. That doesn't mean you can't do it, it just means you have to learn how. Here's my simple technique for doing just that........
Here's my approach to the perfect relaxation:
1) Find out what you find relaxing
2) Do that and allow yourself to enjoy it....often
For some people this is enough, they're happy they can relax and enjoy it and that's good enough.
But if you'd like to access this same lovely feeling anytime, anyplace and anywhere........read on.......
3) When you begin to get good at relaxing however you're doing it in step 1, start to realise what relaxing feels like, looks like and sounds like for you. Make a mental note of the things you notice.
4) Now find somewhere quite and just imagine you're doing that thing, instead of actually doing it and focus on all those things you mentally noted in step 3.
Bingo, now you can achieve the same sensations of relaxing anywhere, anytime, anyplace by just imagining something. This can take a little bit of practise but it's worth it. The more you do it the more your brain will find it easy.
What's your thoughts about relaxing? Any comments, observations etc feel free to add them to the box below, I'd love to hear from you.
Happy relaxing. See you next week.